ASF Community Metrics (or Cool Graphs)

by Tim O'Brien

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Ken Coar (author of Apache Cookbook) assembled some mailing list statistics for every list hosted by the Apache Software Foundation.

One thing I noticed was that Jakarta's commons-dev
is the second busiest mailing list at apache (second to tomcat-user). The health of a community has a lot to do with the activity (or more accurately the persistence of activity) on both a development and user mailing list. These stats are interesting because they show mailing list stats for healthy communities like the httpd project and commons-dev as well as stats for unhealthy communities like xindice.

From this page, you can see that commons-dev has 428 subscribers and averages 62 messages per day - cvs commits, bugzilla, jira, gump, and human messages. The commons-user list has 829 subscribers and averages around 12 messages a day. This is healthy, but it could be better.

On the other hand, the xindice-dev list has 284 subscribers (I am one of them), but only averages 0.63 messages per day. This means that of 284 people someone gets the itch to commit to cvs or send an email only once every two days. If you've been following xindice you will know that it is practically lifeless. But, the user mailing has almost twice the number of subscribers 492, and an even smaller average messages per day of 0.55. I brought this up once, only to have someone chide me for thinking that mailing list activity had anything to do with interest. But, the truth is, it does. If there isn't a lively discussion on either the user or dev list, bugs are not being fixed and brainpower is not being spent on the project. That community is gone, and the people left are less than interested. Lot's of people are watching xindice, but few are contributing.