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This paper outlines the motivations and methods for analyzing the developer network of open source software (OSS) projects. Previous work done by Hinds  suggested social network structure was instrumental towards the success of an OSS project, as measured by activity and output. The follow-up paper by Hinds  discovered that his hypotheses, based on social network theory and previous research on the importance of subgroup connectedness, were vastly different than the results of his study of over 100 successful OSS projects. He concluded that the social network structure had no significant effect on project success. We outline how his approach disregarded potentially important factors and through a new study evaluate the role of the OSS developer network as it pertains to long-term project popularity. We also present an initial investigation into the adequacy of using the SourceForge activity percentile as a long-term success metric. In contrast with Hinds, we show that previously existing developer-developer ties are an indicator of past and future project popularity.
Date of Conference: 5-8 Jan. 2010