The term “open source” refers only to how code is distributed and consumed. It says nothing about how code is produced. “Open source” projects have nothing more in common with one another than “companies” do. All companies, by definition, produce something of value that is exchanged for money, but we don’t assume that every company has the same business model.
Ben Thompson, who writes about business and technology on his blog, Stratechery, goes so far as to suggest that delivering this kind of value is, itself, the definition of a platform, as opposed to aggregators. Platforms deliver value to third parties that build on top of them, whereas aggregators are pure intermediaries. Thompson references a quote attributed to Bill Gates, who defines a platform as “when the economic value of everybody that uses it exceeds the value of the company that creates it.” Based on this definition, Thompson suggests that Facebook is not actually a platform but an aggregator, because there is “no reason for Facebook, beyond goodwill, to do anything for (media) publishers.”

There are countless initiatives today aimed at helping more developers contribute to open source projects. These efforts are widely championed as "good for open source," and they are frequently accomplished by tapping into a public sense of goodwill.

However, in speaking to maintainers privately, I learned that these initiatives frequently cause them to seize with anxiety, because such initiatives often attract low-quality contributions. This creates more work for maintainers—all contributions, after all, must be reviewed before they are accepted. Maintainers frequently lack infrastructure to bring these contributors into a "contributor community"; in many cases, there is no community behind the project at all, only individual efforts.

In my conversations with maintainers, I heard them express a genuine conflict between wanting to encourage newcomers to participate in open source and feeling unable to personally take on that work. Maintainers simply don't have the energy to onboard every person who shows passing interest. Many told me they were frustrated by prior attempts to cater to a revolving door of contributors—sometimes hundreds of them—who didn't stick around. Maintainers recounted how those who'd expressed interest sometimes disappeared before they'd even submitted their first contribution.