npm Blog (Archive)

The npm blog has been discontinued.

Updates from the npm team are now published on the GitHub Blog and the GitHub Changelog.

We have a tendency to police our code ecosystems and it's harmful to those ecosystems and community

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jenn Schiffer, who originally posted it on her blog extremely online and incredibly logged on (you can see the original post here). We feel 100% in agreement about the importance of an inclusive, collaborative, and supportive community and code ecosystem.

I was having lunch the other day with a very cool local dev evangelist and among the many interesting topics we covered in the dev rel world, the one that stuck out was how developers tend to over-worry about whether their contributions to a code ecosystem are actually valuable. This comes up a lot when people ask me if it’s “okay” to post a static site on Glitch or use it to save code snippets or prototype throwaway things (yes!).

When I say “code ecosystem” I mean places like the npm registry, GitHub, and even Glitch. and when I say that developers worry about their contributions there, i mean that we have an actual problem where we are:

  1. As “owners” of these ecosystems, not articulating what we want or don’t want contributed.
  2. As developers in the communities of these ecosystems, projecting our own biases by deciding for others what belongs or doesn’t.

I’ve had many debates with past coworkers, pals, and collaborators about whether a node module that returns the number of seconds in a minute belongs in npm (sure!) or if it’s okay to have a GitHub repo that only contains a readme file listing one’s favorite pizzerias (definitely!) and I find it hard to believe that it’s the ecosystem that detractors of this kind of use are worried about. Honestly, I think it has to do with their idea of the value of repo and module count and contributions.

The open source community has a big problem with projecting our insecurities about our own metrics onto other developers and it’s a bad cycle that makes people of all levels of experience worry about whether their contributions are some fake idea of “worthy” or not. It’s been used as a tool of harm against women in the community (“she hardly has any green on her GitHub”) which in part is harm against the entire community and our code ecosystems.

As developers we need to stop giving weight to these metrics and chill tf out when it comes to judging our peers. As ecosystem owners, we need to better moderate and have more discussions with the community about what we expect of our users with regards to both social behavior and code contributions. I don’t want people judging Glitch users on how many Glitch projects they have or if they are mostly “just remixes,” much like I witness with GitHub.

We call Glitch “the friendly community where you’ll build the app of your dreams” — and that dream app can be a static site, or a markdown file listing your favorite pizzerias - hey, it may inspire you to learn how to evolve it into a map of those places using the google maps api, or not! All of our dreams are different and so all of our contributions to Glitch will be different, and I think that is a big part of what will keep Glitch a friendly community.