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Understanding the Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) Development Process: An Agent-Based Model

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Radtke, N.P.; Janssen, Marco A.; Collofello, J.S.
Conference: Capturing the Complexity of the Commons, North American Regional Meeting of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Conf. Date: Sep. 30-Oct. 2
Date: 2010
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6557
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Subject(s): FLOSS
open access
agent-based computational economics
Abstract: "Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) is the product of volunteers collaborating to build software in the public domain. The large number of FLOSS projects, combined with the data that is inherently archived with this online process, make studying this phenomenon attractive. Some FLOSS projects are very functional, well-known, and successful, such as Linux, the Apache web server, and Firefox. However, for every successful FLOSS project there may be 100’s of projects that are unsuccessful. These projects fail to attract sufficient interest from developers and users and become inactive or abandoned before useful functionality is achieved. The goal of this research is to better understand the open source development process and gain insight into why some FLOSS projects succeed while others fail. This paper presents a simple agent-based model of the FLOSS development process. In the model agents, as either developers or users, select from a landscape of FLOSS projects to be involved in. Via the selections that are made, and subsequent contributions, some projects are propelled to success while others are stagnant and inactive. The model is able to reproduce key characteristics observed in empirical FLOSS data and offers insight into how developers select FLOSS projects, ultimately causing certain projects to flourish while others are abandoned."

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