University of Texas at Dallas professor Cuihua Shen has led a study of SourceForge, the Internet's largest open source community, using social network analysis to test social drivers that shape collaboration dynamics among users.
The study found that users in online communities choose which users to interact with, and those choices reveal the motivations and processes that create collective networks. "Taken together, we found that accomplished developers tend to connect with other accomplished developers, essentially forming an elitist circle in the [open source software] community," Shen says. "By contrast, it is more difficult for less successful developers to establish collaborative relations, and even if they do, they tend to connect with others who have a similar lower level of performance and experience."
The researchers hope the study can lead to new discoveries in the social network analysis field. "By conceptualizing an online community as a network of participants and examining the formation of social ties, this research demonstrates that social network analysis can be a useful approach to studying the dynamics of online social systems," Shen says.
From UT Dallas News
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