Although we might not notice it, much of the technology we rely on, from cell phones to cloud servers, is fueled by decades of effort by volunteers who create innovative software as well as the organizations necessary to sustain it. Despite this powerful legacy, we now are facing a crisis: not all of these critical components have been sufficiently maintained. Can we detect that an important software component is becoming neglected before major failures occur? Are these neglected packages just a matter of resources — old code and too few contributors — or can we see broader patterns that play a role, such as collaboration and organizational structures? Kaylea Champion has been working to answer these questions in her dissertation. As part of this work, she joined the software community metrics enthusiasts gathered at this year’s CHAOSSCon EU on September 12, 2022 as part of the Open Source Summit.
Kaylea’s presentation shares work in progress about the sources of underproduction, or when highly important packages see low quality development, in open software development. This presentation marks her second time at CHAOSSCon and builds on her work shared at last year’s conference in a lightning talk about detecting underproduction in Debian (see coverage of this work as presented to Debian folks here). Engaging with communities is a key part of this work: when we understand practitioner perspectives on underproduction and its causes, we can do science that supports taking immediate action. If you are interested in measuring the health of your collaborative community, let’s talk!