[clug] How you know your Free or Open Source Software Project is doomed to FAIL

Scott Ferguson scott.ferguson.clug at gmail.com
Wed Jul 29 00:36:26 UTC 2015

On 29/07/15 07:08, Ivan Lazar Miljenovic wrote:
> On 29 July 2015 at 01:55, Scott Ferguson <scott.ferguson.clug at gmail.com> wrote:
>> A list of indicators that may interest some list readers:-
>> http://spot.livejournal.com/308370.html?nojs=1
>> Some excerpts:-
>> == Building From Source ==
>> * There is no documentation on how to build from source [ +20 points of
>> FAIL ]
>> * If documentation exists on how to build from source, but it doesn't
>> work [ +10 points of FAIL ]
>> * Your source isn't configurable [ +50 points of FAIL ]
> Is a configurable build really necessary?  Especially for smaller
> projects, or ones written in something like Python or Perl where the
> libraries are typically smaller and more focused.

I doubt it. Most rules have exceptions (as a rule). Tom said he
collected these rules based on his experiences working on various
projects. They all seem to have been large, collaborative projects,
involving software that changes over time due both to features being
added, and the environment changing.

So whether the rules are useful would depend on those factors. Given
that - I'd amend my "I doubt it" to maybe. Maybe if you want your
project to grow. e.g. qmail might be considered finished, as might
whatever perl/python utility(?) you have in mind. That doesn't mean that
someone else couldn't see additional uses, or more features.

What if the small perl/python utility could be called, or called by
other programs... being able to enable, or disable those extra
capabilities at build time might extend the life/utility of that code.

>> * Your source only builds with third-party proprietary build tools [ +50
>> points of FAIL ]
>> * You've written your own build tool for this code [ +100 points of FAIL ]
>> === Code Oddities ===
>> * Your code depends on Microsoft Visual Anything [ +100 points of FAIL ]
>> == Documentation ==
>> * Your code doesn't have a changelog [+10 points of FAIL]
>> * Your code doesn't have any documentation [ +20 points of FAIL ]
>> * Your website doesn't have any documentation [ +30 points of FAIL ]
> What happens if you don't have a website? 

Then you'd either have to include the documentation somewhere else, or
earn FAIL points(?).

> Does every little library
> need one? 

One for every library? I doubt it.

> Or does a project page on your VCS hosting sufficient?

I expect so. Will a search engine find it? (he doesn't mention SEO i.e.
will the key words match the search terms used by people looking for
what the project offers)

The points I take away from his list is that FAIL scores determine: how
difficult it is to attract developers, and what the entry level is for
them to usefully contribute; how easy it is for users to find/hear of
the project and determine it's fit for their use case; how easy it is
for users to actually use.

The core factors of project success being (IMO): is it fit for intended
purpose? (hard to tell if it's hard to know what it's supposed to do);
is it maintainable (i.e. standard and availability of developer
documentation; access to source code; ease of gaining committing
ability; ability to communicate with other developers and users;
licensing); is it extendible/adaptable? (relevance); visibility (can't
use or develop what you don't know about); other stuff I haven't thought
of in the time it took to type this.

tl;dr a high FAIL score means (maybe) the project has a low chance of
growing, long-term sustainability, wide spread adoption of it's output.

>> === FAIL METER ===
>> 0 points of FAIL: Perfect! All signs point to success!
>> 5-25 points of FAIL: You're probably doing okay, but you could be better.
>> 30-60 points of FAIL: Babies cry when your code is downloaded
>> 65-90 points of FAIL: Kittens die when your code is downloaded
> Tempting... ;-)

My thoughts also! Also - there's money in that! Our blessed leaders
recently announced an ambitious campaign to massively cull the feral cat
campaign. Just think of how much cheaper it would be to throw a few
bucks at a nationwide program to promote .Net programming schools. Of
course there would be drawbacks (mental health costs, increased
unemployment). But we can never have enough choices when it comes to
calculators, right?

Of course that would compete with my tender to breed bigger and more
aggressive Australorps, with razors strapped to the spurs of the
roosters. What could possibly go wrong?

>> 135+ points of FAIL: So much fail, your code should have its own reality
>> TV show.
>> Kind regards
>> --
>> linux mailing list
>> linux at lists.samba.org
>> https://lists.samba.org/mailman/listinfo/linux

Kind regards

"I use readability tools, I also try and employ critical thought, and I
rely strongly on proofreaders. I'm not a professional writer. I've used
none of those things when writing this, and it only "seemed" OK after a
quick re-read - my apologies in advance for all the very likely errors."
~ standard weasel disclaimer

More information about the linux mailing list