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I am a Tango for D adopter and appreciate it very much but I am very concerned with a threatening trend.

I noticed that many prominent early members leave it.

I perceive that as a strong vulnerability signal to the community because it's not outweighed by new entries.

I am looking for an appropriate idiomatic way to convey the fact that they abandon/leave/quit with emphasis on the threat that it involves (Something akin to the French: "Ils quittent/abandonnent le navire").

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4 Answers

The literal translation, and also an idiomatic one, would be "the rats are leaving the ship".

The Free Dictionary:

Rats abandon a sinking ship. and like rats abandoning a sinking ship
Prov. You can tell when something is about to fail because large numbers of people begin to leave it. (Can imply that the people who leave are "rats," that is, selfish and disloyal.)

Wiktionary:

like rats from a sinking ship
Adverb
(simile) Quickly but in futility, away from a failing project

Edit in response to comments: you can leave the rats out, if you wish. Just as you did in French. It's the exact same idiom from the exact same source and you can alter it in the exact same way for the exact same effect. "Ils quittent/abandonnent le navire" translates, word for word, to "They leave/abandon the ship". And it works in English (and many other languages) just as it does in French.

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Thank you for answering. I think selfishness and the like are off topic for my case, I rather perceive them as people who don't want anymore to fight a loosing battle. They have done so much for the community after all. –  menjaraz May 9 '12 at 8:47
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I like the saying, but rats aren't prominent members of a ship. –  Matt Эллен May 9 '12 at 9:01
    
Maybe you could invert it: "Like ships leaving their sinking rats" –  Matt Эллен May 9 '12 at 9:22
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Rats may not be prominent members of most ships, but I've always thought this saying carried with it the implication that the rats are the first to leave because they sense something is happening before the human passengers realize it. I think the selfish and disloyal connotation was a later add-on. I would keep the saying as is, because it makes sense that the early members of something might anticipate the endeavor was fruitless before later members. Their behavior then, similar to the instincts of the rats, is a sign to the perceptive. –  Callithumpian May 9 '12 at 13:57
    
The point is not that “rats” are leaving, it is that they are leaving in large numbers, barely noticed by the high mucky-mucks. –  choster May 9 '12 at 15:18
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Wherever there is a word for a leader or guide, you probably have an abandonment or disloyalty metaphor to fall back on, often with built-in implications of danger:

The captain has jumped ship.

The shepherds have left the sheep to the wolves.

The builders fled with the house half-done, and winter's coming.

With the farmers gone, the fields have gone to seed.

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You could say something like, "When the most experienced users quit, the Tango for D community will be a rudderless ship."

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Not sure if it's quite the right feel, but you could possibly say that the community is suffering a brain drain to emphasise the loss of high quality members?

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