Maybe I’m just a grumpy pants, and will never run a successful open source project, but the suggestions here (while not bad) represent a large chunk of work. It might be OK to spend some time working on these things once you have some traction, but in no way would I ever focus on this list of things over getting the project in a usable state for my intended purposes. I’m working on this thing for some reason, and at least for me, that reason isn’t community success, but rather success in solving the problem I started the project for to begin with.
This may sound selfish, but, I don’t think my releasing of source code under a permissive license, that might solve your problem is in anyway selfish.
The way I see it, it’s a lot of work if you have a lot of users, but if you have a lot of users, you should have a lot of potential contributors, and thus you have a lot to gain from the work. It seems like most of the things that don’t apply to new projects with no users are simple copy/paste jobs, like CONTRIBUTING.md and a code of conduct.
represent a large chunk of work.
(I used to do community moderation and bugtracker moderation for the Padrino project and am now part of the Rust community team)
That’s true and false at the same time. And what is “large”? 10% of your time? 20% of you time?
First of all, with practice comes proficiency. Bug tracker grooming, guiding new contributors and setting up a project in a way that makes clear how to contribute will get easier after the first time (e.g. you can copy-and-paste from you last one ;)). Second, traction needs two parts: the ground and the wheel. If you don’t provide a good ground to people that want to come and join you, you can spin the wheel as fast as you want. New people help doing more work.
Sure, work is limited and investing too much time on some thing can be a problem for a project, but so does investing not enough. But most projects that blossom quickly do quite a lot to find new people and keep them - up to the point where some people do just that.
My takeaway from experience is that all this is not even that much work, given all the effort we do for our projects.
It’s also okay to be the lone wolf, or, even better, to find people that like this kind of work.