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.


  • Elgg isn't going anywhere and there are still people who do things though not actively. Instead of making a fork just contribute to the core. That's the whole problem - companies have strategic interests, make money selling Elgg services, but when time comes to contribute back, they look for other strategic ways out...

  • Not entirely true, but I get your point. You do have to understand that companies like ours have to pay our developers and therefore it is not free for us to contribute, as for an individual spending his free time just because he is doing what he likes to do.

    When I personally started with elgg I also was such an enthusiast contributing, making plugins and engaging in the discussion. I lost interest when the core team did not seem to listen to my wishes for a different data model, supporting no-sql, easing the pace of deprecation and not facilitating proper CMS, api , split front end from backend development with angular, html5 etc..

    I am probably the worst developer in our team, but my architecture background is still very valuable to them and could have been for Elgg as well.

    Anyway, we still have supported the project from the sidewalk with plugins, upgrades, discussions and pr's. Maybe not as much as we could have, but far more then most community members. Most of them could not, even when they wanted too.

    So giving the state of the project, we do need to look at ways out if there is no plan to continue. Stepping in and fortify the core team is currently not feasible for us, since our interest is not high enough to rationalize such a decision.

    I am open for a constructive offline discussion with whoever is left in the core team to see how we can help and still not drag us into a pitfall where we cannot achieve our own goals.

  • Companies have to understand that for every hour they contribute they will save two. You should consider all the junk boilerplate code your devs have to write, over and over. It would have saved them time if they streamlined the process within the core.
    Anyhow, I am done with this discussion. From now on I only care about 0s in my bank account, not how to save time to companies like yours by building a better framework.

  • Those two statements are in total contradiction with each other. The first advocates that companies or devs should contribute with a commercial intent, the second advocate a total lack of contribution because of personal financial interest.

    I would therefore conclude this discussion that you fully see my point of the ambiguity of commercial interest versus free contribution. I think that we are making a better judgment than you by not choosing either one.

  • It's disappointing, but I totally get it.  My contributions have been exceedingly low for a while now and it's purely due to a lack of available time.  We have to order our priorities whatever those are.

  • Gerard, I have put in a few thousand hours of free work into core and plugins, before I finally concluded that it's going to kill me. I don't choose half-way, because I am well pass the point where I would feel guilty for freeriding on someone's work.

  • to be clear, the first statement by ismayil does not advocate contributing specifically with a commercial intent. the first statement advocates contributing only - but if the contributor is using the code commercially then there may be a commercial intent behind the action. a company can, contrary to popular opinion, actually operate non-commercially - just because it sees the benefit of doing so to its overall intentions. i'm sure michele of socialbusinessworld has something to say on that.

    i feel that what is missing is balance, which is no surprise since nearly everything on earth is so imbalanced. it is probably not balanced for a developer to put so many hours into a free project while not being supported in a world that puts barcodes on everything and which has deliberately sought to eliminate 'free' from reality (e.g. free food bearing plants have been all but eliminated from public places). it is also not balanced for revenue generating groups to use the hard work of unpaid developers without providing anything in reply to that hard work - whether it be money, time coding or time testing/supporting.

    with a project management hat on, i find it very difficult to know what the best option is for elgg since i have zero idea of which organisations and websites are using elgg and so which ones are in the best position to support elgg in the ways needed. i think it is a good idea to do something to stop freeloading from commercial groups by requiring them to pay a commercial license.

  • in fact, it is not just commercial groups that are involved in this - i think possibly also government groups do too.

  • Most of the copyright holders would not agree to change the license including me.

  • why is that steve? even if it means the difference between a strong future for elgg vs. the near or total end of elgg?

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