Open Source Development and behaviors – It pays to be nice!

Behavioral game theorists have long studied, how behaviors of open source developers, lead to either the success or failure of software projects, that are open source.  While amicable, courteous and teamwork have their benefits, these could also lead to groupthink and cause the team to overlook major flaws in design such as security flaws. Another school of thought has led to the belief that – a strong emergent leader from within the open source development community e.g. Linus Torvalds, or, Alan C Cox has helped shape the thinking and bring divergent views to a concur. Such concurrence – an equilibrium state of the system, has propelled many long-term projects to significantly leapfrog the competition and accrue immense value to society.

The birth of Bitcoin and its handing over to a group of diverse developers, by Satoshi Nakamoto,  has recently shown how decentralized decision making can potentially fail. For most of 2017 – what has played out on all major developer forums for Bitcoin, was an intense battle of minds. Groups of developers pushing their own versions of development systems to solve the scaling problem. Some of these agendas even led to a fork in the main network – creating a new coin altogether. Observers can argue that this fight has led to a sudden increase in value to the system.

The ecosystem and its core development team – despite having put in significant thought into each performance upgrade, has not been able to push forth its scaling agenda in the form of Segwit2X (or something similar). This despite the overarching commitment from the Consensus New York Agreement to roll out the performance upgrade.

I wish that 2018 will bring about a new structure to the development of open source crypto ecosystems, and,  some working mechanism by which sparring developers will not try to dominate each other. Eventually, being nice to each other and reaching an agreement will potentially propel software forward. There is an example in Linux, that has survived large challenges from many quarters and has survived for over 30 years now to become the world leading server operating system. Similarly, there is Apache and the group of developers led by the Apache foundation who have written and maintained world-beating software – year after year.