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Occasional Contributors

Question: How do we understand the number of occasional contributors and the contributions that they make?


Occasional contributors are people who make contributions to a project on an irregular basis. Occasional contributors are important to recognize in a community as their contributions can serve to advance the project in meaningful ways. One precise definition of an occasional contributor is “someone who hasn’t submitted a pull request in at least 3 months and hasn’t had more than 12 pull requests overall in the project” [1].

There are several reasons for being an occasional contributor including:

  • A person has a bug they need fixed
  • A person works for a company and the company requires a fix or feature.
  • A person needs to get their project to run on specific hardware
  • A person is fixing a typo.
  • A person is participating in a time-boxed event for a specific purpose or goal.
  • A person may have intended to stick around, but decided that the community or project was not a good fit for them.
  • A person may have intended to stick around, but may have experienced a life event that limited their participation in open source.


Monitoring occasional contributors can help to understand if:

  • More people are looking at the project
  • More people are using the project
  • More people are contributing to the project
  • Increases in community contributions in connection with specific events
  • The contribution and onboarding process is working well
  • There is an imbalance in diversity between sustained and occasional contributors
  • A community is welcoming to diverse contributors


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  • Minimum number of contributions before someone is no longer an occasional contributor
  • Maximum length of time between contributions before someone is no longer considered an occasional contributor
  • Percentage of overall contributors who are classified as occasional contributors
  • Repeat occasional contributors


Occasional Contributors Augur

From Augur, Endpoint Augur API Documentation:

Occasional Contributors Cauldron


Tools Providing the Metric



  • Matt Germonprez
  • Regina Nkemchor Adejo
  • Dawn Foster
  • Kevin Lumbard
  • Vinod Ahuja

This metric was last reviewed on August, 2022

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