Membership dynamics and network stability in the open-source community: the ising perspective

TitleMembership dynamics and network stability in the open-source community: the ising perspective
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsOh, W, Jeon, S
Secondary TitleInternational Conference on Information Systems 2004
Keywordsemail, email archive, hypermail, linux, mailing list, membership, membership herding, newsgroup, open source, participants, social network analysis, stakeholders, team size

In this paper, we address the following two questions: (1)How does a participant’s membership decision affect the others (neighbors) with whom he has collaborated over an extended period of time in an open source software (OSS) network? (2) To what extent do network characteristics (i.e, size and connectivity) mediate the impact of external factors on the OSS participants’ dynamic membership decisions and hence the stability of the network? From the Ising perspective, we present fresh theoretical insight into the dynamic and reciprocal membership relations between OSS participants. We also performed simulations based on empirical data that were collected from two actual OSS communities. Some of the key findings include that (1) membership herding is highly present when the external force is weak, but decreases significantly when the force increases, (2) the propensity for membership herding is most likely to be seen in a large network with a random connectivity, and (3) for large networks, at low external force a random connectivity will perform better than a scale-free counterpart in terms of the network strength. However, as the temperature (external force) increases, the reverse phenomenon is observed. In addition, the scale-free connectivity appears to be less volatile than with the random connectivity in response to the increase in the temperature. We conclude with several implications that may be of significance to OSS stakeholders.


"simulations with the empirical network data that were collected from two actual OSS communities, Linux and Hypermail."

"we initially downloaded nearly 100,000 archived (between 1997 and 2003) LINUX Kernel and Hypermail newsgroup messages posted in a UNIX mailbox format"

"Specific information was obtained regarding the characteristics of these two OSS communities, including the size, the number of average connections per participant, and the hierarchy of each community."

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