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The 300-tipping point

Open source projects have a tipping point, and it is 300 people. I don’t know why, but it just is.

I’ve started a number of open source projects, some successful, some not so much. For some I’ve had individual contributions which have been fantastic (one that springs to mind is PPerl – a “persistent perl” engine, which pretty much has had only one major contributor other than myself for it’s lifetime). For most I’ve had nobody emailing or saying anything.

For the successful ones I’ve noticed a tipping point, and it is 300 users.

I had this with AxKit. Once the mailing list got 300 users it took off. Prior to that the mailing list sat silent. After 300 users the mailing list started getting chatter.

I noticed this with SpamAssassin too. It was around the 300 user mark on the mailing list when things started to take off (I didn’t start the SpamAssassin project, but I was the main developer for a while).

I’m now noticing it with Haraka. Things are starting to bubble with interest at 260+ “watchers” on github. Most of those people will never actually do anything with the code. Most will probably never even download it. Once it hits 300 though I suspect I’ll have to create a mailing list. That’s just how these things go.

I don’t know why the limit is 300, but if you’re creating an open source project, that’s the number you need to aim for, as a minimum.

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