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Nadia Eghbal

The Changelog The Changelog #408

Working in Public

Nadia Eghbal is back and this time she’s talking with us about her new book Working in Public. If you’re an old school listener you might remember the podcast we produced with Nadia and Mikeal Rogers called Request for Commits. If you weren’t listening then, or can’t remember…don’t worry…the back catalog of Request for Commits is still online and subscribe-able via all the podcast ways. That podcast is still getting listens to this very day!

Obviously we go way back with Nadia…and having a chance to now talk with her through all the details of her new book Working in Public, this was a milestone for this show and Jerod and I. We talked through the reasons she wrote the book in the first place, Nadia’s thoughts on the future of the internet and the connection of creators to the platforms they build their followings on, and we also talk about the health of projects and communities and the challenges we face internet-at-large as well as right here in our backyard in the open source community.

Nadia Eghbal nadiaeghbal.com

The Twitch argument for GitHub Sponsors

Nadia Eghbal thinks GitHub Sponsors might be more like Twitch than it is like Patreon.

Twitch streamers and, similarly I think, GitHub open source developers, benefit from an additional set of motivations, which is, “I want to watch and learn from you”. A graphic artist or a blogger who’s funded on Patreon doesn’t quite have that same relationship to their audience. In those cases, I think their output – the artifacts they create – takes center stage.

She also thinks this dynamic might indicate that individual sponsorships will succeed despite enterprises being “where the money’s at”. I don’t know how this all will play out, but I do know it’ll be interesting!

Nadia Eghbal nadiaeghbal.com

Making money with licenses

Nadia Eghbal, on the role of licenses in open source funding:

I’m skeptical that new licenses are the right approach on a systemic level, both in terms of feasibility, as well as where I think the world is going. I’ll tackle each of these concerns separately.

I tend to agree with her take on the Right Way™️ to be thinking about it:

I’m more interested in solutions that aim to capture value on the production, rather than consumption side. While everyone is focused on putting up tollbooths, opportunities to “price” maintainer attention, and access to maintainers, remain undervalued.

There are issues with this as well. For one, buying access to maintainers is a proxy for buying influence over the project’s direction. This isn’t a guarantee, but it’s definitely a concern and could negatively impact other users.

That being said, I think production-side monetization in the world of open source is a winning strategy over consumption-side monetization. What do you think?

Nadia Eghbal nadiaeghbal.com

User support systems in open source

As with any research Nadia Eghbal shares, this is a deep dive into understanding the user support systems present in today’s open source. It’s very detailed, highly researched, and more importantly it’s actionable.

Here’s a sample of Nadia’s closing remarks:

I barely scratched the surface on user support systems: there’s a gold mine of data waiting to be played with. I’d love to see more research on how support communities form and maintain themselves (particularly Stack Overflow, mailing lists, forums, and synchronous chat).

Why do some have only one or two answerers, while others have many? Does the growth of these communities mirror that of the code contributor community? Implicitly, a deeper understanding of support communities would help validate the growth model and hub-and-spokes model presented above.

Nadia Eghbal nadiaeghbal.com

Methodologies for measuring project health

How do we know whether an open source project is doing well? Number of contributors? Number of users? Number of appearances on The Changelog*? Nadia’s been researching these things:

A lot of people are interested in measuring the health and velocity of open source projects. After digging through the current research landscape, I’d like to summarize the most common approaches I’ve seen, and my conclusions here.

One conclusion she’s come to is that our current methods aren’t cutting the mustard. Find out why and what some of her suggestions for improvement are in this excellent piece.

*yes of course that’s a joke

The Changelog The Changelog #290

That's it. This is the finale!

We’re rebroadcasting the finale episode of the beloved Request For Commits on The Changelog. But don’t worry, we’ll be back with new episodes next week.

In this finale episode of Request For Commits, we regroup to discuss the podcast from its start to its finish, lessons learned, community impact, and where the conversations around open source sustainability are taking place, now and in the future.

It’s the end of Request For Commits, but the conversations we’ve had will continue on The Changelog. We also have some guest-host appearances for Nadia and Mikeal planned in the near future on this podcast. So, stay tuned.

The Changelog The Changelog #252

GitHub's Open Source Survey (2017) with Frannie Zlotnick and Nadia Eghbal

On Friday, June 2, 2017 – GitHub announced the details of their Open Source Survey – an open data set on the open source community for researchers and the curious. Frannie Zlotnick, Nadia Eghbal, and Mikeal Rogers joined the show to talk through the backstory and key insights of this open data project which sheds light on the broader open source community’s attitudes, experiences, and backgrounds of those who use, build, and maintain open source software.

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