I wished GNU Emacs had documentation for contributors so that I know where to submit patches to.

I wished GNU Emacs had a nice and accessible bug tracker with a good UI so that I can easily find out where Emacs needs help or submit my issues to Emacs, and don’t need to dig through a big pile of text mails.

I wished GNU Emacs had a proper life cycle for patches so that I know how to get it merged, when to expect a decision upon its fate and what to do when the patch is stuck with no review and no merge.

I wished GNU Emacs had a list of reviewers and approvers of patches so that as a contributor I know whom to listen to and how to discern relevant feedback from random discussions, off topic remarks and trolling.

I wished GNU Emacs had a proper tool-supported code review process so that I don’t have to send diffs to mail addresses, gather feedback from lengthy mailing list threads, try discern the important from the unimportant, and manually keep a list of open issues, and repeat the cycle until a patch is finally merged.

I wished GNU Emacs had a culture of kindness, of constructive criticism and positive feedback so that I don’t have to bear with snide remarks in mailing list threads or to read comments whose only purpose is to support and restore a position of power and browbeat the other.

I wished GNU Emacs had a Code of Conduct that kept at bay all the trolls, all the noise, all the ugly facets of projects run by white angry male developers.

I wished GNU Emacs would stop to complain about the lack of new contributors when they do nothing to create a welcoming environment for them.


Hey Emacs,

don’t be surprised that you fail to hire young developers when you don’t use contemporary tools, don’t establish contemporary processes, and don’t make them feel safe.

You don’t need to like GitHub, but don’t be surprised that developers who grew up with GitHub don’t enjoy contributing to your project. You may enjoy your male white hacker culture from the past decades but don’t be surprised that a new generation of developers who shun this culture and seek for more open, more diverse and more welcoming environment also shun your project.


Don’t complain about a lack of contributors. They’re out there. But you’ve got to go out and find them, approach them, welcome them. And you’ve got to go out of your way, leave your comfort zone, and look into other directions.