Understanding knowledge sharing activities in free/open source software projects: An empirical study

TitleUnderstanding knowledge sharing activities in free/open source software projects: An empirical study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsSowe, SK, Stamelos, I, Angelis, L
Secondary TitleJournal of Systems and Software
Accession NumberWOS:000254709200010
Keywordsdebian, email, email archives, mailing list

Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) projects are people-oriented and knowledge intensive software development environments. Many researchers focused on mailing lists to study coding activities of software developers. How expert software developers interact with each other and with non-developers in the use of community products have received little attention. This paper discusses the altruistic sharing of knowledge between knowledge providers and knowledge seekers in the Developer and User mailing lists of the Debian project. We analyze the posting and replying activities of the participants by counting the number of email messages they posted to the lists and the number of replies they made to questions others posted. We found out that participants interact and share their knowledge a lot, their positing activity is fairly highly correlated with their replying activity, the characteristics of posting and replying activities are different for different kinds of lists, and the knowledge sharing activity of self-organizing Free/Open Source communities could best be explained in terms of what we called "Fractal Cubic Distribution" rather than the power-law distribution mostly reported in the literature. The paper also proposes what could be researched in knowledge sharing activities in F/OSS projects mailing list and for what purpose. The research findings add to ' our understanding of knowledge sharing activities in F/OSS projects. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Our study utilized data from the Debian project lists archives.... The Debian project hosts over 100 lists on all aspects related to the project. From the Debian lists archives (Debian Mailing Lists) we selected two high volume mailing lists. The following lists are analyzed in our study:
• Debian-user. This list is specifically dedicated to help and discussion among users of Debian who speak English. • Debian-devel. This list is specifically dedicated to discus-
sion about technical development topics.
Our data collection period for both lists was from January 2000 to December 2005. We obtained archived mbox files of the two lists. Each file is a single text file containing one month of archived email messages. Every email message has a unique message-id, together with other identification fields defined by the Internet Message Format (RFC) 2822 (Internet Message Format, 2001)."

Full Text
PDF icon JSS.pdf952.92 KB
Taxonomy upgrade extras: