Evolution of Open Source Communities

TitleEvolution of Open Source Communities
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsWeiss, M, Moroiu, G, Zhao, P
Secondary TitleOSS2006: Open Source Systems (IFIP 2.13)
Pagination21 - 32
Keywordsapache, COMMUNITY, core, developers, email, email archives, mailing list, membership

The goal of this paper is to document the evolution of a portfolio of related open source communities over time. As a case study, we explore the subprojects of the Apache project, one of the largest and most visible open source projects. We extract the community structure from the mailing list data, and study how the subcommunities evolve, and are interrelated over time. Our analysis leads us to propose the following hypotheses about the growth of open source communities: (1) communities add new developers by a process of preferential attachment; (2) links between existing communities are also subject to preferential attachment; (3) developers will migrate between communities together with other collaborators; and (4) information flow follows project dependencies. In particular, we are concerned with the underlying factors that motivate the migration between communities, such as information flow, co-worker ties, and project dependencies.


"we took snapshots of its membership at regular intervals"
"we chose a one year period"
"we retrieve the list of core developers ordered by their number of inbound messages, as noted above."

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