’I didn’t sign up for this’: The Invisible Work of Maintaining Free/Open-Source Software Communities.


Conference presentation at 4S 2020, Virtual

Abstract: Open-source software has become critical infrastructure for many sectors, including academic research, industry, governments, non-profits, activism, and more. However, the work of maintaining these projects is no small feat, particularly given the many different kinds of work expected of maintainers. In this talk, I share findings and insights from our team’s ongoing mixed-method research into the maintenance of open-source software in and beyond scientific computing, which is based on ethnographic interviews with maintainers and stakeholders, as well as quantitative analyses of code repositories. In particular, I discuss the often-invisible work that maintainers do to support their projects, and how invisible work intersects with other relevant issues to the sustainability of OSS projects, including funding models, governance, diversity & inclusion, and burnout.