Community Resources for Open Source Public Goods

This living document is designed to be an inspirational resource for open
source community leaders in international development and related fields. The
DIAL Open Source Center (OSC) provides expert consultation in all of these
areas; consider having your community apply as a member to unlock services and
benefit from our growing community of your peers. This list focuses on our most
frequently asked areas of concern, and should give you some ideas to consider
if you have not already done so. Contact us at with questions
about these or other topics!

License & IP issues

  1. If you’re interested in learning more about issues about which FLOSS licenses
    are best for your needs, contributor license agreements, compliance issues,
    trademark issues, etc., the legal & policy track at FOSDEM is the best gathering
    of experts in this area. The event brings 8000+ FLOSS people together for a
    weekend. Beginning of February in Brussels, and free of charge.

  2. Just after FOSDEM is Copyleft Conference 2020, a deeper one-day dive into
    copyleft licenses. DIAL believes that Copyleft (reciprocal) licenses should be
    the starting point and default choice for T4D projects, especially those that
    use public resources for development. The world’s foremost experts related to
    these types of licenses will be at this event.

Project management tools

  1. Large projects, or ones with multiple stakeholders, will quickly come to the
    realization they need a good project management platform. We recommend GitLab,
    which unlike GitHub, allows for maximum data portability, is open source and can
    be self-hosted, or can be hosted on the project team’s own infrastructure. They
    provide CI/CD software testing infrastructure, can host static web sites,
    provide issue trackers, support desk tools, track milestones, Kansan-style issue
    boards, etc. Open Source projects can get free-of-charge access to their paid
    service offerings; DIAL OSC can help your project get set up on GitLab.

  2. For documentation-heavy projects, we recommend ReadTheDocs, a service to host
    documentation web sites. Documentation lives in your GitLab (or other) Git
    repositories, and can be dynamically updated and hosted on their infrastructure.
    RTD makes it easy to deploy these documentation sites; DIAL OSC can help your
    project get set up.

Meetings & communication

  1. Documentation is one of the most overlooked investments in an open source
    project. The Write The Docs community is the largest community of tech
    documentarians; they communicate online and also have many local meetup groups.
    Check out for more details. Also consider the new
    Google Season of Docs program that is currently in its initial pilot. This
    program is designed to match experienced writers with open source projects in

  2. Discourse is still the winner when it comes to the best communication tools.
    It’s fully open source and getting your data in or out to the platform is easy.
    It can replace both classic asynchronous mailing lists, as well as in many cases
    synchronous real-time chat systems that don’t get a lot of heavy traffic. The
    project team also offers a hosting service to provide funds for development,
    with discounts for nonprofits, and a path to free hosting for open source
    projects. DIAL OSC has extensive experience setting up and running Discourse

  3. For real-time chat which is critical for projects that have many people
    working simultaneously on the project for a large part of their days, Matrix is
    the most interesting and promising chat platform. It’s also critical if you want
    to have real-time meetings that are inclusive of all people across geographies,
    physical abilities, technology access, etc. The system is federated, like
    e-mail, so you can run it across multiple servers, set up your own server, use
    someone else’s, etc. DIAL OSC can help you get Matrix set up for your project.

Measurement & analytics

  1. To understand how healthy your FLOSS community is, first you need to know
    what to measure. The best resource going is CHAOSS who have a huge working group
    to come up with “the list”. (YMMV!)

  2. Once you know what to measure, probably want an easy way to capture and watch
    the data over time. GrimoireLab is the best tool right now to automate a lot of
    this work, and DIAL OSC may be able to help you set it up, or for member
    projects may be able to access our shared instance.

  3. Measure at is another similar tool that
    looks promising. There are also a handful of other small open source tools you
    may find by searching, for more practical needs.

  4. DIAL is working on a project to bring community health analytics alongside
    other measurements & dimensions of successful T4D projects. For more
    information, contact Sherman Kong at DIAL or ask Michael Downey for a referral.

Human collaboration

  1. Your project will need a good set of documentation about its purpose,
    mission, and contribution policies. There are hundreds of examples out there; a
    search engine will let you find them. DIAL OSC knows which have worked best in
    which situations, and can help your project figure out the baselines and which
    are most relevant to your project, and what you may need to add.

  2. A code of conduct not only helps you when humans on your projects have a bug
    when it comes to collaboration, but also signals that your project is open to
    others’ contributions. It’s important to make sure you have ones that meet basic
    criteria. DIAL OSC recommends the Contributor Covenant as a good start for most

  3. If you’re trying to get new contributors to your project, be they freelance
    volunteers or consumers/implementers of your project, you need to make plans for
    how to orient those new contributors. DIAL OSC member project Public Lab has
    done an excellent job at this, growing their contributor base from 60 US-based
    people when starting with us, to over 600 global contributors. Check out their
    “First Timers Only” page for more information; DIAL OSC can help you implement
    these same (open source) tools for your project.

  4. Google Summer of Code is the best way for a project to prepare to work with
    newcomers. The program matches university students with 3-month summer (northern
    hemisphere) projects for an open source community, matched with a seasoned
    mentor. DIAL OSC can get your project on a fast track to participation and help
    prepare for a successful project, as well as to get your community in a more
    newcomer-friendly state. More info:

  5. Similar to GSoC, Outreachy extends the same model specifically to everyone
    (including non-students) who face systemic bias in getting work in tech fields.
    This can include geographic bias, gender, and other inequities. Project scope
    is extended beyond just coding (as GSoC) to areas like documentation, design,
    marketing, project management, and more. DIAL OSC is a top-level sponsor of the
    program and may be able to secure space for your community to participate in the
    mid-year or year-end rounds.

Extended Reading

Yes, real printed books are still popular and a great resource for open source
community leaders! Here are our top five:


This work, “Community Resources for Open Source Public Goods” is licensed under
the Creative Commons 4.0 International Attribution License (CC BY 4.0) by the
Digital Impact Alliance at the United Nations Foundation.