“Sponsored projects,” in academic research, are projects initiated by an organization, commonly a commercial firm but sometimes a government agency.
Most research on open source focuses on community-found projects, examples include Apache or the Linux kernel. Less studied are the sponsored open source projects, such as OpenOffice.Org or MySQL. A potential third category are the projects who started out sponsored but are now in control of the community, for instance Mozilla’s Firefox.
Contrasting Community Building in Sponsored and Community Founded Open Source Projects finds the major challenges for sponsored projects concern:
- lack of modularity, a modular software design encourages participation as it is easier to find a spot to participate in
- spinout of code that is perceived to be for maintenance reasons as opposed to a partnership
- pre-emptive governance design may lead to questionibng of motives of the sponsoring organisation
- unclear boundary between commercial and community control
The same paper finds four roles for sponsors:
- provide code
- provide resources
- transfer of knowledge, information about the code and it’s background
- community leadership: managing leadership is the key obstacle in the creation of these communities