cat /dev/brain

On the Importance of Public Email Addresses

I have started to notice a trend. More and more people are aggressively attempting to integrate themselves into open source projects. Some are doing so spectacularly, while others are struggling. And the people who struggle seem to become agitated, aggressive, and their attempts to contribute discourage everyone involved.

Often, when I see someone struggling, I go to their profile and attempt to contact them by email to offer advice in private. This has proved successful and it's something I learned from my work in and around OpenStack. This, of course, requires that you assume the other person is acting in good fath and will be willing to change their behaviour to be more productive. The problem with this approach is that it requires the person to have a publicly findable email address. The last few times I've attempted to do this, I've found that the user did not have an email address publicly available. In this case I have a few options (in order of most effort to least):

  1. Find a recent commit of theirs and grab the email from the author information.

    One problem is that not everyone who uses GitHub commits code. Another problem with this is that these people clearly do not want to be emailed. By using the email address they use to commit code, I'm violating their implicit desire to not be emailed.

  2. Start correcting them (publicly) on issues or merge requests.

    This has the occasional adverse effect that it causes people to stop contributing.

  3. Ignore them and let them flounder.

    This is just plain rude, but occasionally I just don't have the energy to deal with someone. I can't always prioritize everyone else above myself.