Pour Positive Energy into GitHub Issues

Yihui Xie 2018-06-04

GitHub issues often make me nervous. Like emails, they are pretty much a TODO list made by others for me, and the items on the list keep growing. That said, sometimes GitHub issues could also be very amusing or inspiring. Last year, Miles McBain posted an issue to my tinytex repo, which only said “THIS IS AMAZING”. Of course, I loved this “issue”. I’m excited when other people feel the excitement as I did when I worked on a project.

A few days ago, I heard about the slidex package on Twitter (to convert PowerPoint to xaringan slides), but didn’t have time to look into it until today. After briefly reading its source code, it precisely reminded of Miles’s issue, so I also posted an “issue” titled “This is amazing”. It indeed is. I have never thought about reading PowerPoint as XML and converting the content to Markdown.

I always believe in the super power of encouragement. I knew people would love positive energy, but I was still surprised by the Twitter thread that Daniel Anderson started about the GitHub issue I posted. I was surprised in two aspects:

  1. I think it got the largest number of likes among all tweets that ever involved me. It is great to see this many people appreciated the appreciation.

  2. While I certainly enjoyed all GIF bombs in the thread (there was also a funny one in a sub-thread), I felt excited again when Adam Gruer asked if it was possible to bring the changes in Word/PowerPoint back to the original Markdown document. I think that is the biggest challenge in convincing Office users of R Markdown (currently it is pretty much a one-way process going from R Markdown to Office only). Let’s see what Daniel could come up with in the future.

Of course, there is no point of just blindly saying good words. That doesn’t count as encouragement. The more specific your praise is, the more effective the encouragement will be, especially when you happen to point out the one thing that also excites the person you intend to encourage most.