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The Future of Open Source Sustainability, as Seen Elsewhere

The Future of Open Source Sustainability, as Seen Elsewhere

2018 brought us a rich conversation about open source sustainability, licensing, distributed funding models, infrastructure investments, money flows and relationships between providers plus a new take on the "freeloader" problem. Most of this conversation happened in English and over US-centric social media platforms while global contributions on GitHub continue to not only surpass US-based ones but grow faster, while every country in the Top 10 countries by growth of open source repos are developing markets.

In this session, we present different perspectives on this problem from open source leaders in developing markets and other underrepresented voices, leveraging interviews and discussions with different communities in 2019:

* What is the perception of foundations and codes of conduct outside of the US?
* Where do global leaders stand in the "open source business model" debate?
* Is "startup money" seen as a threat to open source sustainability when VCs can't reach you?
* Can we decouple sustainability of open source from the survival of the maintainer?

Additional resources: https://gist.github.com/bureado/5e2152ac6e6a8d920baeb5f2678b97d3

José Miguel Parrella

March 13, 2019
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  1. Jose Miguel Parrella
    https://jmp.soy | @bureado
    The Future of Open Source
    Sustainability
    (as seen elsewhere)

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  2. Source: The State of the Octoverse

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  3. Lost in translation
    • Open source
    sustainability
    • Open source foundations
    • Income (in)equality
    • Wealth (re)distribution
    • Project freeloaders
    • Open source business
    model

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  4. 3.57/5.00 Q: I believe open source has an
    "income inequality" problem
    From author’s survey

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  5. Meanwhile, on Twitter
    Source: Twitter poll by author

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  6. Strong opinions beget strong opinions
    • Respondents that agreed open source has an income inequality
    problem…
    • …often think foundations play a critical role in the future of open
    source (82%)
    • …and they, in turn, often think competition makes open source
    better (79%)
    • …and those people are more likely to say Codes of Conduct play an
    important role in sustainability.
    From author’s survey

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  7. Threats & non-threats
    Threats Non-threats
    Software patents (75%+)
    Freeloaders (<20%)
    Young people (<20%)
    Income inequality (~50%)
    Startup money (<40%)
    From author’s survey

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  8. 3.52/5.00
    Q: I believe "codes of conduct" play
    a critical role for "open source
    sustainability"
    From author’s survey

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  9. Sustainability: what clicks/what doesn’t
    Top Bottom (btw. 1 and 3 respondents)
    Distributed funding (>50%) New licenses
    Diversity & inclusion (>50%) Eliminate freeloaders
    Subscription systems (about a third) Eliminate BDFLs
    More foundations (about a third) Government step-in
    From author’s survey

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  10. Source: The State of the Octoverse
    Source: Stack Overflow Developer Survey

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  11. On post-modern licensing
    Left: author’s survey, Right: Devon Zuegel’s survey on Twitter

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  12. Themes: Project survival
    • The ability to keep healthy projects, projects that are being taken care
    of
    • Making sure that there is a thriving community […] so that such
    software can be maintained and produced for years to come.
    • The set of rules/tasks deployed in a project to ensure its survivability in
    all the involved dimensions (i.e., code, community, legal, etc.)
    Anonymous respondent verbatims

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  13. Themes: Maintainer survival
    • Being able to sustain an open source developer's life without hurting
    the commons pool.
    • the possibility to contribute to open source software development […]
    while my life expectatives (sic) are assured
    • Open source sustainability means having the maintainers capture a
    big enough portion of the generated value. Currently I think it's too
    often around 0%.
    Anonymous respondent verbatims

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  14. Themes: Recognition/unsung heroes
    • Attract volunteer and/or paid-for work in critical open source
    components or projects that span multiple open source solutions
    which have a large user base
    • Giving more visibility on the real contributions of open source
    software or components when these are part of a larger software
    ecosystem
    • Making sure that communities have enough money to develop new
    features, maintain and legally protect open source software that is
    used by in critical infrastructure in both public and private
    organizations.
    Anonymous respondent verbatims

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  15. Themes: Societal/Ethos
    • Collaborating and care about software FREEDOM and Openness
    • The capacity of humanity of carrying on with the free and open source
    practice based on the persistence of freedom ideals, the prevalence
    of openness ethos, and the existence of favorable social and
    comercial conditions.
    • Everyone helping each other (money, time, etc) so that the world can
    advance together
    • Meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of
    future generations to meet their own needs
    Anonymous respondent verbatims

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  16. Key takeaways
    • Needs more research: software patents, role of government/regulators
    • Foundations perceived as important, but role and impact unclear
    • Diversity & inclusion expectations unmet, CoCs insufficient
    • A strong position on a core issue such as income inequality tends to
    dictate positions in topics such as role of foundations, competition
    • It does not seem possible to decouple survival of project from survival
    of the individual maintainer
    • Open source sustainability and associated problems aren't a zero-
    sum game
    Jose Miguel Parrella | https://jmp.soy | @bureado

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  17. Recommendations
    • Make time to and pay close attention to definitions, don't assume people's
    background or where they stand on a problem based on their affiliations
    • Does your customer advisory board look like your customers? (roadmap
    discussions, release notes, documentation)
    • Bring more project functions into your diversity & inclusion efforts (speakers,
    ambassadors, l10n/i18n)
    • Can you as project leader describe to members what long-term survival looks
    like for your project? And can they?
    • Don’t hesitate to draw boundaries for problems you don’t believe in or where
    someone else is an expert
    Jose Miguel Parrella | https://jmp.soy | @bureado

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