Moving Open Source Project Mailing Lists to Stack Overflow

Joe Ferris

For several years, there have been two ways of getting in touch with us for feedback regarding our open source projects:

  • GitHub, for reporting bugs or submitting patches in the form of pull requests.
  • Mailing lists, for general discussion and questions, including ideas for new features.

However, over time, we’ve grown to feel as though the mailing lists are not pulling their weight.

For one, the mailing lists are very rarely used for actual discussion. They’re hardly ever used for feature requests, either. People mostly post to the mailing lists to ask for help with specific issues.

For another, very few people answer questions on the mailing lists. Few people think to subscribe to them until they have a problem themselves, so the number of people available to help out is limited.

As if that weren’t enough, we also have to moderate the mailing lists to prevent spam. Because they’re open to anybody to sign up and post to, they’re a tempting target to spammers.

Lastly, a giant in the field of online help has entered since we started supporting open source projects: Stack Overflow.

Since Stack Overflow became popular, more and more people have been submitting their questions there instead of to the mailing lists. Having GitHub issues, the mailing lists, and Stack Overflow means that we have three places we need to look when helping out. However, instead of seeing Stack Overflow as a problem, we see it as the solution: the community is larger, the infrastructure is better, and the questions and answers are there.

Therefore, we’re shutting down all our support mailing lists and pointing users to Stack Overflow instead.

We’re still there to help you

Stack Overflow is a great community, and we’re hoping to leverage their larger numbers to answer questions faster. However, that doesn’t mean we’ve abandoned you.

Just make sure to tag your question appropriately when posting it, and we’ll be notified. For example, if you tag your questions with “factory-bot,” you can bet that Josh Clayton or I will come running. We’re using Zapier to pipe new questions into our company Campfire chat, as well as individually subscribing to Stack Exchange filters for projects we maintain.

Which tags

Here’s a list of tags for our projects that you might want to subscribe to:

Where do I post this

With the mailing lists out of the picture and Stack Overflow part of our official plan, here’s what you should do if you need help or would like to contribute:

  • If you need help, use Stack Overflow.
  • If you found a bug, use GitHub issues.
  • If you have an idea, use GitHub issues.
  • If you’d like to ask a general question, use GitHub issues.
  • If you want to contribute, submit a pull request.

We’re looking forward to your questions on Stack Overflow. We’ll see you there!


Looking for FactoryGirl? The library was renamed in 2017. Project name history can be found here.