Google Research

Open Source Ecosystems Need Equitable Credit Across Contributions

  • Amanda Marie Casari
  • James P. Bagrow
  • Jean-Gabriel Young
  • Katie McLaughlin
  • Laurent Hébert-Dufresne
  • Milo Z. Trujillo
Nature Computational Science, vol. 1 (2021)


Collaborative and creative communities are more equitable when all contributions to a project are acknowledged. Equitable communities are, in turn, more transparent, more accessible to newcomers, and more encouraging of innovation—hence we should foster these communities, starting with proper attribution of credit. However, to date, no standard and comprehensive contribution acknowledgement system exists in open source, not just for software development but for the broader ecosystems of conferences, organization and outreach, and technical knowledge. As a result, billions of dollars of corporate sponsorship and employee labor are invested in open source software projects without knowing whom the investments support and where they have impact. Further, both closed and open source projects are built on a complex web of open source dependencies, and we lack a nuanced understanding of who creates and maintains these projects.

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