Steve Burge

Talking open source since 2005

I’ve been heavily involved with Joomla and, to a lesser extent, Drupal for a good number of years now.

During that time, I’ve seen forks come and go but they’ve never really sparked my interested. Here are 6 reasons why:

#1. Money. I’ve kids, a wife and a mortgage so I need to pay the bills. There’s rarely enough money in small projects to pay the bills and forks are always small projects.

#2. Open source. I’m far more attached to open source than I am to any brand name such as Joomla, Drupal or WordPress. I work with open source because I want to see live in a society dominated by open rather than proprietary systems. A large and popular project provides a much better platform to make that happen.

#3. Chance of success. 99.9% of forks fail. In fact, 99.9% of open source project fail. People wildly overestimate how rare it is for an open source project to succeed. I saw a very naive comment on Reddit the other day: “the creation of an ecosystem is trivially easy”. Projects like Joomla and Drupal are 1 in 100,000. They caught lightning in a bottle. Your project probably won’t.

#4. People. I’m attached to the people in each open source project rather than just the codebase. I’m a trainer, not a developer, so that’s the way my mind works.

#5. Different place, same drama. I’ve heard people say that they want to start afresh to avoid the drama in the old project. Sorry, but people are people. The grass probably won’t be greener on the other side.

#6. Be different. Rather than forks, which offer more of the same for the first few months or years, it’s a lot more interesting to see something completely new. A great example is Ghost as an alternative to WordPress.

None of this is to say that forks are bad things or that you shouldn’t launch one. These are just the reasons why I probably won’t be interested.