Be prepared to do it yourself

I have a bad habit of giving advice on running open source projects, which is something I have only the slightest measure of experience with.

But I’m going to do it again, so brace yourself: Be prepared to do everything yourself.

And by that I mean money, time, effort, skill, artistic talent and even advertising, in the sense of increasing public awareness of your project.

I read yet another high-minded site this morning, suggesting quite a few lofty changes in a particular package, changing this and that and pointing out flaws here and there. (No, no link this time.)

But every suggestion was punctuated with an “I can’t do this alone, though,” or “I don’t have time to take care of that myself,” or even “I need someone to do this for me.”

Sorry, but I have almost no hope of seeing those changes ever take place. You’ve shot yourself in the foot already, and you’re not even past the imagination stage.

Maybe I’m a pessimist, but suggesting changes or additions and then saying you can’t do it, that someone else has to get their hands dirty. … Well, it’s not just silly, it’s almost rude.

Be prepared to do everything yourself. You have to be sufficiently motivated and talented and equipped to go from zero to 100, from version 0.0-alpha to 1.0-final, under your own power.

If you get lucky, someone who is like-minded might join your troupe and complement your skills. And that makes things infinitely easier. But prepare for that as the exception, not the rule.

Because if you’re not ready to tackle every aspect of your project, no matter how daunting, then you’ll end up two years down the road with a stale blog, a couple of mockups and nothing much to show for it.

Don’t wait for someone to do things for you. Do it yourself, or don’t do it at all.

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