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Patrick Ziegler
Patrick Ziegler

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Open source Maintainers: How do you deal with feature requests?

I'm a co-maintainer of a fairly popular open source project in its space and we get lots of feature requests and I'm not always sure what to do with them. For some, I can clearly see the merits and they're also something, I'd like to see in the project but just haven't thought of and I'll happily add them to our 'Feature Requests' github project. For others I can clearly say that it's not something that's going to be added to the project because it's very niche or something totally outside of the project's domain.

But then there are the ones in between, and most of them fall into this category, where I'm not a fan but can't quite articulate and defend why that feature shouldn't be added.

How do you folks handle these kinds of requests? Do you just add them to a list of feature requests like we do or do you have some kind of guideline as to what type of feature requests you will accept? Also how do you close those feature requests without the user feeling shut down or ignored?

Thanks for your inputs, I'm really looking forward to the discussion and to finding out how you deal with these sorts of things.

Top comments (6)

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dmfay profile image
Dian Fay • Edited

Oh hey you're why I've started getting polybar updates again recently! Nice work, I switched over from i3blocks a while back :)

I have my own moderately popular open source project. As a data access framework there's a smaller audience and less feature surface area (at least as far as end users are concerned) than there is for UI components, but I do still get some requests of the nature you describe. They usually live or die by the willingness of the originator to get their hands dirty and make at least a start on implementation, although I've got a few languishing in the "nice to think about someday" file. If I outright reject something, I do try to take the time to lay out why it doesn't mesh with the project's overall goals. It's no sin to have a vision and stick to it.

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chrisparnin profile image
Chris­čî▒Parnin • Edited

Michael DeHaan---creator of ansible---gave a nice talk about open source communities and adoption, which I believe touches on feature requests. Should be worth watching if you have a chance.

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patrick profile image
Patrick Ziegler

I'll be sure to check it out when I get some time. Thanks!

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tux0r profile image
tux0r

If I like the suggestion, I will implement it.

If I don't, it won't hurt my income...

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patrick profile image
Patrick Ziegler

That's certainly a way to do it. What do you tell people when you are not accepting a feature request? Do you explain what you don't like about a certain feature?

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tux0r profile image
tux0r

Usually, yes. :)