Environments for decentralized on-line collaboration are now widespread on the Web, underpinning open-source efforts, knowledge creation sites including Wikipedia, and other experiments in joint production. When a distributed group works together in such a setting, the mechanisms they use for coordination can play an important role in the effectiveness of the group’s performance. Here we consider the trade-offs inherent in coordination in these on-line settings, balancing the benefits to collaboration with the cost in effort that could be spent in other ways. We consider two diverse domains that each contain a wide range of collaborations taking place simultaneously — Wikipedia and GitHub — allowing us to study how coordination varies across different projects. We analyze trade-offs in coordina- tion along two main dimensions, finding similar effects in both our domains of study: first we show that, in aggregate, high-status projects on these sites manage the coordination trade-off at a different level than typical projects; and second, we show that projects use a different balance of coordination when they are “crowded,” with relatively small size but many participants. We also develop a stylized theoretical model for the cost-benefit trade-off inherent in coordination and show that it qualitatively matches the trade-offs we observe between crowdedness and coordination.