Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2023


What I learned about leading a healthy project from speaking to 50+ maintainers

For many (many) months, in semi-regular intervals, I've been one of the organizers of - a livestreamed fireside chat on open source licensing, funding, mental health and neurodiversity in open source, and driving different communities forward... differently.

A 2021 Tidelift survey of 400 open source maintainers found that 46% of maintainers are not paid at all, and only 26% earn more than $1,000 per year for maintenance work. Over half (59%) have quit or considered quitting maintaining a project, and almost half of respondents listed lack of financial compensation as their top reason for disliking being a maintainer.

Beyond the projects maintained by the proverbial single individual in Nebraska in their free time narrative, there are other reasons for projects "going bad". I'd like to share some stories, straight from the horse's mouth, share some of the give-aways of unhealthy projects, and together find ways for mitigation.