Developers, Quality Control and Download Volume in Open Source Software (OSS) Projects

TitleDevelopers, Quality Control and Download Volume in Open Source Software (OSS) Projects
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsHill, G, Datta, P, Vander Weerdt, C
Secondary TitleJournal of Organizational and End User Computing
Pagination43 - 66
Date Published04/2017
ISSN Number1546-5012

The open-source software (OSS) movement is often analogized as a commons, where products are developed by and consumed in an open community. However, does a larger commons automatically beget success or does the phenomenon fall prey to the tragedy of the commons? This research forwards and empirically investigates the curvilinear relationship between developers and OSS project quality and a project's download volume. Using segmented regression on over 12,000 SourceForge OSS projects, findings suggest an inflection point in the number of contributing developers on download volume – suggesting increasing and diminishing returns to scale from adding developers to OSS projects. Findings support the economic principle of the tragedy of the commons, a concept where an over-allocated (large number) of developers, even in an open-source environment, can lead to resource mismanagement and reduce the benefit of a public good, i.e. the OSS project.

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