[Chicago] GitHub & SpamBayes

Pallavi Anderson pkaushik at alum.mit.edu
Tue Feb 5 17:37:54 CET 2013

> The answer is between yes and no, siding towards no. If no one has
> actively been contributing to it for years, Github isn't going to be
> the silver bullet that has people jumping out from behind bushes to
> contribute.

My experience has been 'No.'

Sheila and I worked together on an app competition project about two years
ago, that got a fair bit of media buzz, and promotion from the City.

One challenge while we were working on it was that other contributors not
familiar with git / github preferred to send me zip files of changes they
made, and I was left with the task of manually merging changes. At the time
we had a tough, immovable deadline, so any contribution helped and it
wasn't worth trying to "retrain" anyone.

After the deadline, we published the code under the most liberal CC
license, no attribution required. We have also been available to talk to
people about the code, what is good / bad / ugly, and what needs to be done
at minimum to get things up and running. I've done sessions like this a
couple times, once on request of the City, but generally the barriers to
contribution are - no real users yet, no active developer community, no
business model or company behind it. In my opinion, all of these are
opportunities for someone enterprising.

Neither of the original developers want to turn it into a business. In my
case (and this is possibly true for others), my employment agreement
prevents me from continuing to work on it *especially* if it turns into a

Till date, nobody outside of the original team has contributed to the code.

I really think that the most common thing that happens to an open source
codebase anywhere is that it is ignored. Git and github marginally improve
the odds that it won't be ignored, but that's still the most likely
outcome. Just look at how many repos an average gthub user has. What % of
those are being contributed to by the community?

Now having said all that, I love git, I absolutely love github, and this
project was how I met Sheila and we became friends over the course of
working on it :)

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