I guess there are two angles that I can think of right now when it comes to the sustainability of the project that I am going to address. I will try to go straight to the point.
Contributor base sustainability
There are many things we need to do to ensure we have a healthy stream of new contributors.
Raising the profile of our platform, if our platform is not attractive or is not heard of, there will not be potential contributors coming our way. I trully think that aligning both from a technological and institutional angle is important here.
I will give a couple of examples of initiatives I was involved in that I think helped people to keep GNOME relevant.
One was our migration to GitLab. For a long while I was convinced that our contribution tooling was pushing contributors away and that we were missing out. I initially created the GitHub mirror to test this hypothesis and soon after we were getting casual PRs from people from outside the community. Unfortunately GitHub was a no go due to licensing.
A few years later I tried out GitLab and was really impressed and I thought their CE offering was mostly what we needed, I approached GitLab and with the help of Carlos Soriano we started requesting features to be moved to CE to close the gap. I want to note that it was eventually Carlos and Andrea Veri who ended up championing most of the heavy lifting of that migration.
I truly think that migration has enabled contributions and contributors that just wouldn’t have been there otherwise.
Another example was my initial push to explore the potential of Rust in the GNOME ecosystem, I wrote a blog post that had a reaction from the core Rust team who offered their help, out of that came the first Rust+GNOME hackfest in Mexico. Where hackers working on Rust bindings met with a large part of the core Rust team to accelerate our binding story.
A lot got done that day and I believe our Rust story improved massively from the small core community that was forged that day. The core Rust binding team as well as Federico carried the spirit of that hackfest forward to date.
If you look at most of the new apps showing up in the GNOME ecosystem, it seems that if not most a lot of them are Rust based, so I think those efforts and the work of the resulting community are paying off.
These are just two examples of me trying to build relationships with organizations and projects that align to our goals. I think we can/should do this more often.
The other angle is the financial sustainability of the foundation, this is a topic I care a lot about, I was in charge of sponsors for GUADEC in Manchester, something I noticed is that the local team at GUADEC has been the one responsible for sponsorships. I found this unfair, since I felt this was something that was closer to the core of the Foundation having a relationship with those companies and less about organizing an event, but also detrimental as we rebooted the relationships with sponsors every year since it would be a different person.
I tried to champion the idea of a sponsorship committee for two years that would carry the torch year over year, but frankly I felt alone in that duty during those two years as nobody got nearly as involved as I did.
Good news is now we have staff that can take care of this, but we also have a different challenge, one I am less familiar with which is scaling our donor base in a bigger scale to sustain a larger staff. This is new territory for me as the target is not tech companies but larger philanthropic organizations, I am eager to look into this and try to tackle it in the upcoming years.
Well I hope I have shown where my focus is when it comes to the sustainability of the project.