An announcement went up last week on the IFTF blog. You may already have seen it, but it's important and I want to talk about it some more.
[...] While we wish we could take over and maintain software projects, we just don’t have the resources right now. What we can do instead is act as social matchmakers and try to connect projects with volunteers.
Toward this end, we’re establishing a new project called the IFTF Adoptable Technology Archive.
The IFTF Adoptable Technology Archive will be a public archive of adoptable technology on GitHub. If someone owns a project that needs a new owner, they can put it on a free and open-source software license (we favor the MIT license) and pass it over to us, and we’ll put it up on the archive. The benefit of using our archive (instead of putting it up on GitHub as an individual) is that it will be visible under the IFTF “adopt me!” umbrella. This will create a place where developers can go and see all submitted IF projects in need of adoption, while abandoned projects benefit from the related publicity. We’ll also announce all new additions to the archive via our social media channels.
(-- announcement, Feb 14, IFTF blog)
(The Adoptable Technology home page now exists!)
One of the unfortunate truths of the hobbyist IF field is that most of our open-source projects have lost momentum since the late 1990s. There are a couple of reasons for this. A cohort of fans who grew up with Infocom became energetic 20-somethings with lots of free time, but are now 40-somethings with families, mortgages, or other such temporal entanglements. Also, the IF field has become more diverse. When everybody was playing Z-machine games, there were lots of people working on Z-machine interpreters! But the field has broadened.
There have also been many, many experimental IF projects that never went anywhere. Some of these can be found on the IF Archive, or even on GitHub. But if you don't know they exist, they might as well have vanished.
The Adoptable Technology project is our first small step towards saving these projects. As the announcement says, we don't (yet) have the resources to actively maintain them. Instead, we can put them into a sort of showcase (a GitHub organization). This has two incremental benefits:
- Onlookers can see the list of projects in the collection. They are, at minimum, no longer invisible.
- If someone wants to pick up a stalled or abandoned IF project, they have a list of possibilities to compare.
To be sure, not every stalled or abandoned IF project needs to be in the collection. We're not pushing this as a panacea! Nor have we committed ourselves to filling it up. An IF project maintainer may just be looking to recruit volunteers, or to hand the project off in some other way.
Quest is an example from a couple of months ago. They spread the word that they were looking for new maintainers, and they were able to find people that suited their needs. We're happy to help pass along such requests from anyone in the IF field.
But if a project really loses all support, we've got a place for it that will help avoid total invisibility. That's what the Adoptable Technology collection is. It's currently empty except for a README. Perhaps it will remain so for a while. But it's our small step.