darcs: a study in communication failure

The darcs revision control system has all but lost out to git within the past few months. A rather large part of the reason is a rushed and very poorly worded release announcement, following a rather long (I'm told 4 years; I haven't been aware of it that long, which itself is perhaps ominous) post-1.0 silence from the darcs developers: (emphasis mine)Darcs 2.0.0 contains some performance regressions when running with large
repositories. It is possible that these regressions will be sufficient to
prevent its effective use in some projects. If this describes your
project--and the only way to know is to try it--then I recommend
considering either switching to a different revision control system, or
helping us to improve darcs. The former is certainly the easier path.
If
I knew how to easily make darcs dramatically faster, I would have done so.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR DARCS
(...)
Unfortunately, it is also a rather labor-intensive process, and due to a
lack of contributors, we've moving to a more streamlined process. Starting
with the darcs 2.0.0 release, there will be just one central branch of
darcs and only one maintainer: for now this is me, David Roundy. Moreover,
I will be attempting to act as a much lower-profile maintainer than we've
had previously. I will not be reading bug reports, reading the darcs-users
email list or even the darcs-devel mailing list. I will only be reviewing
patches that are contributed. I will not write up long user-friendly
release announcements like this for future darcs releases. I will only be
reviewing and applying contributed patches.
A great many readers of this concluded that darcs was going into maintenance-only mode, and that 2.0 was the final release and was being released with known bugs just to tie off loose ends and set it where someone else might adopt the project; the subsequent lack of visible news from the darcs camp seemed to confirm it.

And darcs users began bailing out to the closest existing alternatives: git and mercurial.

The truth of the matter is only now becoming clear:Lately, darcs has suffered a setback: the GHC team has decided that it
is now time to switch to a different system, like git or Mercurial.
This is probably a good thing for GHC and for us. By the way, good
luck to them, and thanks for everything! (better GHC == better darcs)

But where is darcs going? For now, we are going to have to focus on
what we do best, providing precision merging and a consistent user
interface for small-to-medium sized projects. I want more, though! I
want to see darcs 2.1 come out next year, performance enhanced out the
wazoo, and running great on Windows. And I want to see Future Darcs,
the universal revision control system, seamlessly integrating with
everybody else.

Which was the first evidence many of us had that darcs was still a going concern.

At this point, it's not clear whether the darcs project can be rescued; it lost a lot of mindshare compared to the heady 1.0 days, to the point where it may already be a footnote. This is unfortunate, since darcs 2 has quite a lot of potential that will likely never be in the mainstream, even if it is realized. And poor wording and serious miscommunication were the final nails in its coffin, as lack of communication was its base.