Saturday, August 03, 2002

Cave or Community

"Of the top 100, 70 were individuals or very small groups (typically pairs). These individuals accounted for 46.1 percent of the code and 50.4 percent of projects. One individual had contributed to 267 projects."

"Similarly, previous authors have identified the strong hand of the leader of an OSS program. Moon and Sproull refer to Linus Torvalds as a "great man". Others have pointed out that Torvalds essentially did not have a life and spent considerable number of hours rewriting code submissions by others."

My most recent experience with an Open Source project is having my patches ignored by the author. Then only to see it reimplemented by him. With my own, small project, it has basically been me as the contributor. However, I've always offered help to understand and to contribute to the project. I can't imagine ignoring a patch (especially if it was for the Disk Scheduler or something as someone is working on). I've had patches accepted by the Jena group. They weren't earth shattering (total of up to 5 lines of code). But they were functional and met features that I needed. The people at Jena could've rewrote it but it was a waste of time. The ramp up to get someone productive on a project is considerable even if the goal (as in mine project) is to make the code as easy to understand as possible. The more that are familiar with the code the more likely the code will grow and get better.

I'm not the best coder - my patches could've been lame or crap. I can't be objective about my own code but from what I've seen happen to others in other projects is that good patches can go to waste. Most of the time this is just from people not understanding the original code or the patch.

The reasons why people contribute to OS according to the article is:
1. To take part in an intellectually stimulating project.
2. To improve their skill.
3. To take the opportunity to work with open-source code.
4. Non-work functionality.
5. Work-related functionality.

On taking up OS projects (especially for work) there's considerable risk involved when it's just one contributor. There maybe a very good reason why there is only one.
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