Toward an understanding of the motivation Open Source Software developers

TitleToward an understanding of the motivation Open Source Software developers
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsYe, Y, Kishida, K
Secondary TitleProceedings of the 25th International Conference on Software Engineering
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Place PublishedWashington, DC, USA
ISBN Number0-7695-1877-X
Keywordschange log, COMMUNITY, contributions, contributors, developers, email, email archives, evolution, gimp, log files, mailing list, roles, source code

An Open Source Software (OSS) project is unlikely to be successful unless there is an accompanied community that provides the platform for developers and users to collaborate. Members of such communities are volunteers whose motivation to participate and contribute is of essential importance to the success of OSS projects. In this paper, we aim to create an understanding of what motivates people to participate in OSS communities. We theorize that learning is one of the motivational forces. Our theory is grounded in the learning theory of Legitimate Peripheral Participation, and is supported by analyzing the social structure of OSS communities and the co-evolution between OSS systems and communities. We also discuss practical implications of our theory for creating and maintaining sustainable OSS communities as well as for software engineering research and education.


"Analyzing the emails sent to the mailing fist is one way of understanding the structure of the community."
"Table 2 displays the number of code contributions made by members to the GIMP system and the defined roles of those contributing members. We counted the number of contributions made by each person by analyzing the change log of the system."

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