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Participation in Free and Open Source Communities: An Empirical Study of Community Members’ Perceptions

Schofield, AJ and Cooper, GS (2006) Participation in Free and Open Source Communities: An Empirical Study of Community Members’ Perceptions. IFIP - International Federation for Information Processing, 203. ISSN 1571-5736

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Abstract

Although the defining factors of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) are generally seen as the availability and accessibility of the source code, it is what these facilitate that is perhaps of more significance. Source code availability allows the sharing of code, skills, knowledge, and effort, focused on a particular piece of software under development. The result of this is the FOSS community, which although often perceived as a single group, is actually many small groups, each bound by a common interest in a particular piece of software and using the Internet as a communication medium. Although there have been studies focusing on the motivation of FOSS developers to contribute to software, there has been little investigation into the motives, attitudes, and the culture within the communities as a whole. There is much more to most of these communities than software development. Many also have extensive support networks for the use of software, portals for research, and social facilities. This paper describes the results of an investigation into how FOSS community members perceive the communities that they belong to, their reasons for being in the community, and the manner in which they participate.

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