Personas on Sustainability

Status: Incubating
Bottom liner: Jacob Redding
How to get involved: See section below.


To identify the different personas within Open Source. Who are the consumers, producers, providers, sponsors, or fill in the blank of Open Source? What are the sustaining efforts for each of these members of the ecosystem?


  1. Identify attributes of what sustainability means to us
  2. Determine the personas

Guiding questions

To help guide the conversation to our goal of identifying key personas within an open source project we asked ourselves the following questions:

  1. What are the various attributes of a well maintained open source project?

    This was one of the first questions we asked ourselves and worked to identify both attributes and anti-patterns (items that threatened the attribute of sustainability). The list below was just a small part of a short brainstorming session and is not comprehensive - it’s the result of a handful of dedicated folks coming together for a few minutes.

    A few of the attributes we defined include:

    Attribute anti-pattern
    quantity/group (redundancy) Burnout
    growth pathway Lack of counsel (legal or organization)
    Succession planning lack of recruiting/marketing/onboarding
    mentoring/training economy
    Good Docs Regulation
    resources (time/talent/treasure, fit into society, alignment with use cases, alignment with scale lack of tooling

  2. What does sustainability mean for a single project vs. and entire ecosystem?
  3. How do resources get into open source (time, talent, treasure)?
  4. Does it fit into society?
  5. What stage is it in?
  6. How is it used?
  7. What are anti-attributes or things that impede sustainability?

    • Burnout
    • lack of users
    • lack of legal council/organizational support
    • world economics
    • regulation (export laws, legal restrictions)

Reports and documents

Who are the personas?

Persona Description Sustainability attributes
Developers writing code No burnt out, succession plan for replacement
Advisors in-house legal, lawyers  
Enablers CTOs, CFOs, VCs, funders, mid-mgmt  
OSS Community contributors, FTE contributors, community managers, event planners, maintainers, mentors, reviewers, hobbyists, developers, reviewers  
Direction setters BDFL, Product Lead, innovators, OEMs  
Community agnostic end users, corporate users, career devs, governments  
  End Users Community Members Enablers Direction Setters
Examples Corporate Users, Career Developers (non-OSS contributors), Governments, Academics Contributors, reviewers, organizers, core devs, hobbyists, writers, documentarians, designers, and more CTOS, VCs, Funders Foundations, Product Owner, Project owner (BDFL), Innovators
Definition Software users potentially unaware of OSS Very aware of OSS & involved Money, time, Time/talent/treasure Risk taker, Thinkers/tinkerers
Sustainability attributes Marketing, functionality, great products, SaaS, Product Sales, Service Sales GSOC/Hacktober, Outreach, camps/confs, employment agreements (contracts), Gitcoin, Open collective Risk/Reward ($$$), results/metrics, cost savings (time/money) Risk/Reward, freedom of time, creativity, challenge to solve

When people talk about sustainability outside of OSS, it’s often called a business model. There are different levels of sustainability based on the scale of the ecosystem in question.


How to get involved

Currently this group is not meeting regularly to update the personas, but we would all be delighted to collaborate further on this topic. If this is of interest to you, feel free to reach out to me (Jacob Redding) and I will help to coordinate how to bring your thoughts and ideas to life in this area.