I have a few github projects on the go at the same time.

I am only actively working on one at any one time which can take months. My other projects remain in a semi-completed state. Is there a developer convention to indicate a project as being on hold? I.e. no active development?

  • 1
    Just don't put any release as long as the project isn't finished. Or add a note in the readme "not finished yet.". Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 21:04

2 Answers 2


If the project is not usable in its current form, say something to that extent near the beginning of the README. It doesn't have to be a bold big all-caps "Do not use", but it should be noticeable to an idiot in a hurry to save everyone's time.

If the project is usable but in a dire state, you should probably say in rather clear terms that you are not maintaining the project and (if you want to be nice) suggest alternatives for people who are using the project or would want to use the project. If the project is registered on package manager repositories like NPM, RubyGems, PyPI, etc, it's probably also good form to publish "one last update" to update the description -- but don't have your package emit additional console output unless the user can disable it.

If the project is usable but you need to take a hiatus, make this clear in any open issues. It's good to know that a project isn't actively maintained at the moment but not dead, because otherwise you may not think to have another look when the maintainer resumes their work (or a new maintainer has taken over). Also do this if you are actually looking for maintainers: if someone went through the trouble of creating a PR or raising an issue, they may be interested in contributing further or at least tell others.

Additionally, if you have a lot of active and a lot of inactive repos cluttering up your account and you find the inactive ones too distracting, you could create a GitHub organization and move the unfinished/exploratory projects there. It won't be an obvious indicator to others, but you may find it soothing. I may have gone overboard with this (I also moved all my one-off forks into a separate org), but I think it's more humane than just deleting abandoned projects.

  • pluma, many thanks for the top tips. I hadn't thought of moving my unfinished repos to a separate organisation. Great idea and I know of a few which haven't yet been forked so this is good.
    – Faktor 10
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 21:46

You could always update the Readme (since I'm assuming most people will see that on the main Github page for your project).

I would say just continue on doing what you are doing. Work on another project and come back to this one when you're ready. Maybe someone will fork and contribute in your absence. Who knows, that is the beauty of open source. Your timestamp for checking in revisions should indicate to everyone who doesn't check your Readme that you are busy elsewhere.

  • thanks @Water I will update my README.md, seems perfectly sensible.
    – Faktor 10
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 21:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.