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Communications of the ACM


It Takes a Community: The Open Source Challenge

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Credit: MarcoVector

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Of the many challenges faced by open source developers, among the most daunting are some that other programmers scarcely ever think about. And that's because most programmers work in settings where "other people" attend to such matters—people who work in the legal department or human resources, for example. But when there are not any people like that to turn to, what then?

Building a successful open source community depends on many different elements, some of which are familiar to any developer—a clear and present market opportunity, an intelligent approach, efficient coding, and so forth. Just as important are the skills to recruit, to inspire, to mentor, to manage, and to mediate disputes—all without the use of various forms of compensation to reward and provide incentives to contributors.


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