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.


  • the difference between a strong future for elgg vs. the near or total end of elgg

    False dichotomy.

  • Let's not explore the idea of a license change here. Perhaps in another thread you could explain the mechanisms that would save Elgg after the license becomes commercial (and the impacted businesses immediately fork it).

  • @Michele, you are 100 % right on the theme part. Nowadays both developers and site owners are working on a tight budget and developers are working on tight time schedule.

    Wordpress has scored well when it comes to designing themes. The best way for elgg core team to give theme developers an option to save time when developing themes for elgg should be to give theme developers an option to build both Javascript and css in a separate or independent caching system so that if the theme developers dose not want to strip core or native elgg css and javascript, instead can be able to call their own css or javascript from the caching system without starting to write css or javascripts from scratch --- this way theme developers can save time.

    If elgg custom catching system can be achieved, then developing themes that are better or as good as wordpress can be achieved without extending or unextending elgg css or javascripts in the plugin start.php file or overriding the elgg core css and javascript file.

    This way, theme developers can build several theme templates for elgg that are appealing to future elgg customers at a reasonable price just like wordpress themes.

    ~~~ Posted via a cellphone ~~~

  • If Elgg being able to use a WordPress theme is a goal, I suggest you put in the initial research work for that would entail. Take an average (whatever that means) theme and see all the functions it uses and all the logic required to execute its template files on particular pages, and make some judgments on how Elgg might provide that functionality. Feel free to open a ticket to document those findings. You have to convince others that that's a reachable and worthwhile goal in which to invest their personal time.

    Personally I think it's a cool idea and one that would raise eyebrows, but it's a daunting task to start.

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