DigitalOcean Survey Explores the Impact of 2020 on Open Source

New report highlights participation shifts, economic impacts and other social constructs behind open source communities

NEW YORK, February 4, 2021 – DigitalOcean, the cloud for developers, startups, and SMBs, today announced the results of its latest Currents report, which surveys developers and entrepreneurs on the latest trends in technology. Of the more than 9,500 developers surveyed, the report focused on the 4,440 responses of those who actively participated in open source throughout 2020. The survey revealed the role that open source played in the lives of its members in what was a year unlike any other, and explored whether the core tenets of open source – “free” and “open” – still hold today.

"There's no denying that technology played a major role in 2020. However, what we found most inspiring was how the individuals and community behind the code rose to the occasion," said Raman Sharma, VP Product and Programs Marketing at DigitalOcean. "Our survey showed that developers dug deeper into the open source community, participating more actively and contributing to the causes that mattered to them most. Many also questioned the traditions of the past in favor of a more ethically accountable and economically sound ecosystem. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for the community and its participants."

Key findings of the report include:

The pandemic impacted participation and the community

  • While overall participation in open source was down in 2020, 63% of those who actively participated reported an increase in their activity.
  • According to those respondents, the increase can be attributed to three factors:
    - 29% had “more free time”
    - 28% wanted to “use the time to learn”
    - 15% were “adamant about contributing to a cause they cared about”
  • Respondents reported an increased focus on mental health, inclusivity, networking to help others find new jobs and mentoring to help others learn.
  • 29% are helping community members learn and develop their skills.
    - This while 17% are contributing to mission-oriented projects, such as those focused on pandemic relief or social issues.

Respondents believe individuals should be paid for open source contributions, but few actually are being compensated

  • 54% of respondents feel that individuals should be paid for their work with open source. Meanwhile, only 14% of respondents are currently paid for their open source contributions.
  • Developers in different age ranges vary on whether individuals should be paid for their contributions to open source, with those between the ages of 18-25 being overly in favor (60%), while only 34% of those above 55 years of age agreed.
  • About half of respondents (47%) think tech companies should fund the payment of open source contributions, while a quarter (25%) believe project owners or individuals should pay.

Community Inclusivity and Code Restrictions

  • 59% of respondents believe open source is inclusive to people of all demographics, experience levels and locations.
  • However, respondents who are women, non-binary, or caregivers reported lower levels of inclusivity
    - 62% of men agree or strongly agree that the community is inclusive, versus only 46% of women and 42% of non-binary respondents feeling that way.
    - 54% of caregivers agree or strongly agree that the community is inclusive versus 64% of non-caregivers.
  • While most individuals were against allowing restrictions for the use of open source code (47%), more than half of respondents wanted to allow restrictions (34%) or were undecided (19%).

Read or download the full report here: https://www.digitalocean.com/currents/february-2021/  

About DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean simplifies cloud computing so developers and businesses can spend more time building software that changes the world. With its mission-critical infrastructure and fully managed offerings, DigitalOcean helps developers, startups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) rapidly build, deploy and scale applications to accelerate innovation and increase productivity and agility. DigitalOcean combines the power of simplicity, community, open source, and customer support, so customers can spend less time managing their infrastructure and more time building innovative applications that drive business growth. For more information, visit digitalocean.com or follow @digitalocean on Twitter.