I’ve been involved with the Puppet community for the last 6 or so years. It’s been great to be involved with such a great group of people, and I feel that I’ve been able to contribute a lot to benefit the community as a whole.
But as the years have passed, the work that started as a fun hobby has started to weigh on me. I have been the sole maintainer for many projects, have helped maintain many more, and have frequently been asked to help with yet even more projects. At one point I could expect to see emails for one to two new GitHub issues a day, and conversations on several more. Simply keeping up with this volume of email alone is exhausting. Actually keeping up with fixing bugs, adding features, merging pull requests, and providing support has proved overwhelming.
I’m tired. I’m probably more than a little burned out. I’m unable to keep up with issues, and even if I could I don’t think it would do much good. It’s very important to me to provide a welcoming environment for people, and I don’t think I’m capable of providing the level of positivity and energy needed to do that.
To be honest I’ve become pretty despondent about the state of my involvement with my projects and the community. I’ve felt terrible about all the issues I’ve not been able to get to, all the work that I haven’t done, all the people I haven’t been able to help. I’ve seen issue counts on projects increase and pull requests go stale. There’s just been too much work.
Over the years I’ve found new hobbies. I’ve gotten really interested in building electronics. I’ve gotten involved with some local art projects. In past years I spent most of my free time hiking, and I miss being outside on the evenings and weekends. I love being part of the Puppet community, but I want do more than write code and merge pull requests on my free time.
Because of all of these considerations, I’ve decided that I need to take a break from things.
Over the past few months I have been transferring projects to other people and bringing in new maintainers on my projects, where possible. The Oscar stack has been transferred to a new GitHub organization with a good group maintainers, though more maintainers are always welcome. R10k is now run by Puppet Labs and has a group of developers that are responsible for it. I’ve transferred many modules to the Puppet community. If there’s a module that’s not getting the proper love and care desired, I’m happy to make volunteers maintainers on the module.
I’m giving myself the right to no longer feel guilty. I’m giving myself the right to stop watching GitHub projects I created. I’m giving myself the right to not feel ashamed when an email comes in from GitHub that I’m not going to respond to. I’m giving myself the right to stop for a while and recharge so that I can feel enthusiastic about contributing again, instead of feeling bitter and stressed.
I’m not planning on vanishing forever. I’ve recently had a lot of fun contributing to rspec-puppet; I forgot how nice it could be to just be an individual contributor rather than a maintainer. I’ll still be around in various forms to pipe up, help out, and maybe add a little bit of twisted humor.
Thank you all for the times that we’ve shared. I’ll be seeing you around.