My life position is that build something useful for yourself and if someone else will find it useful too - it's just a great bonus. In that case it's not necessary to have a very popular project to stay it alive.
So there are different projects which differently will rely on popularity. If you build ambitious, modern and massive project, which requires community to be a part of it(such as dev.to), you have to worry about popularity. Especially it's hard at the beginning to grow the community from scratch and engage more people. And it could be a different project - small one. With my team we developed one really small Mac Os open source app around year ago, thousands of people use it, but we do not have contributors at all(also because it's probably swift language) and also because it's just one action tool, it just works.
That makes a lot of sense.
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