The Importance of Social Network Structure in the Open Source Software Developer Community

TitleThe Importance of Social Network Structure in the Open Source Software Developer Community
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsAntwerp, MV, Madey, G
Secondary Title2010 43rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
Pagination1 - 10
Place PublishedHonolulu, Hawaii, USA
ISBN Number978-1-4244-5509-6
Keywordsdevelopers, popularity, project success, social network analysis, sourceforge, srda

This paper outlines the motivations and methods for analyzing the developer network of open source software (OSS) projects. Previous work done by Hinds [5] suggested social network structure was instrumental towards the success of an OSS project, as measured by activity and output. The follow-up paper by Hinds [4] discovered that his hypotheses, based on social network theory and previous research on the importance of subgroup connectedness, were vastly different than the results of his study of over 100 successful OSS projects. He concluded that the social network structure had no significant effect on project success. We outline how his approach disregarded potentially important factors and through a new study evaluate the role of the OSS developer network as it pertains to long-term project popularity. We also present an initial investigation into the adequacy of using the SourceForge activity percentile as a long-term success metric. In contrast with Hinds, we show that previously existing developer-developer ties are an indicator of past and future project popularity.


"Using data from the SourceForge Research Data Archive [2, 9] and the new dataset of concurrent versions system (CVS) metadata described in [8]..." (M. Van Antwerp. Studying open source versioning metadata. Master’s thesis, University of NotreDame, Notre Dame, IN, January 2009)
"To measure long-term popularity, we used the SourceForge activity percentile."

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