What does it take to run a successful open-source project? Does leadership go to the best developer? To the smartest geek in the room? In other words, to everyone but me?
No, no, and yes, it turns out, as academic researchers Siobh?n O'Mahony and Fabrizio Ferraro recently published in the Academy of Management Journal Just as in off-line, non-developer communities, leadership within open-source communities falls on the shoulders of those who exercise it. Namely, those who care about a project as a community and nurture it, rather than those who simply write th best code within that community.
It is commonly believed that open source communities operate in a meritocratic manner: positions of authority are allocated according to merit. However, it is not clear whether merit in these communities means technical contributions or organization building. One developer, commenting on Debian's 2001 election for leadership, noted, "I have seen a lot of developers go from nobodies to being absolutely huge on the project." So, does a great code guarantee a great leadership position?… Read more