Presentations and publications about the work of maintaining free & open-source software

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Over the past few years, our team has been working on a few interrelated research projects about the work of maintaining Free & Open-Source Software (FOSS) projects. For more information about our project, read this blog post we wrote when we first received our research grant from the Ford & Sloan Foundations. Our team is an interdisciplinary mix tackling these issues from qualitative and quantitative perspectives, and many of us have also been maintainers of various FOSS projects:



  • Invisible Work, Incentives, & Burnout in Open Communities by Dorothy Howard at SciPy 2019
  • The Invisible Work of Maintaining & Sustaining Open Source Software by R. Stuart Geiger at SciPy 2019
  • Coming soon as a podcast: “I didn’t sign up for this”: The Invisible Work of Maintaining Free/Open-Source Software Communities” discussion by R. Stuart Geiger and Dorothy Howard at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S)
  • Coming soon as a recorded panel discussion: “Labor, Roles, and Incentives in Digital Infrastructure” with R. Stuart Geiger, a panel hosted by the Ford and Sloan Digitial Infrastructure Initiative


We’re working on a few different papers at the moment, but you can read this earlier paper from some of our team about a related topic: documentation in FOSS:

  • Geiger, R.S., Varoquaux, N., Mazel-Cabasse, C., and Holdgraf, C. “The Types, Roles, and Practices of Documentation in Data Analytics Open Source Software Libraries.” Computer Supported Cooperative Work (JCSCW) 27, 767–802 (2018).