Question: How are short timeframes of intense activity, followed by a corresponding return to a typical pattern of activity, observed in a project?


There are a number of reasons that may prompt a sudden increase or decrease in the amount of activity within a repository. These increases and decreases appear both as a sudden change in activity against the average amount of activity. Burstiness is a way of understanding the cycle of activity in existing metrics, like issues, merge requests, mailing lists, commits, or comments. Examples of root causes for bursts in activity include:

  • Release cycles
  • Global pandemics
  • Hackathon activities
  • Mentorship programs
  • Conferences, meetups, and other events where tools are presented
  • Conventional and social media announcements and mentions
  • Critical bugs as raising awareness and getting people’s attention
  • Community design meetings or brainstorming meetings to address a particular issue
  • Community members show up from another community that is relying on your project (e.g., dependencies)


  • To identify impacts of root causes of a burst in activity
  • To provide awareness when project activity unknowingly goes up
  • To help capture the meaningfulness of increases or decreases in project activity
  • To help the community and maintainers prepare for future bursts that follow a pattern
  • To help measure the impact of influential external activities
  • To differentiate skewed activity versus normal activity



  • Stars
  • Forks
  • Issues or bug reports
  • Labels
  • Downloads
  • Release Tags
  • Change Requests
  • Mail List Traffic
  • Documentation additions or revisions
  • New Repositories
  • Feature Requests
  • Messaging Conversations
  • Conventional and Social Media Activity
  • Conference Attendance and Submissions



Augur Burstiness


GrimoireLab Burstiness

Tools Providing the Metric

  • Grimoire Lab
  • Augur

Data Collection Strategies

  • Quantitative

  • Qualitative Interview Questions
    • Why do you contribute more during a period of time?
    • What do you believe to be the root cause for particular bursts?
    • What impact do different events (e.g., hackathons, mentorship program, or conferences) have on project activity?


This metric was inspired by the work of Goh and Barabasi (2008): https://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0610233.pdf