Building software, building community: lessons from the ROpenSci project

(This is a WSSSPE 2 proposed contribution, see


rOpenSci is a developer collective originally formed in 2011 by
graduate students and post-docs from ecology and evolutionary biology
to collaborate on building software tools to facilitate a more open
and synthetic approach in the face of transformative rise of large
and heterogeneous data. Born on the internet (the collective only
began through chance discussions over social media), we have grown
into a widely recognized effort that supports an ecosystem of some 45
software packages, engages scores of collaborators, has taught dozens
of workshops around the world, and has secured over $480,000 in grant
support. As young scientists working in an academic context largely
without direct support for our efforts, we have first hand experience
with most of the the technical and social challenges WSSSPE seeks to
address. In this paper we provide an experience report which focuses
on two elements: (a) our approach and success in building an effective
and diverse community and (b) an overview of our software development




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