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Working in Public by Nadia Eghbal

Annotation Summary of Working in Public_ The Making and Maintena - Nadia Eghbal.pdf.


Highlight [page 58]: The problem facing maintainers today is not how to get more contributors but how to

Highlight [page 59]: manage a high volume of frequent, low-touch interactions. These developers aren’t building communities; they’re directing air traffic.

Highlight [page 70]: As closed economies, these platforms also bear the responsibility of helping creators grow their reputations and capture the value of their efforts.

Highlight [page 74]: annihilating. To be faced with all those people thinking and talking about me was like standing alone, at the center of a stadium, while thousands of people screamed at me at the top of their lungs. Not for me, at me.


Highlight [page 95]: GitHub had a meteoric impact on open source. It crashed through the roof of the Church of Free and

Highlight [page 96]: Open Source Software and landed on the pews, crushing everything beneath.

Highlight [page 108]: Free as in freedom, not free as in beer,

Highlight [page 111]: To write free software, then, was to be free of the constraints that normally plagued commercial software environments.

Highlight [page 115]: The generational successor to hackers today might be cryptographers and those who dabble in information security: those who flirt with the law, and do so with a wink and a bow.

Highlight [page 122]: The essay argues that developers will find more software bugs when the process is highly participatory (like a “bazaar”), compared to when it’s restricted to a smaller group of

Highlight [page 123]: developers (like a “cathedral”)

Highlight [page 129]: Linux Foundation reports more than 14,000 contributors to the Linux kernel since 2005,24 Torvalds is still the only person who’s allowed to merge those contributions into the main project.

Highlight [page 132]: Freedom of code extends to freedom from the people who make it, too.

Highlight [page 187]: Why is it a problem that the concepts of free software and open source are intrinsically tied to licenses? It’s that the aims and goals of

Highlight [page 188]: both of these movements are about distribution and therefore consumption, but what people care about most today is about the production of software. Software licences regulate distribution, but cannot regulate

Highlight [page 189]: production. . . . This is also the main challenge of whatever comes after open source.40

Highlight [page 207]: JavaScript developers embrace the “amateurization of open source,” despite garnering

Highlight [page 208]: occasional eye rolls from their predecessors.


Highlight [page 260]: In conservation biology, the term charismatic megafauna refers to the idea that polar bears sell environmental causes better than mollusks or insects. The cuter, the better.


Highlight [page 451]: Through her research, Ostrom identified eight design principles that contribute to a wellmanaged, successful commons: 1. Membership boundaries are clearly defined. 2. The rules that govern the commons should

Highlight [page 452]: match the actual conditions. 3. Those who are affected by these rules can participate in modifying them. 4. Those who monitor the rules are either community members or are accountable to the community, rather than outsiders.

Highlight [page 453]: 5. Those who violate the rules are subject to graduated sanctions, which vary depending on the seriousness and context of the offense.

Highlight [page 453]: 6. Conflicts should be resolved within the community, using low-cost methods.

Highlight [page 454]: 7. External authorities recognize the right of community members to devise their own institutions. 8. If the commons is part of a larger system, its governing rules are organized into multiple “nested” layers of authority.110

Highlight [page 455]: Thematically, these conditions point to the need for a strong sense of group identity, which makes governance processes like rules, dispute resolution, and sanctions (i.e., corrective actions) more meaningful.

Highlight [page 528]: Kraut and Resnick observe that a community needs to “protect itself from the potentially damaging actions” of newcomers in order to survive, 127

Highlight [page 529]: Because newcomers have not yet developed commitment to the group and have not yet learned how the group operates, it is rational for established group members to distrust them.”128

Highlight [page 530]: The newcomer effect is also known as the “Eternal September” problem, a term coined by members of the early online community Usenet, which experienced an influx of newcomers every September due to new students getting access for the first time.


Highlight [page 844]: We can think about software as having three major types of costs: creation, distribution, and maintenance.201

Highlight [page 848]: The magic of software is that there is virtually no marginal cost! That’s the economic reality that Gates used to

Highlight [page 849]: build Microsoft’s empire. And what enabled Stallman to “give away” his free software (albeit with strings attached). The freeloaders are free! There is no practical scarcity to worry about.202

Highlight [page 1058]: We measure the reputational value of content differently depending on whether we’re viewing it in static or active state.

Highlight [page 1062]: Reputation, like software, requires maintenance over time.


Highlight [page 1123]: Open source code itself is not a common pool resource but a positive externality of its underlying contributor community.

Highlight [page 1128]: There is definitely a place for users and their demands, however that’s not inside the community (unless they’re also

Highlight [page 1129]: contributing devs); the community, as in practicing any art form, is vulnerable; you wouldn’t sit and criticize a painter while they’re still painting their piece. The user base needs to be moved outside of the artistic realm and into the museum,

Highlight [page 1130]: where your software is on display.266

Highlight [page 1135]: Jonathan Zdziarski proposes moving to a model that he calls “peer source,” where all his projects would become private repositories, which only trusted developers (people he knew, or that someone could vouch for) could access. “The rest of the community can download binaries, and

Highlight [page 1136]: have the satisfaction that there is accountability on some level, just not to them,” he writes.270

Highlight [page 1137]: When sharing is public, it’s possible to end up with too many leechers

Highlight [page 1138]: and not enough seeds,

Highlight [page 1140]: But users can consume open source code without affecting producers, so long as they don’t appropriate their attention.

Highlight [page 1143]: In open source, anybody should be able to not only view, download, and fork open source code, but also to witness the interactions between members.

Highlight [page 1144]: When attention is being appropriated, producers need to weigh the costs and benefits of the transaction.

Highlight [page 1145]: Extractive contributions are those where the marginal cost of reviewing and merging that contribution is greater than the marginal benefit to the project’s producers.

Highlight [page 1175]: There are a few typical patterns used by open source maintainers to manage their available attention:

Highlight [page 1175]: Reduce up-front costs

Highlight [page 1176]: Make themselves less available Distribute costs onto users Increase total attention available

Highlight [page 1182]: Maintenance costs are anathema to software developers. Every developer tries to reduce the amount of maintenance work they need to do over time. But software is never done, and also never dies:

Highlight [page 1215]: Rust’s Highfive bot, for example, finds the best reviewer for a given pull request then tags them, 282while Kubernetes’s Prow Robot reviews, triages, and merges pull requests.


Highlight [page 1495]: Reputation has a half-life on any social platform; successful creators accumulate reputation, which serves as a “battery” that helps them store consumer attention.

Highlight [page 1496]: But if they don’t keep producing new work, that battery will degrade, and eventually get depleted.

Highlight [page 1498]: Public” does not imply “participatory”; i