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3 min read

Bus Factor

The Bus Factor for a project is usually defined as the minimum number of team members that would have to disappear (get hit by a bus) for a project to stall due to lack of knowledgeable people. A low Bus Factor means that the loss of just a small number of people can stall out a project, while a high factor means there is some resiliency in the project.

This was how PIXLS.US was very early on with only myself writing for the site (Bus Factor of 1). As soon as possible I tried to find others to help and also made sure the code was available on a public repository (along with being licensed liberally using Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0).

In the case of PIXLS.US for example, we aren’t doing too bad…

For the server that runs our forums, both darix and myself have access, and for the main code repository on Github we have paperdigits, David TschumperlĂ©, and Morgan_Hardwood. We have quite a few folks doing administration and moderation on the forums also. This way the project can continue without me (not that I’m going anywhere).

This is in stark contrast to another community not long ago.


Unfortunately, a good example of this problem and it’s ramifications can be found on This was a GIMP related forum that was around for quite some time. Back in September of 2016, the underlying forum software started showing MySQL errors, and the situation hasn’t changed since. Despite everyone’s best efforts to reach out to the owner of both the domain and the webserver (and most importantly: the database), there was no response. Nada, nothing, zilch.

Train wreck at Montparnasse 1895

Just like that many years worth of posts, interactions, tutorials, and information are all gone (over 40,000 posts). All because this site had a single point of failure.

This can (did) have a devastating effect on communities. It’s also yet another example of why you should focus your efforts in places that don’t have these types of resiliency issues. Make sure that the communities you are spending time creating content for are healthy and don’t show these types of weaknesses (low Bus Factor).


In response to the death of, prominent members of the old forum got together and created a new site: With many different folks responsible for administration duties on the new forum, the resiliency of the site is already higher than the old One of these grey beards also happens to be a mod on as well, @Ofnuts (and an all-around helpful person). logo

If you are looking for a new forum and community about GIMP to participate in, this is a great place to consider!

Speaking of Participation

Undoubtedly one of the casualties of the sudden demise of a forum like this is the content that people have created over the years. Please, if you are considering taking the time to write tutorials for something in GIMP, consider licensing it freely (CC BY-SA or better) and letting me know about it so I can include it with the other tutorials on the actual GIMP website. This is a fantastic way to participate and give back to the greater GIMP community while also ensuring that your hard work will live on.

Filed under: bus factor, community

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