I quit the core team, here is why

Yesterday, at last, after been thinking about it for several months, I have made a decision that I will no longer be actively contributing to Elgg core. There are many reasons, but here are some of them, which will hopefully give some food for thought, "valuable feedback", if you will:

1. There is no core team. Two people is hardly a team, more like a couple of headless nerds. I don't want to remain in the team just by name. Either in or out, either you do the work, contribute ideas and time, or you don't. The ideas I have require too much work, and there is virtually noone willing to help, so it's my will to "make the world a better place" against my desire "to live in a world that is a good place".

2. Elgg is a bottomless well. No matter how much work and time you put in it, it's never enough. There is so much legacy code that it's like a pyramid built of matches, you pull one thing and the whole thing comes down crashing on you. Over a decade of patching and patching and patching. People just need to get serious about refactoring and rewriting.

3. It's a thankless job. The only benefit at this point for me is the green square in my Github contribution chart. I spend anywhere from 20 to 50 hours most weeks on core, not to mention not being able to sleep because the sheer complexity of the next feature I am thinking about or waking up with thoughts about the bug I might have overlooked in the last pull request. 

4. I am not progressing. I feel like I am stuck in the loop of doing and re-doing the same tasks, writing and re-writing the same bits of code over and over again. I don't have time to try new technologies, because all I am doing is trying to improve Elgg and there is no end to it.

5. No satisfaction. I no longer get a sense of accomplishment when writing plugins, because I feel it's just a drop in an ocean of what needs to be done. Unfortunately, the quality of code of in the plugin repo, is mediocre and I hardly ever find plugins that I could drop in production with a peace of mind. I live with the constant sense of unfinished business, and I can't stand it anymore. I want to end my week feeling like I've done what I had to and spend a weekend with a book.

6. No creativity. I don't see any original ideas, nothing to inspire or motivate. 

7. Too high of a price. Most of the time that I spend on core comes at the expense of work time, or time with friends and family. Given lack of satisfaction from this work and financial renumeration, it just no longer makes sense, at least not in the amounts that are required to get anywhere.

I am not yet sure if I will continue developing for Elgg, but if I do, this will most likely no longer be free. The amount of work that goes into maintaining the plugins in the course of several years (even if the initial development was sponsored) is not worth "valuable feedback" from somebody building a bible group or a community dedicated to a subject that goes completely against my core values. I am tired of this parasitic attitude of taking, taking, taking and never giving back anything in return.


  • that's all totally understandable to me. i am in the process of integrating some of your newer hype plugins and am intending to donate to you because they will make a great difference to my site (and i now am able to donate - which i haven't been able to for a long time).. that said though, my donation won't be enough to change your position on the comments you made here, it will be a thankyou from me. so thankyou, anyway bro'!

    i wonder, is it possible to create a licensing structure for elgg where those users who use elgg fully commercially may only do so by paying a subscription fee?

  • except i don't have a way of paying you ;)
    if you let me know your paypal address it will help.

  • You've been a huge help and your plugins bring an amazing value to the project.

    I'm sorry it's been a rough time. I think it's totally fair to want to put your effort into work you'll be compensated for and be able to really move forward. I've had similar periods of obsessing over trying to enact big changes that keep growing and growing in scope. We want big ideas to inspire others to jump in and clear a path for them but it can't always happen in a large, mature project with a small team. We have to manage our expectations, contribute when it's fun, move on when it's not.

  • Ismayil Khayredinov  Ismayil Khayredinov , Thanks for being honest with the community members about the issues that you have experienced with the Elgg project.

    There are many reasons why Elgg project is going through these challenges. As a developer, I have a few inputs I can share that might need to be considered.

    1. Three years ago, the community was active with members who were curious to use elgg and developers who were developing plugins for elgg at a reasonable rate. However, when most young new developers who were trying to learn elgg started to gain more knowledge about Elgg Engine, new versions of elgg Engine started rolling in at a higher rate and most plugin developers were left behind. Soon the interest of most plugin developers started going down. As a result, the feedback on elgg activity page started decreasing.

    2. As a plugin developer, I have developed several plugins for fun and most for my clients. Time and Time again, especially when developing a theme plugin for a client or for fun, the elgg engine structure does not make it easier when using custom CSS or "non Elgg CSS". Hence, theme developers have to spend a lot of time to go around elgg CSS system and that can be frustrating for a developer who wants things accomplished on a daily basis.

    I am not complaining but just raising just a few thoughts of mind. I had 3 minutes before going to work and decided to share just two of my thoughts.

    Hope this can help someone know that It will take the whole team to make Elgg Great Again and I give thanks for a few core developers who have stayed around for all this time.


  • Well, I was an advocate of radical and faster changes. I don't agree that a faster release cycle was a bad thing for Elgg, on the contrary we are in a lot better shape now, but nowhere close to a place I would call a happy place.

    I don't see how Elgg's CSS is on the way of anything. Just strip it out and write your own.

  • ...when most young new developers who were trying to learn elgg started to gain more knowledge about Elgg Engine, new versions of elgg Engine started rolling in at a higher rate

    From my perspective the devs stopped arriving, then later we ramped up changes. If the core team hadn't been free to add features, I think we would've abandoned the project even earlier.

    There's nothing stopping anyone here from forking the repo and promising to provide extended long-term support for the 2.3 (or even 1.12) branch, we'd even link to it. But I think you'll find it's just not much to support old software forever on your personal time.

  • as much as i support and propose an entirely free society (free as in both beer and speech) (which is beyond the scope of this thread to explain in detail) - i recognise that as long as most humans use 'money' to access what they need, then it is useful to look at ways to fund the projects we rely on and use. if i had the funds to give, for example, i would have no problem in funding this project - but since i don't, obviously i can't. however, i do wonder how much extra support the larger users would provide if they realised that they either had to do that or lose the software. universities, governments and corporations use elgg right?

  • Wow. I just opened the Discussions page to look up how to build a plug-in (to exchange the header title with a logo) and found this thread at the top. 

    Ismayil, your work was not in vain. I am building a prototype for a nonprofit that will enable individuals to give tax-deductible donations to other individuals, and elgg was the only resource I could find within my budget of $0 (an exaggeration, but you get the point). Thank you for all of your hard work. 

    I promise to dedicate a portion of my time while unemployed to figuring out how to make plug-ins for elgg that are worthwhile. I have tons of ideas all the time, but I have learned to sleep on them.

    I do need help with my project. And if I can raise enough money, I will be able to pay for the work. Right now, I need this prototype completed as well as an animation to explain how the website will work in order to post the campaign on Generosity by Indiegogo. Ping me, if anyone is interested.

  • Sad indeed, but following your opinions and decisions over the years it seems like it was meant to happen. I wonder what the core team (as I understand is now one person, is that Juho or Steve ?) is planning with the project.

    We have some strategic interest in Elgg, so I'd like to know if we have to go solo with a temp fork and replace the engine in time with our own or is there some other revival plan from the foundation ?

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