An Introduction to Open Source Communities
Eugene Eric Kim
This report describes what open source communities are and how they work. In particular, it addresses the following questions:
- What is the open source landscape as a whole? How many projects exist, what kinds of software do these projects develop, and how many people are involved with these projects?
- What are the demographics of those who participate in these communities? Why do they join, and how long do they stay? How do they interact with each other?
- How do open source communities work? What are the patterns of collaboration within successful open source communities?
In examining these questions, this report discusses existing, relevant research, and presents original case studies of two open source projects: TouchGraph and SquirrelMail. It identifies some patterns of collaboration that both of these projects share, and describes how these patterns might apply to other types of communities. Finally, it reviews what is not yet well understood about open source communities, and proposes several paths for further research.
This report was sponsored by the Omidyar Foundation.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.