Maintaining Open Source Software Communities


OSS maintainers face significant issues managing their communities due to a variety of social, psychological and practical issues. Many guides now exist to help both contributors and leaders do OSS better.

However, OSS projects could benefit from a deeper understanding of some of the messier human issues that put projects and their contributors at risk. These include mental health, neurological differences, diversity, complex social interactions, and culture.


We are exploring some of the more complex issues involved in OSS project maintenance, with a view to designing a larger project that can provide expert guidance.


We are conducting interviews with maintainers of different OSS projects. We are inviting a diverse range of maintainers to be interviewed, considering aspects such as gender, sexuality, age, nationality, project type, and programming language used.

The interviews are be open-ended. The interview questions cover the interviewee’s personal history of involvement with OSS projects, their hobby and work-related contributions, and their experience of community management issues and leadership tricks.


We are planning a series of blog posts, a major report in narrative style, presentations, and more.

More information

The research team are:

  • Gawain Lynch (Project Lead)
  • Erin Taylor (Research Lead)
  • Research Advisor (Alexia Maddox)

For more information contact Gawain Lynch (Project Lead) at