Open Source Success Is About The People

An article was recently posted to (see summarizing a new scientific paper that revisits the reasons people contribute to free and open source software projects. The article highlights seven key findings:

  1. Intrinsic motivations play a key role.
  2. Reputation and career motivate more than payment.
  3. Social aspects have gained considerable importance since the 2000s.
  4. Motivation changes as people gain tenure.
  5. Scratching one's own itch is a doorway.
  6. Experience and age explain different motivations.
  7. Coders and non-coders report different motivations.

Contributors often initially participate in a FOSS project for their own use, to learn more, or for ideological reasons. What keeps them involved is that they are having fun with other kindred spirits and contributing to the greater good while at the same time increasing their reputation.
For our Apereo projects, we may want to look at ways of attracting new participants through emphasizing the learning opportunities of contributing to important, actively used projects where they can engage with friendly developers from across the world. To keep people interested in the long run, we should look at increasing the opportunities to regularly get together in an interactive way within our project or across the greater Apereo community. Also, along with the Apereo Fellows program, we should look for more ways to acknowledge the regular contributions of community members.
In the end, while it may be the software that we collectively focus on, it is the people that really make the Apereo projects and community successful.  

-- Jim Helwig