Do you know what #rubythankful is? It’s a hash tag, those are commonly used on Twitter to mark special things. There is even a website displaying all the recent tweets that have been marked as #rubythankful. It first came to my notice (or maybe it was even created) during the summer of 2011 when there was a little drama going on in the Ruby community, which I don’t want to blog about since enough has been said and it had a happy ending (1000s of dollars of donations). During that time someone introduced the #rubythankful hash tag and I was seeing many people tweeting about how awesome this hash tag is and how much they love it. So how about now? How many people are #rubythankful these days?
At the moment of this writing there is just one tweet up there, which was tweeted by myself… and it isn’t the first time that the situation is like this.
Why does this even matter?
So people aren’t using a specific hash tag on twitter and as a result of that some home page looks pretty empty – no big deal huh? Well maybe it is, maybe it is not. I just think it’s kind of sad. Everybody seemed so excited about it, I was seriously hoping that it would be something that we, as the Ruby community, could adopt as a whole and incorporate into our culture.
At this point a little information about myself: I say “we” but I’m pretty new to the Ruby and open source community myself (in fact I just really started in the summer of 2011) so this is my point of view, the one of a newbie – so full of enthusiasm.
It’s not just about a hash tag!
And by incorporating it into our culture I don’t mean simply tweeting with the #rubythankful hash tag every now and then. It’s more the spirit that counts. In the open source community there are tons of people spending a lot of time creating software and then giving everybody full access to it. I think that this is one of the most AWESOME things out there. I mean, think about it, those people and the software they create make our lives easier every day – would it be so hard to say “thank you!” every now and then? All too often I see people ranting about open source projects for how they do things, for changes they haven’t implemented, for changes they implemented etc… these people probably use these tools regularly but instead of getting around to show some appreciation I see them criticizing the work that maybe even helps pay their bills. Of course this isn’t the rule, but it happens.
Saying “Thank you!” is just the beginning!
Saying thank you helps, as it shows a good attitude and it shows open source contributors that their work is valued (I’m always totally happy when someone thanks me for something I did, but well I’m still new). But why stop here? Why not contribute to a project you like? So far all the maintainers I’ve contacted in the Ruby world have been super helpful. Maybe you have this little helper method you use every time when you use a specific gem, maybe people would like it to be part of the gem? Why not just look in the issues on github and see if you can help make one of your favorite gems a little bit better? It’s a cool feeling plus you probably learn much about Ruby and the gem while doing so. I used to be REALLY uncomfortable with Meta-Programming until I read and reused some of _why’s code in hacketyhack!
And if that seems a bit too much, just filing an issue to make the maintainer of a project aware of a problem also helps a great deal!
It’s more general than just Ruby or open source…
I also write this post because I feel that this is a more general problem in modern societies, at least in my experience. You can do something well a hundred times and people will rarely thank you or compliment you. However, if after those many times where you did something good you do something wrong, people are way more likely to criticize you/the project than they are to compliment some good work.
So what’s the point?
I guess my point is that we should probably be a little more thankful for all the awesome things people do. When I was beginning to learn Ruby I read a saying “Matz is Nice So We Are Nice” – I loved that! Unfortunately I have failed to hear it ever again… it would be nice if the Ruby community could readopt this saying and maybe give the #rubythankful a little more love again… or maybe even more.
So will you use the #rubythankful hash tag? I know I will.