I often get notifications on GitHub where someone comments “Any updates?” on an old issue thread. The answer is always “No”. Updates are in the issue.
An issue with no recent activity is a clear indication that either there is a lack of time or interest by the maintainers or the issue is blocked on something. Asking for updates on such issues will not do anything other than spamming everyone that are subscribed to the issue.
So what can you do?
Offering to help out is the best thing you could do. Even submitting some failing tests can be useful. The second best is to comment something that adds to the issue. For example, more information about a bug report, reproduction steps, a crash report, use-cases for a feature, ideas on how to implement a feature or bug fix, etc. If you just want to 👍🏻 an issue, use the reactions feature.
When is it ok to bump an issue?
When it looks like there was supposed to be some activity, but there weren’t. For example, if a maintainer says they will look into something and doesn’t, it’s ok to remind them. Or if you submit a pull request, the maintainer reviews it, you resolve the review comments, and then you never hear back, it’s ok to bump.
Please keep in mind that open source is just a hobby for most maintainers and they are often overloaded with notifications. If you’re going to create a notification in someone's inbox, make it worth it.
The post was inspired by this tweet.