Understanding the Orbit Model

The Orbit Model is a framework for building high-gravity communities. A high gravity community is one that excels at attracting and retaining members by providing an outstanding member experience.

This guide will cover four concepts that are important to understand the foundational ideas that power the framework and how the Orbit application works: Presence, Love, Reach and Orbit Levels.

  • Love is a member's overall level of engagement and impact in the community.
  • Reach is a measure of a community member’s sphere of influence.
  • Presence is a measure of a community member's activity over a period of time.
  • Orbit levels are a practical tool for member segmentation and help you create different programs for different types of community members.

Note: As of May 2021 the Orbit application incorporates newer concepts like Presence and a newer method to calculate the member's Love and Orbit Level. If you're an application user and have any questions about the updates, please reach out to [email protected]

Core Concepts


Love is a member's score based on their relative engagement and impact in the community. All members have a Love metric, and this number is what determines a member's Orbit Level.

  • The Love of a member changes gradually over time.
  • The number of unique channels and groups a member is active in plays a big part
  • The weight of each activity and the frequency of activities also play a role

Orbit Levels

Orbit Levels are a tool for segmenting community members by how engaged they are, to help you give the right experience to the right people.

Each member is assigned an Orbit Level based on their ranking as determined by Love:

Orbit Level

Name of Level


Orbit Level 1


Top 10% of Love

Orbit Level 2


Next 25% of Love

Orbit Level 3


Next 65% of Love

Orbit Level 4


Members with one, or only low or no-weight activities

No Data

Out of Orbit

No activities for the member in the past 365 days

Note: The percentiles for Orbit 1-3 are computed after removing Orbit 4. In other words, top 10% means top 10% of Orbit 1-3, not Top 10% of every member.

Activity Weights

Activity Weights range from 0 through 10. They help place members in respective Orbit levels and influence their Love score.

The exceptions are activities with a weight of 0. These are activities that do not contribute to the continuing participation of a member.
For example, opening a pull request is an indicator of active contribution and is assigned a weight of 7, whereas the merging of a pull request does not reflect on the presence of the opener, and is assigned a weight of 0.

To know the weights of the default activities used by your built-in Orbit integrations, click on the Settings tab, then Activity Types in the sidebar:

To modify the weight of an activity type, hover over the channel name next to its activity type name, an icon appears, click it. This will display a modal window that enables you to modify the weight:

For your custom activities, you are free to choose the weights that best fit the needs of your organization. The following table is a suggested guide for how much to weigh these activities:




Notes, GitHub Pull Requests merged

Less Than 1

Twitter follows, GitHub stars, newsletter subscriptions


Chat messages, direct messages


Forum and social posts, support requests, GitHub issues raised


Original content submitted, attended an event, created a GitHub pull request


Organized an event, gave a presentation, attending planning meetings


Presence is a measure of how active a member is over a selected period of time.

Graphical representation of Presence for Orbit membersGraphical representation of Presence for Orbit members

Graphical representation of Presence for Orbit members

Presence reads like a music score: each vertical bar is a span of time (1 day, 2 days, a week, or a month, depending on the timeframe), each pitch is a channel, and notes are the unique activities.

Further Exploration

The Orbit Model is open source and available on GitHub. We welcome discussions about the model on GitHub.

Are you curious about how the Orbit team uses the Orbit Model in our own work? Read this blog post on the ways we use our own model to power the Orbit community.