Introducing a program to sustain and encourage contributors in the open source community

Open Source merely depends upon the contributions and volunteering work. So communities find hard to hold their contributors sustain with the community and keep them encouraged of their work but somehow they likely lose some of their potential contributors in their communities. This is the major problem I could see communities have been suffering to help their contributors sustain with the community. My experience denotes that most of the contributors ( be it the designer, developer, Tester, etc ) are either college students or young contributors. So their main motive remains to learn, work, and grow.

So some recognition given to them is the great key to help them sustain with the community. Recognition can be like building some “program” with combining some of the recognized organizations/communities who are working great in the field of open source like, Google, Microsoft, GitHub, etc and helping contributors give appreciation/LOR letters which can be used by them to be motivated and grow more. Other factors can be funding support. Some bounty programs can also help them be encouraged and self-motivated to sustain with the community.

Here is the example; Google Open Source Peer Bonus Program can be a great inspiration for this program. So the program I initiated above can be built up by dividing into various parts like:

  • Stage 1: Giving contributors LOR/appreciation letters based on some contribution and some kind of targets.
  • Stage 2: Supporting them with bounty programs
  • Stage 3: inviting/Giving away scholarships to them to speak at conferences, events, and meetups to speak about their projects or contributions
  • Stage 4: Asking them to lead projects

These things can be represented and worked out by having a common platform with better UX and information regarding this project.

I am sure it can be a bit time taking but can be fruitful in open source sustainable environment. Feel free to share your views.


It might be more impactful to just partner with these established programs. That’s my view. =)

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Well, I think this is just top on the cherry thing which can be a good instance for beginning with this project. The project/program I proposed above stands out bit different from Google Peer bonus program. I am happy to setup the detailed proposal, if needed.

Proposals are meh. Just do it. Get it to a point where you have no other options but to ask for help. You just need to own it and make it happen. You can do this :muscle:


Awesome. I would be working on drafting this proposal then including research.

I am still open up to hear voices for this topic in order to make it move in a right direction. Thanks

I like the idea to better encourage sustainable benefits for open source contribution. I recognize there are different challenges to facilitate open source volunteer work outside of North America / Europe. Let’s see if we can build a community around this idea. :slightly_smiling_face:

I like the idea of documenting inter-organizational best practices on recognizing and incentivizing OSS contributions. This would be a practical and useful thing to standardize best practices.

I’m glad you pointed this out! While students and young folks do use a lot of open source, they are not the only demographic included. I thought it was worth pointing out that how we might appeal to different groups or audiences (like young students) will inform what approach makes the most sense here.

So, it might be good to decide: who is the target audience of the program you present here? Or, who is a beneficiary of this program?

Just thinking aloud: there is a Maintainer Health working group from 2018, but it looks like it has not gone anywhere:

I wonder if this would be a good conversation to facilitate there, if focused at the individual volunteer contributor level.


Hi @jwf ! Thanks for adding your views here, so how do you want it to begin?

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Are you interested in being a bottom liner for this topic?

Right now, bottom-lining could mean one of two things:

  1. Facilitate a fixed number of conversations / discussion groups / video calls on the topic with a definite end
  2. Participate as a long-term steward of this Working Group with an indefinite end

If you are interested in bottom-lining, I can polish up the Maintainer Health category to something like Sustainable Contributions or Sustainable Volunteering. Open to suggestions.

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Sure, Let me know whatever the best way work out but I am.more interested in executing this plan so that it could actually benefit contributors and open source communities.

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THREAD MOVED: Technology & Open Source :arrow_right: Volunteer Health

Great. I retrofitted the Maintainer Health Working Group into Volunteer Health:

Feel free to use this category to share a proposal. When you are ready, either me, @jdorfman, or @RichardLitt can give you a signal boost on Twitter and Slack. :+1:

Let us know how we can support.


Sure, thanks. I will get back soon

I just want to say thanks to @jwf in particular for outlining how a bottom liner works so well, and helping to clarify this moving forward!

@jaskirat I’m glad you’re undertaking this work, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it shapes up.

I think the LOR letters program might make sense if these can be used to help applicants apply for jobs or for promotions. In particular, laying out an easy pathway for contributors to becoming maintainers is important, and the LOR can be part of this.

On the funding and bounty side, I think that the issue with OSS projects is often a lack of funds, not a lack of contributors. I’m not sure how I would go about encouraging bounty programs, which may actually disincentivize long-term engagement by putting a price-tag on participation.

Asking contributors to lead is also a thorny topic: are they able to lead? Would they step up without being asked? How can this process be formalized?

Lots to discuss here.

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