Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2023


Contributor Growth Strategies for OSS Projects

Many projects struggle to find people who will actively participate in their projects and continue to participate over the long term. We are in a situation now where there are a lot of open source projects and not enough contributors. Maintainers are burning out and in desperate need for help. This session will provide practical advice and suggestions for ways to encourage participation while avoiding some common barriers that prevent people from contributing.

Maintaining an open source project is hard work that often extends out over several years, and maintainer burnout is common within open source projects. It can be hard for already overworked maintainers to balance the day to day work required to keep the project running while also investing in additional activity to increase future community sustainability. This includes getting help with all of the different types of contributions required to make an open source project successful: documentation, marketing, community management, and so much more. The good news is that we have best practices, resources, guides, and templates available to make it easier for maintainers and projects to build a contributor strategy that leads to a strong and growing community for an open source project over the long term. This talk will help you apply those resources in your project.

This talk will have several major sections. 1) Discussion about the major factors that impact contributor growth. 2) Developing and executing on a long-term contributor growth strategy, including governance, new contributor onboarding, and mentoring. 3) Using contributor ladders to promote contributors into leadership positions as more maintainers to share the workload can reduce maintainer burnout over time. 4) Metrics for measuring project sustainability.

The audience will walk away with a better understanding of how to grow their contributor base and build a community around their open source project.


Photo of Dawn Foster Dawn Foster