If you know of an open source project whose organizer

  • has gotten really busy that he doesn't maintain it that much
  • and he's the type of guy that doesn't accept contributions until a few months later (busy I guess) if at all
  • and the project is starting to flounder

would you fork this project, give it a new name, and continue working hard on it and build a new community around it that's more encouraging to code contributions? Basically a better managed project since the concern now is bad management.

3 Answers 3


One should start by seeing if the current maintainer would be willing to let you take over. Since the issue is that he his busy, I would expect him to be willing to hand it off. If that works it is better for everyone involved.

If that fails, I'd suggest collecting contributions into a distribution that you maintain without making it a separate project. That way you work within the existing community. The hope is that eventually the maintainer will see the light and accept your offer to take over.

If that fails, fork it. At that point you have gained some visibility and I think you'll attract some of the original community. But at the same time, you have made it clear its not your desire to split the community.

  • This seems to be one of the downfalls of opensource software... you start using a project and then it starts to falter, hence the decision point you are in. I like this answer as it tries to go though existing channels and then forks if nothing else works. I would also continue to try and merge your changes into the original project from time to time. Maybe if you get enough users jumping ship, the original owner will listen. Good luck.
    – cjstehno
    Oct 12, 2010 at 21:19
  • +1 would also add that if you use GitHub or similar then it is quite easy to fork a code base without splitting the community because fork and merge becomes so easy.
    – mikera
    Oct 3, 2012 at 23:47

I would fork it and do what I needed to do. If that attracted other people, keen to contribute, so be it. I wouldn't go out of my way to try lure people away. That's too much like politicking (for my taste).

  • +1. It leaves the option of merging the changes back, doesn't step on any toes, but still lets you get done what you need. Nov 10, 2010 at 14:33

I would contact the original project organizer to see if he'd be willing to step aside and let you manage it. Of course, you need to build a good case as to why you would be better than him. If he's a decent guy who is willing to accept criticism, than you will work something out.

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