Ask HN: How to say no to a GitHub issue feature request?
125 points by mit20220401 4 hours ago | hide | past | favorite | 127 comments
Feeling very upset about a feature request.

The main reason is, the requester behaves like I am hired to customise the software for him. And I should keep working until he is satisfied.

Even if I don’t like it, they keep saying this is very good feature, blabla…

What should I say? F… off?

For these kinds of people, they will never understand the manner of GitHub and do some PR.

And they won’t pay at all…

My decision tree:

1. Do I think this is a good feature? No -> I’m sorry, I don’t think this is a good fit for the project.

2. Am I excited about implementing it? No -> This is a good idea, but I’m not up for adding it right now. If you or someone else wanted to send a PR I’d be happy to review!

3. Am I going to get to this soon? No -> This is a good idea, and something I’d like to add, but I might not get to it for a while. If you or someone else wanted to send a PR I’d be happy to review!

4. If it passes all these filters it’s generally something I do right away. Fewer and fewer of these as the simple excellent features have generally all been added.

So far I’ve found that as long as I’m clear with people no one gets obnoxious. If they did I’d say something about how this is a project I maintain for fun in my spare time.

The best thing to do is to decide where your boundaries are, and then tell them.

I was in your position many times. I was so frustrated to feel like the other person was entitled to my time. Then I had to fight my urges to tell them to fuck off, wasting even more time and energy in the process. Even if I replied, it wasn’t helpful to anybody if I was being polite but passive-aggressive.

Then I realized that it was a huge misunderstanding. How can people know what my limits are if I don’t tell them? We don’t all share the same sensibilities and background. Instead of getting upset, it’s possible to tell people and move on. 99% of the time people understand and respect that.

Since then, I adopt the following classification:

1. Is the feature interesting to me? Let them know

2. If not, would I accept a PR for it? Let them know, with also some criteria for inclusion. No half-baked attempts please.

That’s it.

One surprising thing I discovered is that I wasn’t entirely clear where my limits were. Going through that process over and over again helped me figure that out. And become better at communicating clearly.

That really is a great example, but it’s very noticeable that you both went into it with the perfect attitude (and maintained an awareness that each had different needs & goals).

It’s the “Veruca Salt” case that’s much more difficult to solve for.

And if 2. is “no” then let them know why not, but there is no need to “debate” it further either.

Sometimes it’s very important NOT to add features to a project. In fact I would argue that this is one of the strengths of OSS projects compared to “enterprise software”.

Along with the ‘no’ it may help to point out that they are free to fork the project and add the feature to their own fork, or hire someone to build it for them. That won’t stop the most extreme class of complainers, but it’ll shave of another few.

Why pointing out something that is a distinguishing feature of open source?

I don’t need your permission to fork off the license allow me to, but telling me that I’d like putting a comment like „btw, did you know that 2+2=4“.


Each software has a shape that makes sense, in the eye of the creator. That shape might change but it has to stay internally consistent somehow.

Unlike companies, we don’t have to eternally grow the software to satisfy every customer and stay releavant. Projects come and go and this is a good thing.

I think this is a good advice.

To add on, for some of my projects I explicitly list out-of-scope areas in the README to give users a better idea on where the project boundaries lies.

This is especially true because the closer you are to limits, the more a reasonable and politely written request can look like a demanding screed from an asshole. It’s safer to assume good intentions than risk blowing up on some innocent person.

“This feature is a bit out of scope”(if applicable). “Our team, aka me, has limited time for this project, and I just don’t have the bandwidth. I can answer questions or possibly collaborate if you’d like to have a go at the code yourself though.”

“This is a personal/internal use project made available to the community as is, and adding features outside of what I need for my own company is not a priority. You’re welcome to submit a PR if you do get the feature implemented yourself though.”

(If applicable) “It does seem useful so I’ll leave this issue open in case someone else wants to implement it, but I don’t currently have a need for it”.

“If this feature is very critical, we can talk about some paid support options, but otherwise, free software is largely created by companies and individuals for their own needs, and we don’t have time for every feature request”

There’s another consequence to consider as well: even if a PR does materialize externally, do you want to sign up to maintain it in your codebase?

Exactly. Pull requests are not a golden ticket here – they still take (a lot of) time to review and maintain.

In my experience pull requests, particularly for (larger) features, can be net negative contributions. If the pull request is done poorly they can easily take more time to review, fix and maintain than it would have taken the maintainer to implement the feature in the first place.

> (If applicable) “It does seem useful so I’ll leave this issue open in case someone else wants to implement it, but I don’t currently have a need for it”.

Accompanied by something like a “WONTFIXMYSELF” tag?

Hi, sorry but this is simply not something I’m interested in implementing.

Further, please remember that GitHub maintainers do this for free, on their own time.


Anything more than that, block and move on. I’ve been on GH for 10 years or so and it’s gotten really bad in the last few regarding pushy dickheads like this.

You owe nothing to them, and if they can’t behave within the OSS ecosystem then they’re going to get blocked. Plain and simple.

In the past, I’ve simply responded to drive-by PRs with “No thank you :)” and closed them. Not common but sometimes people do stuff that makes no sense and you just can’t really say anything other than that.

As someone who makes lots of merge requests, please don’t add the further statement. In my experience while it’s well intentioned, it (understandably) frustrates contributors because it’s making an assumption that they aren’t valuing your time, which you don’t know.

Just my 2¢, at the end of the day do what feels best for you, but you may drive away some contributors.

Kindness first, always. Maintaining an OSS project will push your personal growth to a new limit.

– be direct: I do not wish to have that feature in the project.

– explain: the vision of the project is xyz. This feature you’re requesting does not fit in the vision because abc. I don’t think it belongs here as it will become a maint burden and a distraction from the goal.

– encouragement: if you do think you’d find value, i would encourage you to fork the code. I’d be willing to give you a few pointers on how to implement, but that’s the extent I’m willing to provide help for free.

– disengage: do not argue. Do not create personal attacks, and ignore any thrown your way. If they persist, link back to the original explanation so everything is in one place.

– be willing to be wrong. Sometimes people’s rudeness makes us respond with obstinacy. If you can calm the situation to a civil discussion, do consider their viewpoint and alleged benefits.

Hey, this is a situation I’m quite familiar with, both as the PR receiver, and observing PR interactions on other popular github repositories.

How you deal with it is very much down to how you want to engage, and your energy levels too. It can be anxiety inducing too because many of us want to avoid confrontation, and saying ‘no’ can be confrontational, but you need to remember that the other person is not in the same mindset as you.


You are perfectly entitled to completely ignore the request. Don’t comment any more, just stay silent for ages and ages. The issue can languish for years. If you want you can close it off after a long time. Even then you can close it without comment, or say you don’t plan on implementing anything here. You may not like this option as it feels like you’re running away, but I’ll also say that it’s something that happens across many repos for many years, both intentionally and unintentionally.

You can nip the issue (haha… get it?) in the bud. Be straightforward and say that you are not planning on implementing, maintaining and supporting that feature. Your time and energy are limited, and you don’t feel it’s a feature that you want added to your codebase. Close the issue with the comment. The reaction may be varied but it is important that you stick to this statement and not entertain further commenting, because each new line can sometimes be an ‘in’ to argue more.

You can take the most pacifist route which is to keep explaining, and refuting, that you don’t want to implement the feature. Most people are quite receptive to it and will actually understand, but it’s also possible you’ve encountered someone who is not able to understand your intention. This can be mentally draining as you’re speaking to someone of a different mindset, who views you in a certain way, and nothing can convince you otherwise.

But at no point is there any need to insult anyone. Keep in mind it’s your codebase, and you will be maintaining the feature going forward. If you do not respect your time, nobody will. Please respect your time OP.

This sounds like a problem you will face many times in the future and therefore you may benefit from finding a solution that will solve for both this request and all similar future requests.
For example, instead of writing any customised response, you could write a blog post / make a webpage that explains your approach to these types of request and then simply link to it in a reply. Then every time this comes up you can simply paste in “Thank you for your request. Please see [URL]”.

I find doing this type of thing (creating nice canned responses, creating reusable answers) nearly always pays off in the medium and long term and find that it’s much easier to put the effort into a response knowing that you’ll get long lived value from it vs it just being useful for one person.

Similarly, I often find others have done similar and if their thoughts align with mine I don’t need to write the answer myself but instead can refer to someone else’s blog post etc.

> simply paste in “Thank you for your request. Please see [URL]”.

I think this can make people feel like you don’t understand them and maybe make them angry. It feels like an automatic response you would post when you haven’t even read the request. I think you should at least clearly say that you don’t want the requested feature in the response, then you can link to the page.

Yes, a “no” is basically what I think was missing from that example response. Something clear that makes the requester feel like they got a response to their request.

> That sounds like a them problem.

Yes and it’s not nice to give people problems. It can even come back to you if they don’t feel like they got a clear response and continue to bother you.

I like to communicate in ways that are clear, honest and complete because that way people get the information they want and we can understand each other. I think the world would be a better place if everyone did that and therefore it’s what I recommend people to do.

You can just politely say no. That’s it, don’t feel obligated to do anything else (and for that matter, even this is optional).

I don’t recommend you say f off or be hostile, it’s not worth the trouble, be gracious and kind, but don’t be afraid to be firm and establish your boundaries.

If he keeps bugging you, simply ignore him or block him if needed. There are lots of entitled people on the internet, it’s up to you whether you ignore them, get upset or comply with their unreasonable demands.

Open source doesn’t mean free work, it also doesn’t mean you need to review other people’s PRs, and it doesn’t mean you need to merge someone’s pull request with an amazing feature.

Everything is optional and at any time you can say no.

> You can just politely say no.

To emphasize even more, you do not need to explain yourself at all, in any way. You may want provide your reasons / rationale, but you don’t have to (see other comments stating that as well).


Another answer I don’t recommend is “PR welcome”. Accepting some random person’s feature then getting it merged comes with lots of costs, from the one time cost of code reviews to the ongoing cost of maintaining the feature.

Only say “PR welcome” if it is really welcome.

> To emphasize even more, you do not need to explain yourself at all, in any way.

I would suggest that you should not explain yourself in any way. Chances are they would just view that as an open door to argue their point and they will try to use your words against you.

A polite no is still a no. Some people just need time to realize that.

I think you have those options on how to react to a feature request:

  1. Great idea, I/we will implement it  
  2. Great idea, Pull Request welcome!  
  3. Out of scope, won't be implemented (even if a pull-request is submitted), because ..., /close  
  4. Out of scope, (no explanation) /close

If you’re the single maintainer of a project, it’s easy. Write one sentence and just close the issue or pull request.

If you’re a team maintaining a project, you need to agree with the team on that, obviously.

But keep in mind: random Github users are just random Giuthub users, random people. Treat them with the respect they deserve. If they don’t deserve a lot, just close their issues.

I like this as a policy, might give a brief explanation why 4. You might link to a roadmap for example that makes it clear why the Issue isn’t being prioritized.

Consider applying the exponential back-off technique. Originally designed for firewalls, it works well with annoying people! (particularly Slack etc. with faster rates than below.)

This only really applies when you owe people an answer, so I’m not even sure this applies here. You could simply palm them off politely.

Here is how it works.

Silly request 1: respond within the hour

silly request 2: respond within a few hours

silly request 3: respond the next day

silly request 4: respond within a week

Stand your ground. No one can make you lose your cool or upset you, unless you let them. Politely decline every time and they’ll get the drift, slowly.

And if your product is open source, they can fork it and shovel it themselves.

You’ll become “the guy who doesn’t respond to GitHub issues” and that is going to backfire on you because commercial software, or other projects, or prosoective employers are going to be coming and saying “you see, this open-source software is not or poorly maintained”

I recommend on saying “Thanks for sharing the idea”

Once you have time to work on your project, then you create a new sprint based on a couple of ideas that you or users submitted.

The question of whether to implement the feature or not, is to be answered during product priotization while assessing potential engineering cost and impact of the feature.

Whether the user is annoying or not isn’t directly relevant, and if it is, it should be based on potential reputational risk under the impact score.

> You’ll become “the guy who doesn’t respond to GitHub issues” and that is going to backfire on you because commercial software or other projects are going to be coming and saying “you see, this open-source software is not maintained”

I fail to see how it would be a bad thing.

The truth is, you’ll have this for any kind of software you’re doing paid or otherwise. Learning how and when to say no is an important skill.

Usually I just tell people that something’s out of scope, or that if it’s in scope, it’s something on our radar, but not at the top of our priority list right now. If it’s the first time someone’s made that request, I’ll often note that.

If somebody gets pushy, just don’t reply.

But there’s also a decent usability rule: the first time users request something, they’re stupid. The third time users suggest something, you’re stupid. That’s obviously not hard-and-fast, but it is important to keep in mind that even if you think the users are wrong on something, at a certain point, if there are lots of them, they may be right.

Whether or not you care depends on the type of OSS project.

First, decide why you don’t want this: Is this a “patches welcome” situation where the change is good but not worth your time, or a change that would make the software worse/isn’t a good fit?

Then explain that politely but firmly, and don’t be afraid to explain that you’re a volunteer working on it, so you ultimately make the calls.

If the reporter becomes uncivil, close and lock the issue. If they start being disruptive/filing new issues, ban them.

(You could also offer paid support, but it seems like you already know that this person wouldn’t be a nice customer to work for.)

If you don’t see that the feature would fit your vision of the codebase then just tell them that.

If you think it is a useful feature tell him that you currently don’t have time to implement it yourself but a PR is welcome.

Often people only want that there issue is tracked, so to avoid conflict and just do nothing just tell them that it goes into the backlog of future features to be considered 😉

Just another point to consider: sometimes reviewing a PR and getting it up to your standards is significantly more work than doing it yourself.

If you don’t have time to implement it, there is a chance you don’t have time to review it.

If it is like that, you can simply say you don’t have the bandwidth to review, and/or you don’t want the feature in your repo. You can emphasize that they can always simply fork the project and do whatever they want with it.

“Thank you for your feature request. Submitting thoughtful requests like this takes time, and I appreciate the consideration put in to prepare it.

Unfortunately, the feature request does not align with the goals I’ve set for this project, and I will not be considering it or any related requests for the foreseeable future. Specifically, I intend to accomplish [your desired outcome of the project] and do not want to reach that goal using the methods you have described.

I sympathise if this is a dealbreaker for you. I have appreciated your patronage up til now, and understand if you need to seek alternative software solutions as a result.”

You can follow up with a more “direct” comment if they don’t get the message from the above. However this should suffice in most cases.

If it’s public facing I would suggest that you keep it in context and PR friendly and say something like:

“I am declining this as it is not fitting with the direction of the project and other users’ requirements. You are free to fork it and maintain your own version”

> You are free to fork it and maintain your own version

I’d leave that out. That’s unnecessary as it’s an implied freedom of oss, and it can come off as aggressive / dismissive.

> The main reason is, the requester behaves like I am hired to customise the software for him. And I should keep working until he is satisfied.

Just tell him your fee and that you’ll start for a 50% deposit.

This can come off as rude if you’re trying to make a collaborative project. I’d link to a roadmap or be honest and say this doesn’t pique your interest.

read: –> “Rejecting pull requests” by Tom MacWright

“…. Rejection is hard. There are a few key things you can communicate to soften the blow. Like many of the other things I recommend, the underlying strategy is that you need to be explicit about the positive and emotional parts of an encounter, not just the technical parts. It’s simple and easy to deliver a code review, but implicit in that review is the fact that someone took the time to contribute, and that should be recognized as well.”


Rejected pull requests aren’t a dead end, so don’t make them sound like the end. You should encourage everyone to contribute again, and present their options explicitly:

I’m going to close this pull request, but I hope you can contribute in the future! If you need this change, feel free to maintain a fork.

“Responding to feature requests

Once a project achieves a certain level of success, it will have users, and those users will have additional demands of the project in the form of feature requests. Experienced and empathetic users will state their feature requests precisely and kindly, but others will use an unfriendly tone or imprecise language that doesn’t lend itself to a solution.

– The maintainer does not owe their time to anyone

– The maintainer must treat everyone with respect

I think this where some bureaucracy would be in order. Have a list of rules somewhere for the project. Have a list of close reasons based on the rules. One of them will be “Feature Request Declined”. With the rule being “If you ask for a feature, we will consider it but we cannot guarantee to implement it, we may close it with Feature Request Declined because of time constraints, priorities or just that the maintainers need a life outside of doing this.”.

This might take the emotion out of it.

Just reply something like “This feature does not interest me, but patches are welcome!” and leave it at that.

This does not mean you actually will merge any PR for said future, should they ever materialize.

> This does not mean you actually will merge any PR for said future, should they ever materialize.

If you don’t intend to merge the feature, you should not say that patches are welcome, that’s an asshole move.

If you’re not sure, say that and that they can open a pr but you can’t make any promise.

If you’re not interested in the feature and are not willing to maintain it, say that as well.

I agree. I think this is what is missing from other responses. What is the problem?

1. This feature is deemed unwelcome and even the most beautiful patch would be rejected. AKA I don’t want to maintain it or the feature is actively harmful.

2. Unsure about this feature, but maybe a good patch would be accepted.

3. The feature is fine, but I have no interest in working on this. Patches are welcome.

I think valuable information to the other person 1. I guess they should go away or fork. 2. Maybe discuss more, maybe find a way to get a patch written. 3. Wait or find a way to submit a patch.

Many people also don’t appear to understand that code comes with an on-going maintenance cost. Even if someone else writes a PR, I may not want to be responsible for that code in future. It’s OK to just say no.

My responses fall into 3 broad categories:

1. I consider that to be out of scope for this project, but feel free to fork and add it yourself. (Translation: I think it’s a bad idea)

2. That’s a good idea, I will consider implementing it at some point in the future. In the mean time, PRs are welcome.

3. Sure, I’ll implement it now.

If for some reason they keep asking, I respond with something along the lines of “pay me, or go away” (but perhaps phrased more politely, depending on what mood I’m in).

Your point of view is very clear: it’s not a feature you’re interested in. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not a good feature for the person who has opened the issue.

Instead of convincing them that it’s a bad feature or talking about why it’s uninteresting to you, just point them to a and stop engaging with them after that. If they’re actually serious about the feature, they can implement it in their own fork (which then you can request as a PR if you want it in your repo).

If they won’t pay and you aren’t interested in building the feature I would bluntly state that.

“PR welcome but I will not be writing this personally. Closing for now”

the truth is, pr’s might not even be welcome and thats ok. Any code/feature added, even via someone elses PR becomes a maintenance burden on the maintainer.

Remind them they are welcome to fork the project to add what they would like.

I have to deal with that frequently and would say, it really depends what you want.

Do you think the issue is useful but you don’t want to implement it? Keep the feature request open and say you’re open to contributions (or maybe getting paid to implement it).

Do you think it’s out of scope and shouldn’t get implemented? Say that, close the issue and lock it if people keep discussing.

I can also recommend creating response templates for these things. Be clear and assertive, back and forth wastes everyones time and just leads to more frustration on both sides.

If you’d merge such a feature

– Close issue -> “Feel free to make an implementation and open a PR”.

If you’d not merge such a feature

– Close issue -> “Feel free to fork the project and have an alternate implementation”

I have a public roadmap, where people request new features all the time ( All of people’s features are in there, but some might indeed never happen.

When someone asks or requests, my response is: “Right now I’m working on higher priority things, but some day I might get to your request”. It satisfies them all the time, since they understand I’m still improving it, just not their thing.

When I was a consultant with better manners than I have now, this was the right response to the constant stream of scope increasing requests on fixed time or budget projects.

“That’s a great idea! I’m gonna write it down here as something for V2.”

Say it straight: ‘I will not add this feature’ or ‘I will only add it if you implement it’, whatever is the case for you. You could add: thanks for your suggestion or something like that.

That’s it. You may give a reason if you want, but don’t engage in argument. Just ghost or block them if they persist. Don’t have to fight or yell, just let the other deal with their own disappointment. If they misbehave on your project, ban them.

You don’t owe anybody anything.

wontfix, close, mute, block.

It is open source, they can always fork it, fix it and do the long term maintenance themslves.

Look at it like this – even big FAANG companies have bots that auto-close issues without discussion. You don’t have to feel bad about closing an issue and locking it.

Yeah maybe, I’ve had a few PRs closed by them with just “Not interested.” as an answer, after spending days chasing some bugs and fixing them. Until this day I don’t know why they were rejected, and have no idea what I did wrong / how I could have improved them.

They’re pretty rude / brash in communication, which is fine, but I wouldn’t look at them for an example of great OSS stewardship.

When I started with open source, I was hyped to get any feedback, bug reports, feature requests, and such, and I always tried to do my best to address these.

After 10+ years of maintaining popular projects (e.g., and going through thousands of tickets in the process, I mostly ignore the incoming issues and requests now. Is it a clear bug I didn’t know about – sure, I’ll take it up as soon as possible. Anything else – I’ll ignore it, don’t even respond anything, and the stalebot will close that ticket in 30 days unless something additional comes up (usually it does not).

No one pays me for it, so I find my responsibilities to end at the point where the software is maintained and works on every supported platform. If someone does not like that, they can always fork the project.

You are free to do whatever you want, but why not explain in your contributing guidelines that this is how you operate?… The text starts with:

“First, thank you for considering contributing to nodemailer! We welcome any type of contribution, not only code. You can help with

QA: file bug reports, the more details you can give the better (e.g. screenshots with the console open)”

It is completely is incongruent with what you have written here. Again, your project, your time, but this is almost tricking people into expecting something that they shouldn’t expect. Personally, I have no problem with maintainers using stale bots, but please tell me about it so I can avoid wasting my time on those projects.

Oh, good point, I should probably update it or remove it. That guide was last updated 5+ years ago, I didn’t even rember that it exists and haven’t been following it for years.

Is it a product made by employees of EmailEngine or how does it work ?

Intuitively I would find it super rude if commercial companies just ignore or send people away for open-source tooling that is directly used for their commercial product.

Like when there are Google APIs Python Client bugs and they don’t care and just say “no clue, ask someone else at Google”

Nodemailer is a project I started 11+ years ago with no backing. It gets millions of download every week and is used by hundreds of thousand of projects and developers around the world.

EmailEngine is a commercial project I started a year ago and now I use the Nodemailer’s homepage to drive traffic to it. Both are my solo projects, no one else is involved.


Your projects are so well done that they gave me the impression that EmailEngine was a VC-backed opportunistic/shark startup that had eaten an open-source project and enslaved its maintainer.

So that’s a big compliment I guess 🙂

The important part is to close the issue. How you do that depends on the nature of the request.

A #someday tag is a mollifying way of saying “Not on the roadmap, don’t hate it, not planning to ever look at this again”.

The advantage is: it’s not an open issue. Flogging a closed issue is widely understood to be antisocial behavior, and opening a variation on a closed issue is open-and-shut rude.

You can ban someone who does this as an ordinary matter of policy, no one will judge you negatively for it.

As long as it’s an ‘open issue’, a certain class of entitled developer will feel free to harass you about it.

My two cents:

I’m not really interested in adding this. We can discuss the feature further if you’re willing to fund it, or to implement and maintain it yourself for the foreseeable future.
Otherwise I’m considering the issue closed.

If you are not sure, get the person involved and see how it pans out. If the person requesting can be asked to “do some work” – diagrams, functional spec, mockups, etc, then it shows commitment. Most cases the user might not be interested, so then it fizzles out. If he/she is really passionate about it, it may turn into a good idea since someone is actually giving it proper attention.

There are people like that. They will keep riding you for as long as you keep responding in a polite and reasonable manner.

The tactic is to add progressively larger delays to each response, while make them shorter at the same time. Start with a delay of a couple of days and progress to weeks. This works and it’s very effective in discouraging this sort of behavior.

The same works with for new tickets, but you can just close them after a week. Optionally add something like “Dully noted, thanks”.

“This feature isn’t in my personal to-do list. Remember that this is free work on my part, not a contract between us two. If you wish to have this feature implemented anyway, my basic quote is X dollars per hour, and you will have to pay at least 100 hours upfront.”

If they don’t stop bothering you after that, just block them.

You may even want to tell them that their feature will be on a separate branch and any maintenance, including merges from the mainline code, will also be for a fee.

Also, if they want to see your reasoning why you don’t like the proposed feature, they will also have to pay up, because it costs you time to write that down.

The suggestions posted here (give a quote, say no, say you are not interested) are part of a larger, useful guideline:

Respond by specifying clearly what would be required for this feature to land in your code.

This can be money, this can be someone stepping up to do it and maintain it, this can be technical requirements under which you can see this go into your framework. Yes, users opening issues are demanding, but as a github repo owner you can ask for anything as well and put up barriers that the user needs to solve to see it happen. They may be motivated too.

Specifying clearly the problems and what is needed to overcome them leads the user to appreciate you more. It will sharpen your thinking on why exactly you are saying no. And sometimes you will be surprised by someone actually making you happy by meeting your requirements.

Sorry but I/we don’t have time for this feature, there is more urgent stuff that we need to work on. Also remember that we do this for free.
So either do it yourself and make a PR or pay someone to do it, but we won’t.
Have a great day”
close the discussion, if they reopen one, close it again until they get tired
is it that hard?

This response comes off as a bit rude and presumptuous b/c it sounds like you’re accusing the Issue creator of saying “you have to make this”. That’s not clear from the OP. It would depend on what they wrote exactly in the Issue.

In the opening post, it sounds like they’re pitching an idea to get on a roadmap. I would let them know where something like the suggestion lands on the roadmap or if it’s too far down to consider.

I wouldn’t shut down an Issue idea like this unless you want to let everyone know you’re not taking any suggestions.

I try to inform users as much as possible re our boundaries and how we prioritize feature requests within the Github issue template.

I think it helps, but it’s not bulletproof.

Thank you for developing something people think is worth using and for
being a nice enough person to feel awkward about disappointing
anyone. A charitable assumption is that the requester stumbled on to
github and has mistaken it for his computer vendor’s technical support
channel the way people used to do on AOL. I agree with everyone’s
advice and would suggest in addition only that you be explicit about
your wish list policy in your README. I have such a section in mine
but won’t post it here because it’s probably too snarky for a nice

I’ve often received positive feedback from software creators in the form of:

“Thanks we will consider it.” Or “Thanks we have passed this on to our developers”

I think that’s a great response without any obligation on either party. People that make a request just want to contribute to the succes of the project because they like it, in my experience.

There’s no reason to be upset 🙂 I understand it’s offensive, but trying to be neutral/detached, and “professional”, is IMO the best approach (also, for one’s health).

You don’t have resources for that (I presume), and clarify this is (IMO) the appropriate, neutral, answer; that’s all.

There is also another sneaky approach. You can add that you’re open to commercial support, and to contact you in private for the details. I think this is also understandable, but better be careful. This will surely put things in perspective to the user.

(background: I’m a maintaner myself, although I’ve never dealt with abusive users; I did make it very explicit though, when I didn’t have resources, and users were always understanding).

Would you accept it if they did offer a (high quality, fitting the project style etc.) PR?

If so, something I see a lot which I quite like is along those lines – not something the maintainers are interested in (or whatever) so unlikely to be implemented, however high quality PRs will be considered.

Probably you’re right, and they’ll never offer one. But if you’d genuinely consider and perhaps merge one if they did, I think this is a good outcome for everybody.

(Plus then you can leave the issue open which can be appeasing – and catch others requesting the same – just lock it if necessary as nothing further to discuss without a PR which can be discussed in its own comments.)

“I am not planning to implement this, but it sounds like a good idea, feel free to send a pull request”

additionally apply label “PR welcome” and/or close issue


“This feature is out of scope and not planned”

additionally close issue and optionally apply label “declined”

Ideally, you can also drop link to some documented project vision.


Other comments have good hints how you can try explaining things.


Note that on GitHub and any decent platform you can lock discussions and block people. Feel free to use this, you are not hired by them.

I’m no dev but let’s say that my job has a similar issue. The approach that I use focuses on being 1) truthful, 2) clear, 3) polite, 4) concise. In this specific order.

In other words: “Sorry, I’m not going to do this because [insert here the actual reason, not some lame excuse]”.

Past that, if that user keeps insisting, the user is being entitled and you should not bother yourself with entitled people.

Github could do well to help here. In LinkedIn for recruiters you have auto responses “I’m not interested” etc. Github could do something similar, possibly with a “mute this conversation” option. And if someone is getting muted a lot maybe it’s time to restrict that account or give them some kind of nudge towards improving their behaviour.

Maybe posting a guide to saying you’re not interested is a stronger statement than a button? For example, the guide could suggest creating a label that you use when something won’t be prioritised given present conditions. Or whatever is the direct-but-not-offensive way to reject a request.

I would say: “Feel free to open a PR with the proposed changes”.

Because if they want the thing that bad… come to the table with an example. Then you can still reject that. It’s not like you’re forced to add something to your code you don’t want. They can fork the code if they need that so desperately.

You can simply close the ticket without saying anything, you are not required to do anything if you don’t feel like it, and you should not feel bad about it.

Add a section to your README file, detailing your vision, the features you plan to implement and features you plan NOT to implement.

Say “no”, block said user. If he needs the software to do things that it currently doesn’t he can either fork the project or use something else altogether.

Draw up a quote ?

I mean it’s a bit glib but I’m serious.

This presumes you want to be paid. Many don’t because it means it’s not fun anymore. I’m in that camp.

Then comes the next issue:

I really don’t like this feature and then direction it will take my project, but this guy has spent hours and there isn’t anything technically wrong with the code so I cannot reject it for that reason.

Source: been there, done that, someone out there now hates my guts.

Right, so it’s much better to scope the change first – responding to the feature request with this. Either it’s out of scope or one can talk about what part of it would be in scope. Lots of projects have a policy of “talk to the devs before making big changes”.

I would usually indicate negatively on the feature request if I don’t believe it’s in scope.

I think this is a massive issue for both of you and I don’t know how we can resolve it.

Because it’s an issue for you because you don’t have time to work on it and you can’t always work for free.

But most people are on the other side. They work for a company and the company want them to use a package. But the package doesn’t work or doesn’t have the feature they need.

The can’t fix it or add the feature because their company don’t give them time to read thousand of line of code and fix the bug or even worse, they just don’t have the skill for it. What are they suppose to do ? Their company will put pressure on them and they are stuck so they ask you to fix the bug/add the feature.

In the head of the manager the library is “famous”, it is suppose to work and thousand of developer are using it. If it doesn’t work it’s because the company’s developer is bad. But it’s not his fault too. So everybody is in the same shit.

And it’s a very recurring situation. I’m an average python developer, yesterday my task was to add celery to our django project. Celery is an old and massive “famous” project. It is suppose to work. But what happened when you follow the tutorial ? The tutorial doesn’t work. What do I say to my manager ? Sorry the project sucks it doesn’t work. He will not understand me. I had to follow another tutorial made by someone else and their install guide was different from the official one, and it kinda works. “Kinda” because it didn’t work, to start Celery, celery needs to load the django settings. My django settings was using environment variable. It works for all of them except the django.SECRET_KEY. Why ? I have no idea, so I had to hardcoded the secret key in the settings which is not a good solution, but at least it works and I can progress on the feature I have to do.

What am I suppose to do ? Create an issue in celery asking for “please, can you fix your getting started because my company want me to use celery but it doesn’t work ? Can you create a tutorial for using celery beat with django because my company want me to use it and I don’t know how to do it ?”

Of course I didn’t create an issue because I know I will not have an answer and it’s always my fault because I can’t debug the library for hours to find a solution to the shitty tutorial who doesn’t work.

And that’s just the type of the iceberg, I use all my day to make it work and I didn’t manage to do it. I had to try different package, downgrade setuptools because one package wasn’t compatible etc. At the end of the day, my environment was fucked up, django didn’t even start anymore and I had to erase my environment and create a new one.

And that’s the day of every average developer (so not HN developers). We get angry because nothing work, our company put pressure on use, and at the end, we ask coldly on github for bug fix or feature.

Certainly this sounds like an issue for you and your company, but I don’t see why it is an issue for the project and its maintainers. Many companies enter into support contracts with vendors whose solutions they adopt to avoid this very problem. The solution seems simple to me, your company should seek a support contract with the vendor, and if that is not possible, find a different solution for which they can. It is unreasonable to expect anything, especially in a business sense, from anyone who you are not paying to support you.

Because this is an issue with 99% of the companies.

Don’t forget you are here on HN with HN developers. 99% of companies will never seek support contract with vendors. That’s the reality, developers have to deal with it and get over the struggle. Maintainer have to deal with it too because companies will never change (or at least not in the few months) and get over developers asking for help which have issues with their library.

Close issue. “Won’t fix”

Might as well ban some commenter from your project (not sure how Github manages this)

A lot of feature requests are done to gain clout anyway

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