Occasional Contributors

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

Synonyms: drive-through contributors; fly-by contributors, episodic contributors


Occasional contributors are those 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].

Motivations for being an occasional contributor:

  • Self-service: A person has a bug they need fixed, so they submit an issue or a fix.
  • Work-related: A person works for a company and the company requires a fix or feature.
  • Special project or use case: A person needs to get their project to run on Commodore 64 or Atari 800XL.
  • Documentation addition/fix: A person is fixing a typo.
  • Hackathon, workshop, or other event: A person is participating in a time-boxed event for a specific purpose or goal.
  • Suboptimal Onboarding: A person may have intended to stick around, but decided that the community or project was not a good fit for them.
  • Life Event: 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 you understand if:

  • More people are looking at the project
  • More people are using the project
  • The contribution process is working well
  • More people are able to contribute to the project
  • More contributors exist to convert to dependable community members

All of which can help you improve your understanding of the health of your project.


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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 https://tinyurl.com/augur-flyby Augur API Documentation: https://tinyurl.com/augur-flyby-docs

Occasional Contributors Cauldron

From: https://cauldron.io/

Tools Providing the Metric



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

This metric was last reviewed on March 1, 2022 as part of the 202204 release