Leaderitis acutis in open source

Leaderitis acutis

In the last days I wanted to contribute to an open source project with some feedback and bugfix/enhancement patches. Although I fully recognize my non-excellent C++ skills, I found the project to be affected by one of the most common diseases in the FOSS world: leaderitis acutis.

This is a purely fictional disease that I just invented and that I have been thinking about recently (I later found out it's used in american politics jargon, although I don't know how closely matches by what I describe here).

I have always been interested in open source philosophy (and also in free software to a lesser extent), thus I always find it appalling deludent when open source projects do not meet the essential expectations (that is very often for the smaller projects around these days).


  1. Project has very few developers and it has not been exposed to the beneficial strength of the "many eyes"
  2. The most prominent developers use the project to foster all their favourite code smells and anti-patterns (lack of comments, cryptic/mangled code, Baklava code, you-name-it)
  3. Issues, patches and any feedback is negatively considered as a critic or even as an offence (although this might have roots deep into cursed developers' personality)
    Sketch by 3-3 studios
  4. The attitude towards any form of feedback that is not a plain compliment is "Sheesh! This is my little precious, you won't touch it!", missing the point that open source is not your own thing, not even when you start it or are the main contributor
  5. As a last resort solution to any civil and logic argument, developers/mantainers will assert that you have no right to express your opinion, or that your opinion is not supposed to be worth anything in first place. To justify this assertion and enforce the paradigm that they should be trusted as superior, God-gifted owners of truth, they will either:
  • specify that your total contributions amount to 0% and their contributions to 99%, cheerfully living in a chicken-and-egg paradox (or simply barring entry to potential contributors to mantain their sphere of influence untouched)
  • possibly try with any form of personal attack like "you make mistakes, thus your opinions are not trustable".


There is no known cure for leaderitis acutis, although progress has been verified with personal growth of the involved developers and mantainers that generally happens when time tells them that open source is not about going solo/berserk.

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