What do people expect from working in the open?
Working in the open is a culture and way of thinking. It is exposing your work openly and not keeping it in a silo (at all). The general expectation that I have seen across many open source communities is that work, planning, meetings, and discussion are open to the public so anyone can observe the work being done.
What works, what doesn’t?
That is a difficult question because what works and what doesn’t is a personal questions and the answer is different for everyone. Some contributors and staff have different thresholds as to how open they are willing to work and for some the bar isn’t very high at all. Some individuals and entire teams neglect their obligation to work in the open.
Working in the open is binary: you are either open or not open. There is no half way and there is no giving it your best effort.
Just as an example: last year, myself and a number of other contributors and staff were advocating for IRC channels to be archived to increase openness and accountability. At the end of the day, there were people opposed to their conversations being logged and easily available to the entire world. IRC may be open but accessibility is an issue. By logging, more people would be able to observe much of the work teams do and in the end the decision was made to maintain silos. Notably other open source projects log their IRC channels because they are aware how even IRC can be a silo and discussions had there are not entirely open (they do not meet that binary open or closed they are somewhere in-between).
So this is my two cents and there is no one individual or team to blame here but we could do much better as a project. In order to do that, there needs to be top level accountability and courage from the top down to ensure that the project is really switching its work into that on (open) position.