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# Interview protocol

## Briefing (rough script; may not be followed verbatim)

1. Thank you for coming!
1. Reminder: we are doing a study on how Free and Open Source (FOSS) digital infrastructure projects are conceptualized by both upstream maintainers and downstream users.
1. Participation is voluntary and you can withdraw at any time with no penalty. You do not need to answer any questions you do not want to answer.
1. Reminder: we are transcribing this conversation, and you can see the realtime transcript at [link].
1. Do you have any questions? (Answer any questions.)
1. Is it okay to start recording? That means we will save the transcript after this point - everything before this point will be deleted. (Wait for consent before continuing.)

## Initial prompt (1st interview)

The first interview prompt is designed to elicit background information about the participant’s role in the project and how they conceptualize FOSS project maintenance.

1. How would you describe your involvement in [Project]? How would you write a contributor bio if it was going to be ready by someone who isn’t a member of the project but who is familiar with other FOSS projects?
1. What does it mean for a FOSS project to be well-maintained and sustainable? There are a lot of different possible answers to this question; we’re interested in what you would personally say. (If needed: What are the things you would look for in a FOSS project to tell if it was well-maintained and sustainable or not? If you were to make a scorecard or checklist for that, what would the criteria be?)
1. Ok, let’s break that down into several elements together (work together to create a list of elements that make a FOSS project well-maintained and sustainable).
1. In [Project,] who is responsible for each of these elements?
1. How do you think [Project] is doing with respect to each of these elements? Why? How did it come to be this way?
1. What would it look like for [Project] to do better (or worse) with respect to each of these elements?
1. Do you think other people would have the same assessment as you did? Why or why not? (If participant is from upstream, ask specifically about downstream; if participant is from downstream, ask specifically about upstream.)

## Subsequent prompts (everything following the 1st interview)

_Note: For subsequent interviews, prompts will contain condensed and annotated versions of transcript portions that other subjects in the project have released under an open license. A hypothetical example is given below._

INTERVIEWER: I’m going to show you some excerpts from the interviews we’ve been collecting so far.

_The following is an example from a hypothetical prompt for ABBY, a (fictional) participant who has completed their first interview and is now doing one of the later interviews. BHANAVI and CORETTA are also (fictional) participants in this example, and some of their transcript excerpts appear in ABBY’s prompt. ABBY sees something like this:_

> ABBY: For me, a well-maintained project has to have good documentation. The code might be brilliant, but if nobody knows how to change it, it’s no good.
>
> BHANAVI: Documentation is extremely important. Someone has to be responsible to make sure it happens, so I would say there needs to be some kind of official role in the project to oversee documentation.
>
> CORETTA: I like what Bhanavi said about having not just documentation, but having people in place to oversee it. I think that also points to something that is really important from my point of view, which is valuing non-technical work.

_(Note that this is an abbreviated version, and the remixed prompt that ABBY sees would be longer and contain more excerpts, potentially from a larger number of study participants)_

INTERVIEWER: Do you have any thoughts or responses to what you’re seeing? (Allow participant to respond at length; probe for details, etc. as needed.)

_In the previous example, ABBY might respond something like this: “That’s an excellent point, I’d like to revise my list of criteria - Bhanavi is right, it’s not just whether documentation exists, it’s whether there is a formal role so someone makes sure that documentation continues to exists. But I’m not sure I agree with Coretta about valuing non-technical work being a requirement for sustainability; it’s important, but is it a requirement?”_

(Repeat for additional portions of the prompt as needed / as time allows.)

## Additional prompts for the final interview

These additional prompts are designed to elicit reflections about the experience of participating in the project.

1. What has it been like to participate in this research project?
1. What has surprised you the most about participating in this project?
1. If we were going to do this project again with other FOSS community members, possibly from other project communities, is there anything you would recommend changing about the way the interviews are done, or how the project is run in general?

## Open-licensing and closing (said at the end, regardless of interview)

Thanks, this is a good stopping point for this interview (or similar transitional phrase).

I'm going to assign copyright of this transcript to you, so you'll legally own it and it will all be under your control. (Send/sign/speak the first part of the copyright form; see “Copyright Transfer Prompt;” this transfers the copyright to the subject.)

You now own the rights to your transcript. I'll be sending you a copy soon, and you can look at it and see what, if anything, you’d like to change. I’m happy to make any edits you’d like. Are there any you can think of right now? (Wait for responses.)

When you’re ready to open license it, you can do that by sending me the second half of the copyright form with your information filled in. If you’re ready now, we can do that now and read it out loud over this transcript.

(If yes, do that now and then skip to the next question; if no, continue.) If you’d like more time to think and look it over, I can get back in touch - when would you like to be reminded?

Any questions? (Answer questions if there are any)

Thank you for participating!

(Set up next interview date, if needed)

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