WSSSPE2: Patching It Up, Pulling It Forward

<p>An important reason for making software open source is to encourage contributions that result in diverse developer communities coalescing around valuable software efforts. Free and open source licensing is popular in scientific and cyberinfrastructure software, and Web-based tools for source code management (such as GitHub, SourceForge, Google Code, and Bitbucket) are in common use, but community building efforts need improvement. We propose here a simple mechanism to solve this problem: developers should be given incentives to submit patches and to make other measurable contributions to code bases that they use but are not otherwise paid to develop, and projects should be given incentives to accept these outside contributions. The goal is to change the mindset of cyberinfrastructure developers, converting them from passive downstream users to active contributors. We hypothesize that this easily measurable concrete action will contribute to the sustainability of many projects and also create a more flexible workforce. Building this effort on currently available, public tools will establish a foundation of public data that can be used to verify our hypothesis.</p>