Basically, I wonder if there are restrictions on what can serve as a subject to the verb need. The sentence that started this comes from a recent EL&U question:
Successfully doing this needs a deep understanding of coding.
The subject of the sentence is formed by a gerund, doing, which refers to a task or action. It makes sense. However, I would never say this myself. A person may need something, but an occasion requires something. The gerund feels better placed with a different verb:
Successfully doing this requires a deep understanding of coding.
On reflection, I suspect that need, as a verb, may be restricted to taking people or things as subjects:
The boss needs someone who has a deep understanding of coding.
Merriam-Webster wasn't useful for tracking this distinction. The Oxford English Dictionary quotations feature personal nouns, pronouns, objects, or impersonal pronouns as subjects. I notice the specification of person and thing in this definition:
8.a. To require (a person) to do something; to require (a thing) to do or be something.
However, this isn't restrictive. It's possible that gerund subjects for need are valid in some cases, or that other subdefinitions accommodate the usage. I appreciate any help figuring out what formal or informal expectations influence what can serve as a subject to need.