Method diffusion in large open-source projects

I'm an alien, I'm a computer scientist in the world of sociology

Martin F. Krafft <>

DebConf 7, Edinburgh, Scotland 21 Jun 2007

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Method diffusion in large open-source projects
technique, tool, procedure
introducing with the goal to cause adoption
large project
possessing a high inertia and complex self-dynamics

Research basis


There exist characteristics of innovations and strategic considerations of their diffusions which directly affect the rate of adoption in volunteer projects

Knowledge of these characteristics enables engineered diffusions to improve efficiency of cooperation

Research approach

two-phased approach:

Phase 1: guideline definition

Phase 1


The "guidelines" highlight those traits of a diffusion, which have the highest impact on adoption rate.

Phase 2: implementation

Phase 2


Conceptual framework

Framework example: Rogers' diffusions of innovations

relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, verifiability, visibility
hard vs. soft information, mass vs. interpersonal medium, homophily
social system
structure, communication arrangement, social norms, opinion leaders, types of decisions
desirability, direct vs. indirect, anticipated vs. unexpected

Problems with classical diffusion frameworks

thus have to design my own framework, cherry picking from others

very time-consuming

Ideas for OSS-specific factors

The adoption process

According to Rogers:

S-shaped curve of adoption speed, success defined by steepness of gradient

Adoptions in Debian


Engineering for success

Implications on management

Thank you

Thank you for your attention!


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