By Christian Bird, David Pattison, Raissa D’Souza, Vladimir Filkov, and Premkumar Devanbu

Published in SIGSOFT ’08/FSE-16: Proceedings of the 16th ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering

Commercial software project managers design project organizational structure carefully, mindful of available skills, division of labour, geographical boundaries, etc. These organizational”cathedrals” are to be contrasted with the “bazaar-like” nature ofOpen Source Software (OSS) Projects, which have no pre-designedorganizational structure. Any structure that exists is dynamic, self-organizing, latent, and usually not explicitly stated. Still, in large, complex, successful, OSS projects, we do expect that subcommunities will formspontaneously within the developer teams. Studying thesesubcommunities, and their behavior can shed light on how successfulOSS projects self-organize. This phenomenon could well hold importantlessons for how commercial software teams might be organized. Buildingon known well-established techniques for detecting community structurein complex networks, we extract and study latent subcommunities fromthe email social network of several projects: Apache HTTPD, Python, PostgresSQL, Perl, and Apache ANT. We then validate them with softwaredevelopment activity history. Our results show that subcommunities doindeed spontaneously arise within these projects as the projectsevolve. These subcommunities manifest most strongly in technicaldiscussions, and are significantly connected with collaborationbehaviour.


  author = {Christian Bird and David Pattison and Raissa D'Souza and Vladimir
	Filkov and Premkumar Devanbu},
  title = {{Latent Social Structure in Open Source Projects} },
  booktitle = {SIGSOFT '08/FSE-16: Proceedings of the 16th ACM SIGSOFT Symposium
	on Foundations of Software Engineering},
  year = {2008},
  publisher = {ACM},
  location = {Atlanta, Georgia, USA}

Latent Social Structure in Open Source Projects