An anthropologist’s view of an open source community

“In the first session of FUDCon talks this past weekend, Diana
Harrelson reported on her anthropological study of the Fedora
community, which she used to find ways to sustain and grow an open
source development community. She studied the group from the Fedora
12 launch through the Fedora 13 development cycle while she was a
master’s candidate at the University of North Texas. (She now has
that degree and is working towards a PhD in human computer
interaction.) Here’s are a few of her findings, much of which
certainly apply across open source communities, not just to

“What’s a community?

“Diana noted that while 75% of the survey respondents in the
study agreed that the contributors make up a community, she was
more curious what the other 25% thought. Mairin Duffy, a member of
the audience, suggested it might be that some think of Fedora “as
more of a distro than as a community first.” Someone else in the
audience asked Diana if she defined community for these questions.
She answered that the definition was up to the individual
respondent, and that she had also asked them each what their
definitions were. She also had some answers from that other

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