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Re: Help for OSS Survey

Hi James,

CCing the DPL and the debian-project mailing list, Anthony, fellow Debian
project members, i received a survey request from Chuck Wu, and since not a
week ago i suggested Anthony contact persons with such skills and interest,
and i was suggested to do so myself, i jumped on the occasion to get neutral
third parties to analyse the so called experiment.

On Fri, Dec 22, 2006 at 12:41:00PM -0700, Gerlach, James wrote:
> Sven,
> I am Dr. James Gerlach, Chuck Wu's PhD advisor.  When you responded to
> Chuck Wu's invitation to participate in his survey, he naturally
> forwarded your email to me.  
> The issue you raised is one we were interested in originally, over a
> year and a half a go.  We theorized that the involvement of paid OSS
> developers would negatively impact the involvement of volunteer OSS
> developers.  However, early analysis did not reveal a problem; but that
> appears to have changed.
> It should be possible to create a special version of Chuck's survey that
> would attempt to look at the impact of paid involvement on OSS
> developers.  We theorize the involvement of paid developers might have
> negatively impacted various motivational forces (including knowledge
> generation and other intrinsic/extrinsic motivators), commitment to OSS
> ideologies, effort, and intention to continue working on OSS.  I don't
> know if these are the kinds of impact you witnessed?  Also, we surveyed
> OSS developers (including Debian developers) over a year ago, so this
> data might serve as some sort of a baseline for comparison.
> A first step would be for Chuck and I to gain a better understanding of
> the situation that occurred.  I don't know if there is a report or a
> newsletter that would summarize the situation?  Any kind of description

There is to my knowledge no particular summary. There are various posts in
debian-project on this topic, which started around july/august i think.
Probably on other lists too (debian-devel most probably, and possibly
debian-private, but i am unsure if and how you could gain access to that
material, maybe others may comment about this, or maybe Anthony could ?

The latest thread started at :


I know there was recently a slashdot story too, which mentioned the missed
december 6 release deadline, and involved the events surrunding this

There are two sites which i know off, and which are related to this event :


There is also the position statement of Joerg Jaspert at :


Which also has links to other threads at the end, but this is all from memory,
and i probably miss many interesting material. Again, others could contribute
other link starting points.

Notice that this event also took place in the middle of various other highly
emotive flamewars (of which i was part of some).

> that would give us a starting point for better understanding the
> situation would be useful.  Also, you mentioned the possibility of
> gaining the cooperation of the Debian community to conduct the study
> (access to email, involved parties, etc.).  That support would be most
> useful.  Any ideas on how to solicit that support?  Contact person, etc?

I am forwarding this to the DPL and Debian-project, i am a bit unsure what the
right method is, but debian-project should be read by most people involved in
that event, so maybe it would be a good contact point. Debian-private could
also be if the discussion should not be publicly archived.

> I think your proposal has much merit and we are very interested in
> exploring it with you.  

Thanks, i think that debian will gain much by a neutral outsider analysis of
the situation, and as said, it is probably an interested research topic for
you :)


Sven Luther

--- Rest of the quoted mails below ---
> Thanks, Jim
> James Gerlach
> Professor of Information Systems
> University of Colorado -- Denver
> -----Original Message-----
> From: c1wu@ouray.cudenver.edu [mailto:c1wu@ouray.cudenver.edu] 
> Sent: Friday, December 22, 2006 3:09 AM
> To: Gerlach, James
> Subject: Fwd: Re: Help for OSS Survey
> Jim,
> A Debian's developer ask me if I am interested in a research topic 
> described as the followings. I am not sure whether it worths 
> investigating although it sounds interesting. I told the developter 
> that I would consult my academic advisor first.
> Chuck
> ----- Forwarded message from sven.luther@wanadoo.fr -----
>     Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2006 08:52:02 +0100
>     From: Sven Luther <sven.luther@wanadoo.fr>
> Reply-To: Sven Luther <sven.luther@wanadoo.fr>
> Subject: Re: Help for OSS Survey
>       To: Chuck Wu <c1wu@ouray.cudenver.edu>
> On Thu, Dec 21, 2006 at 06:01:24PM -0700, Chuck Wu wrote:
> > Dear Debian contributor,
> >
> > I am Chuck Wu, a PhD student at University of Colorado at Denver.
> > Currently, I am conducting research on open source software
> development
> > for my doctoral thesis.  You are selected for this study because of
> > your involvement in open source projects.  As an experienced
> developer,
> > your responses are essential to developing an understanding of this
> > issue.  My goal is to understand the reasons why OSS development is
> > successful and to identify ways to improve OSS experience for
> > developers.  Therefore, your help is much appreciated and
> acknowledged.
> >
> > This is a ONE TIME survey.  It will take you about 20 minutes to
> > complete it.  Please click on the following link
> > http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~jgerlach/OSSks.html to access the survey.
> > If there is anything I can do to assist you, please feel free to email
> > me.
> >
> > Please be assured that any information you provide will be used with
> > the strictest of confidence.  Your individual responses to the survey
> > will not be disclosed and will be reported as part of statistical
> Completion
> > of this survey implies informed consent.  Please contact the Human
> > Subjects Research Committee (HSRC) of University of Colorado at Denver
> > regarding your rights as a research subject.
> >
> > Thank you very much for your support of my research.
> Hi, ...
> I wonder if you would also be interested in something else, also related
> to
> debian and the OSS community, but maybe not directly to your ownresearch
> area.
> There was an event which happened in the second half of 2006, and which
> involved a payement of two debian developpers, in order to get the etch
> release out the door in a much quicker way. This lead to huge disputes
> and
> flamewars, and an "experiment" was set up involving an external entity
> called
> "dunc-tank". There is a problem though, as this was called an
> "experiment",
> but no real experimental protocol was set up, nor do i see any evidence
> that a
> real analysis will happen, which will mean that the whole experimental
> nature
> of this thing will be lost, and that any number of people will give
> their own
> interpretation, instead of having a study done by some neutral third
> party
> competent in doing such an analysis, which could maybe be your case ?
> If you are interested, or know someone else who is interested, i am sure
> that
> a study on the impact of money on an OSS project would be most
> interesting,
> and we have here an unique occasion, as well as ample material (numerous
> email
> exchange, maybe we could even give you access to the private material
> involving this issue), and a rather huge demgraphic base for a survey
> (over
> 1000 developpers, and various other would-be-maintainers and
> contributors),
> and it would also do a service to the OSS community you are using as
> experimental subjects in your survey :)
> Friendly,
> Sven Luther
> ----- End forwarded message -----
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