@═╦╣╚╗ A mazing engineer
08-Jun-2019 Open Source, Biochemistry, and Happiness!
No code this week. Not even a single reference.
We, software developers, are those guys envied by many, because of a significantly higher chances to get satisfaction from what we do. Some say only 5% of the world population are happy about what they do. Are you?
Rewind to 100'000 years ago, or to even earlier. We are predators, spending their lives in the search for prey.
Evolutionary, our brain helps us out with risk management by injecting chemical substances, neurotransmitters, to stimulate behavior.
When the prey is too far, you'll feel relaxed. No need to spend your effort for something that won't bring benefits. This is what you feel when you procrastinate.
When you have high chances of success, you'll feel excited. This is when a new project is announced. Well, sometimes.
If your hunt succeeded, dopamine is injected, and you feel satisfaction. This is when the project is complete.
You feel satisfied. But it doesn't last long. You only feel it for minutes, if not seconds.
And you obsessively want more of that feeling.
The species and individuals that felt satisfaction for longer than the others were ousted by their less satisfied neighbours.
Rewind back to the current moment. Not so simple anymore. Even though everything is so easy now.
Food is delivered to our door. Comfort, safety, warmth. Entertainment!
You have nothing to achieve, you perform mundane and repetitive tasks.
Or, you work on an endless project with no milestones.
And no rewards from your brain. No satisfaction.
If you're working on an interesting project, like me, that might not be a problem.
However, working heads down on an interesting project might fed one to the teeth.
This is where one starts to feel the lack of satisfaction, and burnout starts to shape up.
People start looking around, inside the company, and for the new employers.
Revenons à nos moutons!
Meet open source, a collaborative effort of writing software, contributed by many, and used by many-many.
Some find joy in contributing to open source software, including myself.
It is rewarding.
You may quickly fix an annoying thing that bugs you during your daily job.
Or, you may improve some arbitrary thing you think is not good enough.
Or, start a new thing that will save lives, or at least hours of other people's lives.
If you maintain an open source project, you meet different reactions, from gratefulness to hatered.
This latter is no surprise - sometimes you have to say "no".
But there's one thing.
Don't let people waste their time.
And I have three simple rules for you to remember if you're willing for the contributors to come back again with more contributions.
1. Quickly review.
Do not let contributions hang.
Let people know how to get their thing submitted, and move on to other things.
If a contribution is not reviewed/approved quickly, the contributor feels deprived.
And next time their brain will inject that neurotransmitter that leads to procrastination rather than excitement.
2. Make the expectations clear.
Do not make contributors think what you meant, and what are your secret plans.
Tell them what you would accept upfront.
Make the goal visible, and easy to hit.
3. Say Thank you.
Yes, as simple as that.
It's that secret anchor that lets contributors know their effort is highly appreciated.
That they are a part of that movement.
Stimulate that reward mechanism.
And your contributors will come back to your project.
Will come back happy to improve it even further.
Happy maintaining and contributing!