Open Source is poorly funded

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

With a few exceptions, Open Source is starved for resources:

Why should open source software development require “huge sacrifices?”
But why have “huge sacrifices” been necessary to produce and maintain these projects? And why are sustainable funding and resources so difficult to come by?

The answers to these questions touch upon a host of challenges related to open source software development in general: burnout, overwork generated by the tragedy of the commons, and the mistaken notion that critical open source work can be sustainably produced on an all-volunteer basis.

NumFOCUS has identified three primary challenges to sustainability for open source projects in scientific computing:
1) Lack of funding mechanisms to support the ongoing maintenance and improvement of existing software
2) institutional barriers to the development of software as a research endeavor, and
3) the hindrance to academic career advancement for those who develop and support research software.
NumFOCUS recently contributed a submission in response to the NSF Dear Colleague Letter: Request for Information on Future Needs for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure to Support Science and Engineering Research (NSF CI 2030) that outlines these three challenges in depth. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting a blog series exploring these challenges in more detail.

The Looming Crisis in Scientific Computing
The problem of sustainability for open source scientific software projects is significant. Arguably, it affects the whole of contemporary scientific inquiry, insofar as that inquiry requires software tools that promote reproducible results (i.e. open source).

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