GitHub Constellation (2017)

Abstract

Something has changed in open-source the last few years. Today, more people use open source than ever before, but fewer people contribute back than ever before. Everybody assumes that somebody else is doing it. This is also known as the “free rider problem” and left unchecked, this it leads to a tragedy of the commons. Open-source software is digital infrastructure which is maintained by people who do so for the love of it and mastery of their craft. Just like physical infrastructure, digital infrastructure needs regular upkeep by maintainers. Unfortunatley these maintainers are now regular receipients of abuse and receive demands for unpaid work by employees of publically listed companies, governments, major software companies and startups. Despite building their success on this digital infrastructure, much of the leadership in these industries are unaware of these issues, and no individual company or organisation is incentivised to address the public good problem alone. We, the maintainers of open-source software, want to help you, all of you, but have you ever thought about how you can help us?

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