One thing that’s not particularly documented is that the package website does not include “stargazer” information on purpose. The theory is that the rankings should reward quality of API and docs, whereas “stargazers” is very very easily gamed by getting your README on Hacker News. So in my opinion, it is mostly a measure of how good you are at online advertising and social media, and things can have tons of stars with lots of technical weaknesses.
And once you start thinking that “stargazers” is a measure of success, you start to get a culture that is more about the presentation than the actual technical details. This isn’t to say that presentation does not matter. Only that rewarding social media skills over quality has effects on quality overall.
I saw a note from @mfeineis along these lines in the #elm-community channel on slack recently. I haven’t looked into the paper, but I reproduced his comment here:
https://arxiv.org/pdf/1811.07643.pdf A paper on how Github stars are actually used in the wild, very interesting. It’s kind of shocking how much influence active promotion has on gaining stars but I guess we already knew that beforehand. Looking at the conclusion it’s sad that GH stars seem to be all about marketing…
Recommendation #1: Stars are a key metric about the evolution of GitHub projects; therefore, project managers should track and compare the number of stars of their projects with competitor ones.
Recommendation #2: Open source projects require an investment on marketing and advertisement, mainly in social networks and programming forums, like Hacker News.
Recommendation #3: When selecting projects by number of stars, practitioners and researchers should check whether the stars are not concentrated in a short time period or whether they are mostly a consequence of active promotion in social media sites
Their tool has some interesting graphs http://gittrends.io/
I think it’d be a shame if this is how people focused their energy within the Elm community. And that “the natural process” rewarded people who are specialized in “good at twitter” and such.
This kind of “influencer culture” is really common these days. It’s obvious on Instagram and YouTube, but it’s also pretty big in the JS world as well. Drama gets rewarded. Competing for sub-count gets rewarded. Daily uploads gets rewarded. But are these correlated with quality?
Anyway, that’s why I try to rank based on metrics that are more aligned with community participation. Those things are harder to measure, and it’s definitely not perfect either, but I think it’s worth fighting for incentive systems that reward mentorship, teaching, sharing knowledge in meetups, etc. (rather than rewarding inflammatory blogging/tweeting skills)