How to help struggling open source projects?

I’ve recently learned something new and interesting regarding volunteering and inspiring others. This is a story on how to help struggling open source projects by example and inspiration.


These days much of the programming work is based on open source libraries. Often they are small packages someone somewhere made for free, on their free time.

Often times packages die away, unmaintained. Sometimes that’s just because there is something better. Often original maintainer just got busy or moved on to work on something else.

Sometimes these abandoned pet projects are rather big and important, relied upon by many fellow developers and other libraries, which then in turn are used by many developers and so on.


So I stumbled upon one such unmaintained library recently. We’ve used Agenda extensively at And we’re far from being the only ones: Agenda has ~45K downloads a month, 74 other library dependents and over 3K stargazers on GitHub.

Instead of switching to an alternative or programming all those features we needed by ourself, I’d rather see Agenda being maintained again. So I hopped in for a week/two.

I started replying to issues and poking bug reporters to submit back code fixes. I managed to inspire a bunch of people to work on the project, arranged moving the repository from original developer’s personal account to an organization, arranged moving another related package under that same org, triaged a big list of issues into manageable actionable list, together with others who had stepped in to help.

Basically I just kept repeating “Could you help with this or that?” -message. Action inspires more action. People are willing to help if you show them direction and arrange them power and means to work.

Original author Ryan Schmukler was more than happy to pass access to his pet project, now collaborative effort to create best scheduling library for Node.JS. There’s a plan for new documentation and website representing the project, new Slack channel and even a sponsorship deal was mentioned.

Just look at that mountain of activity this summer!

Contributor activity on Agenda


Thank you so much for niftylettuceOmgImAlexislushcjoeframbachemhagmanmichelem09and others for your help & activity! And of course thanks to rschmukler for letting us help.

Agenda - A light-weight job scheduling library for Node.js


Looking for working on open source projects but don’t quite know where to start? Hesitant with your programming skills? You can help out in other ways. It’s as rewarding to help by replying support messages and just simply inspiring and supporting others to do the work.

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