How open-source can go wrong

There are a number of ways that Open-source projects can go wrong, where by "going wrong" I mean that it's not receiving bug reports and fixes, it's not seeing patch contributions, and it's not seeing improvement.

If it's a trivial piece of software, or is only intended for a very small niche (e.g. "me and my gaming group"), then that's fine, of course.

Here are some things that have gone wrong in projects I've worked with, which might draw a few parallels with the Truisms.

Nobody uses it

I've seen projects with nobody using them for a number of reasons:

  • It's hard to integrate it into a running system and use it. Maybe it needs some arcane systemd setup which isn't part of the default installation. Maybe it takes a lot of effort to get it to build and install properly.
  • It depends on another piece of software, which isn't finished yet.

There's no plan for improvements

Maybe the maintainer has minimal interest in this project, or is too busy with newer projects. If there's no community to pick up the slack, the project will flounder.

The maintainer isn't interested in contributions

If the maintainer is the only one making changes to the project, then the only fixes and improvements are what the maintainer is interested in. This can be a problem because development will occur more slowly, but is also a problem because the problems the maintainer sees are different from what inexperienced users see.

And finally

That's all the ways open-source can go wrong that I've personally experienced, doubtless there are many, many ways for open-source to go wrong, just like there are many ways for software to go wrong.

What ways have you seen open-source projects gone wrong?