For Good First Issue is a curated list of open source projects that are also digital public goods and need the help of developers.
We expect open source developers to drive the next wave of innovation on GitHub, including AI. GitHub’s vibrant networks of open source software require people and communities to keep them running. However, perceptions and expectations that open source projects can continue to provide widespread value without significant changes in funding support puts people and projects at risk.
We launched GitHub Accelerator this year to address some of these challenges and to create pathways toward viable careers or businesses in open source. After a successful first cohort, we are excited to announce that we will be opening applications for the next cohort of GitHub Accelerator in early 2024. Sign up to hear more in coming weeks here.
Our 20 projects from around the globe met multiple times a week in a cohort-based education program with expert guests to talk about open source funding paths and explore the needs of their individual projects. The builders used the time and $20,000 in funding to ship features, explore product direction, support co-maintainers and contributors, improve documentation, create ways to stay in touch with users, and more. These builders presented at our Demo Day to showcase their project and highlight where they were going.
Every journey was unique because every team was at different stages with different goals, or objectives. During and after the program, projects learned and iterated their business models, grew their user base, received funding, joined accelerators like Y Combinator, and launched products.
“Participating in the GitHub Accelerator gave us more attention and focus to close our preseed round and helped us launch our first product,” Johannes Dancker, Co-founder, Formbricks said. “During the session we learned a lot, both from the speakers as well as the other teams. Additionally, being recognized as a promising open source project by GitHub helped us gain visibility among customers and investors.”
Throughout the program, we received feedback on challenges of building open source projects. From managing and building communities, navigating sustainable business models, and evaluating funding with opportunities learned from licensing, governance and community building, there’s a lot of work to be done.
Some of the barriers open source projects encounter:
- Maintainer care: many projects are solo-maintainer managed. Managing competing priorities, stakeholders, and time constraints with limited resources leads to risk of maintainer burnout.
- Community perception: the expectation that maintainers work on their projects full-time, without a clear path to supporting themselves, can result in an untenable situation for maintainers. This results in burnout or unwanted hostility toward maintainers and lost labor towards projects.
- Measuring impact: for maintainers to find funding, they’re lacking ways to measure the impact of their software, find what companies are using it, and identify who to reach out to about sponsorships.
- Legal guidance: for projects tackling licensing, commercialization, or breaking new ground with open source machine learning, they need legal advice tailored to the intricacies of open source.
- Financial advice: information on the pros and cons of different funding paths are limited, and make it hard for maintainers to find the approach that fits their particular needs. Additionally, financial management, accounting, country-dependent reporting and tax requirements, and other complexities require industry-specific accounting experts for projects to be able to handle and dispense money.
- Technical support: managing workflow and alignment for features, bugs, and other requests against maintenance and security needs is a tough balance with limited resources
We are continuously creating and iterating on our programs to support open source builders. The GitHub Accelerator provided time and resources that are critical to helping maintainers decide what is next for their project. The GitHub Accelerator is also one of many programs GitHub offers—here are other programs we offer:
- Opensource.guide is a curated list of how to get started building and maintaining in open source.
- GitHub Sponsors provides opportunities to get sponsorships for your work and has enabled more than $33 million across +100 regions.
- GitHub Fund, in partnership with M12, is a $10 million venture capital fund that focuses investment on open source developer tools at their seed stage.
- GitHub for Startups helps your startup go from idea to IPO on the world’s largest and most advanced AI-powered developer platform.
- The Maintainer Community is a private space for open source maintainers to connect with peers, preview GitHub features, and help us support the open source community.
- GitHub Stars helps to recognize and lift up the individuals from the world’s largest open source community who inspire and educate.
- Github-ospo is a collection of tools, processes, and best practices that GitHub’s own Open Source Program Office (OSPO) team uses to help us manage our open source initiatives.
- The ReadME Project features the stories of the people behind open source. Peruse the ReadME Project’s library of articles and podcasts around project maintenance, including many interviews sharing the perspective of open source maintainers.
The work towards enabling a fully sustainable open source economy is not done. Let’s keep building.