I’ve finally wrapped my brain around… well, maybe not wrapped, more like tap-danced around what Paul Graham meant by his famous “It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself. The very best s̵t̵a̵r̵t̵u̵p̵ ideas tend to have three things in common: they’re something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing.”
YouTube drops bombshell
It all started over Reddit a few months ago with a post named, Apparently Ad Blockers are not allowed on Youtube. Is this a new thing they’ve implemented?
And judging by all the recent comments and posts all over r/youtube, this change was just rolled out on a larger scale. A storm was coming.
A novel solution or maybe just a clever monkey-patch conceived on a wild Saturday night — “No Regrets!”
Maybe not that “wild”…or at all. Yeah. Anyways, FadBlock was a thing that came out on the other end after a two-hour code-athon which was successfully submitted to the web stores by the stroke of hour number eight, or was it ten? Who cares.
How did FadBlock set itself apart from the ‘big daddy’ — uBlock?
This blocker was designed to automagically seek and skip the ads rather than classifying itself as a traditional ad-blocking extension as uBlock, as well as ad-blockers all over the globe, were being hit by YouTube’s anti-ad-blocking mechanisms rendering almost everything useless, including famous Firefox and Brave’s in-built adblockers.
In a world where ad-blockers were like the unreliable sidekicks, along swooped in FadBlock, the new YouTube nemesis, a new symbol to give Google the “finger” as declared by the wits over Reddit.
Don’t create “cool”, “amazing” or “beautiful” README
…or for that matter anything resembling “beautification”.
It doesn’t work. If you’re like me, you have created a handful of “beautiful” README’s without luck after reading most blogs titled “How to get 1k GitHub Stars” and following the author’s so-called advice.
(shoutout to Kitze’s blog though)
Documentation, like writing in general, gains elegance through continuous repetition and refinement over time.
In the initial README, your main objective is to explain what is this, and how to use that. That’s flipping it. The end.
I built it and THEY F*CKING CAME
But seriously, I don’t know much to tell you. I mean, sure, after I published the repository over GitHub, I downloaded the Reddit app, logged into my dusty account, joined r/youtube subreddit, and submitted a post about “FadBlock” as well as wrote a few CTA-based comments on some of the relevant threads at that time. That was it. Really.
So I have no “Be active in developer communities i.e. Twitter (I’m not saying “X”, kiss my gluteus maximus); Dev.to; Hacker News; Product Hunt; LinkedIn maybe even Facebook?” or “Grow a community” or “find relevant newsletters” or in general, “Advertise” kind of advice.
Ship early, ship often
Every developer knows or at least has read this numerous times, it’s just me reminding my self-proclaimed “perfectionist” keister.
Release the first version as soon as it’s useful. Don’t wait. You don’t have to be satisfied with it. You’ll never be.
When you sprinkle some awesome sauce (feature) on your project, there’s no need to twiddle your thumbs waiting to unleash it. It just has to work. The moment you toss it out there, the feedback fairy sprinkles her wisdom, letting you know if you’re on the right track or if you need to do the hokey-pokey and take a different route. The quicker you get that feedback, the better.
Ask for money
Yes. The M word. It can really boost your motivation and confidence if people consider your project to be actually worth something. You can just have a PayPal Donate button or set up “GitHub Sponsors” to receive sponsorships.
First time I took the plunge, and folks actually chipped in. Yes, I know. That blog where you read that no one sponsors open-source projects, it’s true, 99% of us don’t but that 1%, those who do, really value you and your project.
But most of all, their emotions move you way more than the money.
One last tea-spilling, unfiltered wisdom
As you may already realize, having an open-source project is hardly only about writing code. It’s about people. As your project gets rolling, you will receive bug reports, pull requests, and opinions. A lot of opinions.
It turns out that when people criticize something it’s because they care about it. Keep that in mind when you read reactions to your work, dive in and make a splash in the open-source ocean, and remember to enjoy the swim!