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Programming Psychology

Open Source Contribution Graph And Competitive Eating

A lot of people have been bragging about their GitHub contributions and sharing their “sea-of-green” activity charts on the line, but what is the ideal activity chart? All green? All dark-green?

Here is my humble GitHub activity; a scattering of occasional contributions.

GitHub Activity

Many might be ashamed of such a humble activity report – but not me. I value open-source software and use a great deal of it. I respect the people whose efforts have made my life more enjoyable, whether they are being paid to write open-source software or whether they give up spare time to do it.

What I think we need to avoid is turning any community activity into competition eating. I’m not talking about serious competition eating – the kind that looks like people shouldn’t survive. I’m talking about the everyday competition eating that people rarely admit to partaking in.

If you go to the pizza buffet, there is a danger that you’ll want to divide the cost between the maximum number of slices of pizza to get the best return on investment. This is the beginnings of competition eating and you haven’t even caught the eye of your cheeky friend who will shake his head at you for being such a lightweight – just 18 slices?!

When you go to the floppy-chicken-shack for wow-hot-chicken, you survey the levels of heat and just know that you can’t go anywhere below “hot” and keep the respect of your competitive heat-ing friends.

And so it continues on community projects such as GitHub. The temptation to dominate the graph sparks the competitive nature in you.

But hold on, though. While my GitHub commits may be sparse, I can fill in the gaps of grey with other things. There was the three months where I was spending my out of work project time on writing a book, or those weeks where we were trialling a new process at work and it was quite tiring, or the week where I spent my evening reading, or with my Wife or daughter.

The sum of human endeavour will always be more than a statistic or graph or a series of badges, yet it is so easy to forget when the glowing screen beckons the bony finger of temptation.