It is hard to not to get blasted with dozens of github links on a daily basis.
Github has grown to be the social network for coders and wannabes, and like all social networks people compete to bring attention to their profile.
One way they go about it is to post about their projects on hacker news, reddit or some blog somewhere that I am sent a link to. Some of them sound really amazing and useful.
I used to be filled with joy at the vastness of the code available and all the amazing projects that lived there. And this is still true. There are an amazing gems on there, but like all gems, they are buried in a pile of dirt or more appropriately here “vaporware” and / or “dead projects”
Some are very easy to spot. The repository consists a long readme file that lists everything the projects does and little else. Someone had a dream and maybe it will grow someday.
What I find much more frustrating are the projects that have a nice readme file and code in the repo. But when you start digging into the projects to learn what cool algorithms its uses and how a feature is implemented it is not there. Lots of code files but nothing of substance.
When you start digging in you really have no idea how far along a project is. The “advert” / link you followed to get there promised unicorns swimming in gold, but what you find is a bunch of nonsense. The frustrating part is that you have to invest a good deal of time to come to this realization. After this happens a few times in a row you become weary of investing your time at all. This is a very damaging result. Good open source projects need eager people to dig in and help.
I suggest a “vaporware” indicator. This would let me easily assess the state of a project without digging through obscure code files only to be disappointed. By default all projects are vaporware. The contributors can reduce the level of vaporware and visitors can vote to increase it or decrease it.
Another indicator I would like to see is a “dead project” indicator. This is partially there already when you look at project activity but a nice badge would be easier to spot.
There are thousands of projects that are both vaporware and dead and that will in all probability remain in that state forever.
Given that github already has a “gaming” aspect to it, like everything these days a nice carrot would be a badges like: “Certified Real”, “Actually Works” , “Production ready”, “Ships in Ubuntu 10.1”, “100 000 current users”.
This would give everyone who clicked into the project a quick way to assess its status and evaluate whether its worth their time or not. Some ideas are so good that even if the project is in a state of vapor people will still flock to them to create something special