Policy for Abandoned Projects

This policy describes the process by which a Read the Docs project name may be changed.


Conflict between the current use of the name and a different suggested use of the same name occasionally arise. This document aims to provide general guidelines for solving the most typical cases of such conflicts.


The main idea behind this policy is that Read the Docs serves the community. Every user is invited to upload content under the Terms of Use, understanding that it is at the sole risk of the user.

While Read the Docs is not a backup service, the core team of Read the Docs does their best to keep that content accessible indefinitely in its published form. However, in certain edge cases the greater community’s needs might outweigh the individual’s expectation of ownership of a project name.

The use cases covered by this policy are:

Abandoned projects
Renaming a project so that the original project name can be used by a different project
Active projects
Resolving disputes over a name



The user of Read the Docs is solely responsible for being reachable by the core team for matters concerning projects that the user owns. In every case where contacting the user is necessary, the core team will try to do so at least three times, using the following means of contact:

  • E-mail address on file in the user’s profile
  • E-mail addresses found in the given project’s documentation
  • E-mail address on the project’s home page

The core team will stop trying to reach the user after six weeks and the user will be considered unreachable.

Abandoned projects

A project is considered abandoned when ALL of the following are met:

  • Owner is unreachable (see Reachability)
  • The project has no proper documentation being served (no successful builds) or does not have any releases within the past twelve months
  • No activity from the owner on the project’s home page (or no home page found).

All other projects are considered active.

Renaming of an abandoned project

Projects are never renamed solely on the basis of abandonment.

An abandoned project can be renamed (by appending -abandoned and a uniquifying integer if needed) for purposes of reusing the name when ALL of the following are met:

  • The project has been determined abandoned by the rules described above
  • The candidate is able to demonstrate their own failed attempts to contact the existing owner
  • The candidate is able to demonstrate that the project suggested to reuse the name already exists and meets notability requirements
  • The candidate is able to demonstrate why a fork under a different name is not an acceptable workaround
  • The project has fewer than 100 monthly pageviews
  • The core team does not have any additional reservations.

Name conflict resolution for active projects

The core team of Read the Docs are not arbiters in disputes around active projects. The core team recommends users to get in touch with each other and solve the issue by respectful communication.

Prior art

The Python Package Index (PyPI) policy for claiming abandoned packages (PEP-0541) heavily influenced this policy.