Attracting and Retaining OSS contributors with a Maintainer Dashboard

Tools and artifacts produced by open source software (OSS) have been woven into the foundation of the technology industry. To keep this foundation intact, the open source community needs to actively invest in sustainable approaches to bring in new contributors and nurture existing ones. We take a first step at this by collaboratively designing a maintainer dashboard that provides recommendations on how to attract and retain open source contributors. For example, by highlighting project goals (e.g., a social good cause) to attract diverse contributors and mechanisms to acknowledge (e.g., a “rising contributor” badge) existing contributors. Next, we conduct a project-specific evaluation with maintainers to better understand use cases in which this tool will be most helpful at supporting their plans for growth. From analyzing feedback, we find recommendations to be useful at signaling projects as welcoming and providing gentle nudges for maintainers to proactively recognize emerging contributors. However, there are complexities to consider when designing recommendations such as the project current development state (e.g., deadlines, milestones, refactoring) and governance model. Finally, we distill our findings to share what the future of recommendations in open source looks like and how to make these recommendations most meaningful over time.

[ICSE 22] Attracting and Retaining OSS Contributors with a Maintainer Dashboard

Mariam Guizani presents paper published at ICSE SEIS 2022 Contact Info can be found at