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Understanding the nature of participation & coordination in open and gated source software development communities


This paper explores the motivations for participating in two open source communities, both the communities originated from the same corporate sponsor. The study is based on interviews and mailing list data, conference observation and on-line project documentation. The two projects represent two different kind of communities: ‘gated source’ communities and ‘open source’ communities. The difference between these two communities lies in following:

  • the open source community allows everybody to download, use , modify and distribute the code
  • the gated source community specifies the terms of the license and how decisions will be made in the community. Only those who agree to the license of the corporate sponsor can download, use and modify the code. Gated communities can involve the payment of royalties to the corporate sponsor and redistribution of the code is usually restricted.

The initial reason to get involved was a need to use the software for work purposes. In the long run the gated source community’s participants continued with their need to use the software whereas the open source community’s participant also found other reasons, especially it being a challenge and fun.

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