[Warning - In order to have an update view of the data, please check the reply to this post. That reply also contains a clarification in some of the initial numbers. This post is left as it is for tracking purposes.]
The Bus Factor is “a measurement of the risk resulting from information and capabilities not being shared among team members”. Open source communities are a great place for collaboration and its in the roots of any of them. This brief post will analyze this risk-related factor for the existing set of projects analyzed so far at the OSCAaaS (OSC Analytics-as-a-Service).
Last year we had the opportunity to run an ecosystem analysis of these four projects and work at different levels. These are activity, community, and process. The Bus Factor is under the Organizational Diversity, and this belongs to the community layer. The following are the numbers on the 21st of November 2019 and for a year.
While the following ones were retrieved today for the last year using the OSCaaS Dashboard. There is certain overlapping time, but this helps to see the evolution of these numbers.
There is a clear concentration of activity in the 4 projects. In this case the Bus Factor is defined as the number of contributors producing up to 50% of the total number of commits. If we have in mind this definition, this indicates that 50% of the total commit activity is done nowadays by less developers than some months ago.
The less people producing this 50% of the commit activity, the higher the risk that the project may face certain sustainability difficulties if a developer decides to leave the community.
However, how is this ecosystem performing if compared to others? For this, we run another analysis to bring more context to the discussion. Wikimedia Foundation, OPNFV, GitLab, and Kata Containers were selected as part of this. There are huge projects as Wikimedia and smaller ones as Kata Containers.
We can see how depending on the project, numbers are much higher as in GitLab, or much smaller as in OPNFV with a Bus Factor of 1.
If a community shows a high concentration of development activity in a few hands, this may mean different things. Other parameters are needed as for instance developers commitment, the size of the community and number of repositories, or even the development velocity. What is important is to follow the progress in this case of the KPI. Numbers are decreasing, but given the size of the projects, the risk seems to be under control.
Remember, if you are interested in running similar analysis for your project and you want your project to be part of further analysis, please reply to this post and let us know! On the other hand, if you are part of the team developing any of the projects here represented, it would be good to know about your thoughts on why this evolution and how this may affect the sustainability of the project.