What is a "dead project"? This is a fantastic question that very few software developers have actually asked. The time it takes for most software projects to reach "dead project" status varies from person to person but the general consensus seems to be around one year. Projects as large as an operating system are given more time due to the increased complexity (roughly around 3 years between updates). If you are a seasoned software developer, then you've seen your fair share of dead projects and probably use several of them.
Software development sees a huge amount of churn. That churn stems from immature software developers bouncing from project to project to project and, in most cases, never going back. Those developers are only interesting in making new things. Maintenance of existing code is not on their priority list because maintaining code is not hip/cool. As a direct result of that attitude, there are millions of dead projects out there that will never again see updates.
In addition, software authors are irresponsible to their users and don't let them know that they are no longer interested in developing a specific project. Users of those projects are left high-and-dry, usually without an alternative until someone else "forks" the project or comes up with an alternative. Integrating alternatives is a waste of everyone's time.
The real problem is Copyright. The person who wrote the code owns the copyright to that code. Code ownership is a huge thing among software developers and many developers are defensive about their ownership of something they wrote. This is certainly a natural response since we like to be proud of our accomplishments. However, this is a wholly inappropriate response when other people are dependent upon your code and you won't take the time to update it on a semi-regular basis. Since you hold copyright to the code you write, the general view held by the industry is that no one can update the code of even the dead projects you leave behind. This presents a massive quandary that, as of this writing, no one has previously attempted to solve.
To solve the problem of dead projects, CubicleSoft requires all Barebones CMS Extension Publishing applicants to transfer Copyright, their ownership of the code, and all other rights to the code to CubicleSoft if there are no updates for 395 days. By transferring Copyright to CubicleSoft, it becomes possible for someone else to decide they want to maintain an extension. After reviewing their application and first update to the extension, CubicleSoft may, at its discretion, transfer Copyright and ownership to the applicant. This, of course, means that the original author can still return and potentially reclaim the rights to the code that they once had.
This approach also solves the problem of contacting an author. If the author changes contact information, ends up in the hospital for a really long time, or they die, then their code can live on in the hands of another capable developer.
Of course, some developers might say, "Well, my extension is super-stable and won't need any updates for the next three years." That might be a fair complaint except there is always the option of simply updating the copyright year. Note, however, that CubicleSoft may reject such updates if there is a feature that hasn't been implemented or a bug that hasn't been addressed. If you properly maintain your extension by addressing feature requests and bugs in a timely manner, then there will be no problems with updates.
If you have any questions about CubicleSoft policies, please use the forums.