Sustain Weekly - April Summary

Every other Friday, we host a weekly call to document, share, and respond to current events in open source sustainability.

We hope you can join our next call TOMORROW, Friday May 6 at 16:00 UTC (12pm ET / 5pm BST). Here is a summary of our April calls. April was the first month we had public calls. Thank you to the many contributors who helped put this together :raised_hands:

April 1, 2022

Every other day, there’s a new npm breach, threat, or attack. Rather than treat symptoms, this is an opportunity to approach the problem on a larger scale. We’re seeing maintainers leverage power via their packages to exercise their voice and raise issues. Would this happen if maintainers felt supported and connected to the users? While we can’t expect people to just “do the right thing”, can we leverage current events to create better connections in open source? Some ideas:

  • Host a workshop to help open source communities learn from systems like solidarity economies.
  • Build a template to help maintainers talk to users as a way of improving morale, connectedness, and possible funding.

While there’s no shame in volunteering, we often see contributors exploited and mistreated (especially in industries like gaming). Some ideas to help prevent exploitation:

Also reading: this discussion on liquidity farming and FOSS.

April 8, 2022

A recent twitter thread highlighted struggles in the Kubernetes community – contributors working at FAANG companies are having trouble showing the impact of their open source work to justify promotions. Some of us thought it was worthwhile to consider ways we could in a way that FAANG thinks about impact – a resource like this could also help smaller companies justify open source work to clients. It’s hard to quantify the value of OSS when you can’t draw a direct line to revenue! Some ideas:

  • Can we get promo packet examples? Maybe we can make a workshop for FAANG employees on how we can make these better?
  • And what about providing ways of supporting and showing the worth of individuals and open source projects outside of FAANG?

A tweet from @andrestaltz sparked a discussion on monetizing issues in open source. While this is a complex topic (we discussed IP, bug bounties, non-code contributions, and more!), we did surface a few ideas:

  • Make the process easy to monetize issues. Sustain can provide text / templates for maintainers to post on an issue saying “I’ll fix this issue for $X. Here’s a link to OC/Stripe/Sponsors”. Ask for feedback on the process.
  • Encourage developers to spend a day jumping into a new project.

This week we saw several open source leaders move around: Deb Nicholson from OSI to PSF; Nithya Ruff from Comcast to AWS; Guy Martin from OASIS to NVidia. The Google Summer of Code 2022 program was announced. Sidekiq turned 10.

April 22, 2022

News that Grafana Labs has reached a fork in the road led to a discussion on company-led open source software and forks. When corporations are involved, forks seems to be a common way to mitigate potential license issues. Is this an open source archetype we can learn from and better understand? An idea for a future podcast episode!

The DMCA takedown of the SymPy documentation website has us thinking of ways to help smaller projects in the face of a DMCA takedown. Could we provide resources for small projects that can’t afford a lawyer?

Also this week, Digital Ocean’s annual survey asks open source questions. Last year’s results had some interesting insights – take a look and let us know what you think! Speaking of surveys, we also saw this small survey on OSS monetization.



Apr 1: Abby Cabunoc Mayes, Richard Littauer, Eric Berry @jdorfman @tobie @anthonyronda @epicfaace @LawrenceHecht. Apr 8: Abby Cabunoc Mayes, Richard Littauer @dachary @brownie @gunner @LawrenceHecht @Ibiam @Anita_Ihuman. Apr 22: Abby Cabunoc Mayes, Richard Littauer @LawrenceHecht @Ibiam