How Shallow is a Bug? Open Source Communities as Information Repositories and Solving Software Defects
38 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2009
Date Written: November 16, 2009
A central tenet of the open source software development methodology is that the community of users and developers is instrumental in improving the quality of software. I conceptualize open source communities as information repositories to understand how community members help in improving software quality. The information repository contains the accumulated experiences and encoded knowledge of a community that reflects the software architecture. I investigate how community members contribute to the development of this information repository and how the information repository influences the repair time of software defects. Using a 10-year longitudinal dataset from the Firefox community, I find empirical evidence that user contributions and comprehension of the information repository shorten the repair time of software defects. Increased comprehension of the information repository allows a community to offset detrimental effects of community churn.
Keywords: Open source community, software development, productivity, community dynamics, software quality, software bug
JEL Classification: D83, L15, L86, M10
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