Tips for being "discoverable" to new contributors?

Hi All,

I work on ODK-X an open source project for data collection in remote environments. We were a sub-org of DIAL during GSoC this summer (and previous summers under the broader ODK banner). Internship programs like GSoC and Outreachy are our main ways of attracting new developer contributors, and as this GSoC wraps up, I was wondering if any other orgs have suggestions for other ways to attract new developer contributors?

We were previously housed in a university, and many of our developer contributors were students, some of whom stuck around (myself included). Since spinning out we’ve mostly relied on internship programs and word of mouth for attracting new developer contributors, but these don’t bring very many people. Our users are generally non-technical data collectors working in NGOs. This means we do get a fair amount of users who convert to contribute in other ways, there aren’t many developers that come through this path. And similarly not many developers know about us, and frankly it there is a bit of a learning curve to understand our domain (expecting no internet, old phones, etc).

We’ve had at least one or two people show up after they noticed us featured on Github, though I think that its just a random list.

Does anyone else have strategies they use they’d like to share?

“Marketing” for open source projects has historically been a big challenge!

Many folks have said that one of the benefits of hosting a project on GitHub is discoverability and more contributors, but I haven’t necessarily found that to outweigh other non-proprietary platforms.

On the other hand, one thing that does seem to have some effect, especially over time, is building a catalog of articles and stories about one’s project and how they are used. These can take many forms: blog posts on 3rd party web sites that cover open source or thematic areas that are relevant to your project, podcasts (tons of these now focus on open source and the number continues to grow!), YouTube videos with good “SEO” keywords to make them findable, regular social media posts that capture peoples’ interest via relevant hashtags, etc.

One source that is always looking for articles about compelling open source projects is Writing up articles that introduce people to a project, its history, and (importantly!) call for specific types of volunteers can pay off both in the short term when the article is fresh, but also as people do searches for content that is covered in the article.

What other sources have people tried? Has anyone found good contributor leads via podcasts or videos? Presence at conferences (talks, booths, etc.) or other events?

Thanks for starting the conversation @jeff.beorse – I’m eager to learn from others too!