Talk is Silver, Code is Gold? Beyond 'Object-Centric' Notions of Contribution in Peer Production

23 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2018

See all articles by David Rozas

David Rozas

Universidad Complutense de Madrid; University of Surrey - Department of Sociology

Nigel Gilbert

University of Surrey - Department of Sociology

Paul Hodkinson

University of Surrey - Department of Sociology

Samer Hassan

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM); Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: October 23, 2018

Abstract

Peer production communities are based on the collaboration of communities of people, mediated by the Internet, typically to create digital commons, as in Wikipedia or free software. The contribution activities around the creation of such commons (e.g. source code, articles or documentation) have been widely explored. However, other types of contribution whose focus of action is directed towards the community have remained significantly less visible (e.g. organisation of events or mentoring). This work challenges the notion of contribution in peer production through an in-depth qualitative study of a prominent "code-centric" example: the case of the free software project Drupal. Throughout the collaboration of more than a million participants, the Drupal project supports more than 2% of websites worldwide. Thus, this research (1) offers empirical evidence of the perception of "community-oriented" activities as contributions, (2) analyses their lack of visibility in the digital platforms of collaboration, and (3) draws on the concept of affective labour to show its relevance for the sustainability of peer production communities. Therefore, through the exploration of a complex and extreme "code-centric" case, this study aims to reconceptualise the notion of contribution in peer production communities, incorporating new kinds of contributions traditionally invisibilised. In this way, this work may open new avenues of research, enabling the study of contribution activities from a new perspective.

Keywords: affective labour, economy of contribution, Free/Libre Open Source Software, peer production, self-organisation, value

Suggested Citation

Rozas, David and Gilbert, Nigel and Hodkinson, Paul and Hassan, Samer, Talk is Silver, Code is Gold? Beyond 'Object-Centric' Notions of Contribution in Peer Production (October 23, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3272342 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3272342

David Rozas (Contact Author)

Universidad Complutense de Madrid ( email )

Faculty of Computer Science
C/ Profesor José García Santesmases 9
Madrid, Madrid 28040
Spain

University of Surrey - Department of Sociology

University of Surrey
Guildford, Surrey GU27XH
United Kingdom

Nigel Gilbert

University of Surrey - Department of Sociology ( email )

United States

Paul Hodkinson

University of Surrey - Department of Sociology ( email )

United States

Samer Hassan

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) ( email )

Facultad de Informática UCM
c/Profesor José García Santesmases, 9
Madrid, Madrid 28040
Spain

HOME PAGE: http://samer.hassan.name

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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