3 mins read
Earlier in 2022, httpie announced that it lost all its stars due to a small error. The devastation of losing 10+ years of attention and traction sounds devastating, and we can all only learn from their experience to ensure we don’t make the same mistake. But, I want to digest whether any of this matters.
Projects with 15K stars are in the top 1000 repositories on GitHub
GitHub Stars is not a good metric for engagement or the quality of the project, and I am not alone in that conclusion. However, you can't ignore that the industry has centralized around the GitHub Star. Since the httpie's stardust, httpie has regained nearly half of the stars it had prior but gained the love and support of a community. Before this incident, I had not used httpie for anything and now find myself testing out the product with my APIs to see the quality of the product.
Losing all their stars became an opportunity to attract more attention to the project and expose that this open source project has a business. I am not insinuating that losing them was intentional, but I am stating that I had not used their service prior and was not aware of the product side of the business until this year. 54k stars on GitHub was validation that at least 54k individual GitHub users cared enough to validate that it was worth checking out. Per information grather from OSS Capital's COSS Community newsletters, projects with 15K stars are in the top 1000 repositories on GitHub.
Httpie has regained its position on the elite list of top open-source projects after being at the bottom only months prior. The value the project provides extends outside of the universe of stargazers. Thousands of projects and developers use their open-source project. They have an avid readership on their blog and an engaged customer base. I led developer relations at GitHub during this incident and was DM'd by quite a few users of httpie.
The accurate metric for growth should be on community, not stars. By focusing on a growing community, httpie could scale quickly and gain exposure to a few OSS trending algorithms. Though their outside contributions were small, they had an established user base. They were in a much better place than most who found themselves in a similar situation, looking for growth and awareness. My recommendation for them is to grow their contributor community.
During my tenure at GitHub, I got the question"How to gain traction in open source," and the response was always similar. Grow a community of users and contributors who would miss you if you were gone. This validation can be from users, contributors, and even stargazers. This is arguably harder to track than stars, but at the end of the day, it comes down to when you experience a stardust event. What community can you reach out to for graceful recovery?
If you are interested in growing your contributor community, consider joining our OpenSauced Insights community. You can get alerts on contribution and community growth, so you always know when to make an impact.
(thumbnail image generated by Dalle 2)
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