Happening right now, mattdm is doing an AMA on reddit.com/r/linux which can be found here: https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/37l2mf/i_am_matthew_miller_fedora_project_leader_ask_me/.
I got name dropped a couple times (this is still pretty surreal :P), and here is my response to one of the comment threads on Metrics/New Contributors: https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/37l2mf/i_am_matthew_miller_fedora_project_leader_ask_me/crnk7zs.
This is one of the things that we hired Remy D to work on
Hi there /r/linux!
This is a great question, and one that members of the Fedora-Infra team have spent the past year building tools and gathering data to answer. The fedmsg project, along with tools like datagrepper, have been collecting stats on developer and community contributions within Fedora, and feeding those stats into Fedora Badges to quantify, recognize, and promote activity. Everything from git commits, wiki edits, IRC meetings, blog posts, package builds (and fails), conference/event participation, all kinds of public activity is being published in real-time on the fedmsg bus! I even have a GNOME Shell extension installed pops-up desktop notifications whenever messages related to my favorite hackers or packages go over the wire :)
From this fire-hose of data we can surface correlations between types of messages, and message patterns as they relate to specific phases of the release cycle (or other timelines for that matter) to make informed decisions of how best to prioritize and publicize action.
Where do new contributors come from?
I'm pretty new to this role in Fedora, but I've been studying and organizing FOSS communities as a Hackademic for some time now. Here is my (wholly unoriginal) take on this: It starts with the task, then the people, then the idea.
This model for organizational development doesn't just play out in FOSS, but in all types of communities of practice. At first you show up because you need to accomplish something. You have an itch to scratch. In the case of a work-for-hire relationship, that itch may be "I need to pay my bills," but in FOSS it is usually, "I need a tool to do a task," paid or not.
You start there, maybe from scratch, or more likely by taking something that works and adjusting it to fit your use-case, with help from people who came before you. Those who helped you are likely people solving problems you are interested in solving, and the more you work together, the faster you can complete the tasks you set out to accomplish. You help them, they help you, and the virtuous cycle is off and running :)
Once you've established a working relationship with the people, you are now part of something larger. That larger something--whether it is a company, or a hackerspace, or a common goal or cause or idea--is the thing that eventually motivates you to stay and continue contributing.
New contributors come for the task, but stay for the community.
Our problem is there is so much more work than there is people who can do that work. New contributors don't emerge from the womb ready to start hacking. We (Fedora and FOSS-at-large) must support and cultivate an entirely new base.
I've helped a decent amount of new contributors get started through my work at RIT, which has mostly been about equipping them with tools in their toolbelt to do certain tasks. Once a new contributor feels the empowerment that comes from solving their own problems, they usually find their way to people and places where those types of problems are getting solved, FLOSSophy or not.
From what I've seen, new contributors come not just from working with the best tools for the job, but from having a positive place to experiment and learn (and teach!) about using them.