Ah, to be the Justin Bieber of Open Source

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・2 min read

In the past couple days, dev.to has racked up a lot of internet points. Since we launched as an open source project early yesterday, we have remained at the top of GitHub's worldwide trending repos.

GitHub stars don't necessarily mean anything, but they also don't mean nothing. One way or another, there is an expectation that comes with popularity. People certainly correlate popularity with "greatness", or something along those lines.

A lot of people see this as a chance to learn from us, and of course, we hope to teach as much as we can — especially to newer folks. That said, most of the teaching will be peer-to-peer; from the top down, we don't have that much to offer. We are here to learn as much as anyone else.

This Hacker New comment tells a pretty typical story in terms of expectations:

Looks like the standard rails mess :/ Don't get me wrong. From time to time i am going to look at other peoples rails code to learn, how they solved common problems in grown rails apps. Most oft the time i leave rather disappointed...
I like the spec for Comment#id_code_generated ;)

It's true. We are a pretty standard Rails mess. We didn't get here because we write perfect code. We got here because we care a lot about the community. I happen to think that now that we are open source, we may eventually live up to our status as an important web app in the developer community. But that is not where we are today.

We are popular for, in my opinion, all the right reasons. We have worked closely with the community every step of the way and have always strived to do the right thing. But in a sense, we're also famous for being famous, and as software developers we hope to deserve the success of this project as we grow over time.

Happy coding ❤️

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Ben Halpern


A Canadian software developer who thinks he’s funny. He/Him.


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Congratulations to you, Jess, and the Dev.to team! Way to set a date, then deliver in spades!

It takes a lot of guts to put your entire codebase on GitHub for all the world (and the critics) to see. But it's the right call. Now the entire developer community can jump in and help out!


Wow, means so much coming from you Quincy, thanks so much!!! ❤️


Ok I thought of a funny line. What does Justin Bieber and Dev.to have in common?

Hmm (Clear throat)
Lots of gems and issues.


I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about what makes a piece of software successful. We both agreed that at the end of the day, it's rare for software to succeed or fail because of the technology. Often projects succeed in spite of bad or mediocre technology, and once they become successful, they can hire top notch experts to fix the problems they started out with. When they fail, it's usually for a variety of reasons around business and project management.

I'm not saying the dev.to code is bad. I just think that comment about "standard rails mess" is a bit silly. What matters is the end-user experience, and that usually works great for me here. I think the team at dev.to has also done a really good job of promoting a positive, inclusive, and friendly vibe.

It's always better to have a real product that people can use than to fetishize some abstract notion of code purity.


Well to make a sports analogy, the ideal "interception rate" to optimize for a quarterback is not zero. Interceptions are bad, but shooting for perfection would lead to a sort of conservatism that would not feed the end goal. "Many" is also a terrible rate. "Few" is the ideal place to be.


To me being the Justin Bieber of Open Source is equal to being the most hated project in Open Source, which I totally think is not case here.
Still huge props to you guys for your determination and commitment to the process.


Whomst among us has not been a standard rails mess at one point or another


Ha, I starred dev.to before it was cool to star dev.to! 🤣


:runs to look up the spec for Comment#id_code_generated:



It's here.

Can't say I get what the commenter got so excited about... 😕

it "gets proper generated ID code" do
    expect(comment.id_code_generated).to eq(comment.id.to_s(26))

My second favorite hackernews comment calls Massive "a less complete knex" -- it's accurate! That's intentional! Look at it this way: you're popular enough to get a little hate. Nil illegitimi carborundum, & all :)


Ya'll are doing great! As many have said already, the reason I stick around the community is because it's always for the community. I love:

We have worked closely with the community every step of the way and have always strived to do the right thing.

Working with the community to build the community we all want to be part of help out with.

As for Rails, I recently switched to a team that's a Rails shop. As such it has been a delight to learn Rails and finally seeing the value of convention over configuration. You can onboard folks quicker because you know where everything is. Folks can talk about actual paths for building things instead of getting caught up over small details.

For this reason, although I'm a huge fan of JavaScript across the entire stack, in the team that I am in, I will keep pushing Rails because it's inclusive in nature. Once you get past the learning curve, you can jump into a Rails project and get up to speed fairly quick. Seeing DEV as a Rails project delights me and I'm learning new stuff and using it as a point of reference to take away and implement new ideas into projects I'm working on.

Excited for the future of what this community will become. Thanks to you and the rest of the DEV team for taking the helm and navigating the community to an awesome place.


I love dev.to because you would never see that comment here :)


"We are a pretty standard Rails mess"

Haha, it was 2009 all over again when I got invited to that repo xD

"Oh cool, now I can finally fix some bugs....what...what year is it?!"

Oh, and also gratulations to that OSS launch :)


Don’t let imposter syndrome lie to you: dev.to is indeed famous for the right reasons. And that’s because of your (all for you) hard work and dedication. The rest is just details.


Sometimes an app has to #justwork first and get better (internally) then. You certainly did a really great job on that!
While I barely work with Rails, I certainly know from the people at GitLab that they got some troubles splitting their monolith into parts. Therefore I would be curious what your deployment looks like and whether and how you plan to scale if necessary.


It's funny how high expectations are for open source code despite zero money being involved. However, I'd at least expect that a site (not a framework or library) wouldn't be scrutinized as highly.

Anyway, you've done a great job of focusing on community first, and it's always great to see what real world code actually looks like. It breaks the illusion that production code is modern and perfect.


Maybe it's good to be messy in the standard way. Hopefully that means there will be lots of information on dealing with it or cleaning it up.


Haters Gonna Hate ... But Coders Gonna Code :)
Stay awesome 🤘


I think your guys decision to go open-source is awesome and in the near future it might get you out of the "standard rails mess" and into rails heaven!


@benhalpern ur a hero. Human, vulnerable, real. Beiber takes a back seat to you (and Jess). Keep up the good work! Blessings 🙏🏻!


I would like to know ruby instead of php so I could help to you.


I guess that makes users of dev.to Beliebers. 😂


As long as it works it works 😈Who cares if the codebase is a little mess, I mean what isn't?
Love the community you built here 😍


Oh you crazy Canadians, with your crazy Canadian analogies involving Canadian celebrities 😜


Thank you for open sourcing the app Ben. I'm a Ruby developer and I'm learning a lot from dev.to codebase.

I want to learn how you made dev.to so fast and try to replicate it with my apps.