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Announcing the release of "2016 DEBIAN PROJECT SURVEY: WORK AND VOLUNTEERS"

Hi everyone

I only subscribe to debian-project so not sure if this message will go to debian-publicity - if not, could a kind soul please forward to that list?

Many thanks,


We are delighted to announce the release of a report presenting the findings of the survey of the Debian project which was held a few years ago: '2016 Debian Project survey: Work and volunteers.'

You can download the report here: https://apo.org.au/node/315293

Foreword reproduced below FYI.


Mathieu O’Neil, Stefano Zacchiroli and Molly de Blanc

This survey of the Debian free and open source project was administered in 2016 by Molly de Blanc, Mathieu O’Neil, Mahin Raissi and Stefano Zacchiroli. There was great interest for the survey within the Debian community, and 1,479 people responded—an impressive turnout for surveys of this kind in the field. A ‘Preliminary report’ presenting some results was published in the tenth issue of the Journal of Peer Production in 2017.[1]

With Laure Muselli, O’Neil conducted follow-up interviews with Debian Developers in 2018, and an article focusing on the perception of paid work in Debian which combined some survey results with these interviews was published in 2020.[2]

However, these two academic publications are not well known within the Debian community. The primary aim of this new public report, 2016 Debian Project survey: Work and volunteers, is thus to give back to the Debian community: this is for you! This report is much more than a simple re-issue of the ‘Preliminary report’ published in the Journal of Peer Production in 2017. Many tables and figures were not previously included, findings are now systematically analysed, and the report has been professionally laid out.

The Debian survey held in 2016 marked the first stage of an inquiry into the relationship between volunteer work in free and open source software and broader dimensions of work and employment. This research program was given a boost when O’Neil, Muselli and Zacchiroli were awarded a Critical Digital Infrastructure Fund grant (2019-2020) by the Sloan and Ford Foundations to study the coproduction of free and open source software by projects and firms.[3]

Some results of our analysis of GitHub contribution networks, media representations of coproduction, and firm discourses about open source were released as a public report in June 2021.[4]

At the time of writing, more advanced results and conclusions are making their way through the academic peer review process. In addition, the Sloan and Ford Foundation grant helped to launch the Digital Commons Policy Council, a think tank for the digital commons. The DCPC aims to increase the recognition of the social benefits of the digital commons and of the volunteer labour which produces these common resources. To that end, we are planning to administer a follow-up Debian survey in 2022 on the broader societal recognition of volunteer work in free and open source software.

These steps towards building understanding and support for digital commons work grew out of the original Debian survey, and of the participation of survey respondents. Thank you!

[1] de Blanc, M., O’Neil, M., Raissi, M. & Zacchiroli, S. (2017) Preliminary report on the influence of capital in an ethical project: Quantitative data from the 2016 Debian Survey. In: O’Neil, M. & Zacchiroli, S. (Eds.) Journal of Peer Production # 10: WORK. http://peerproduction.net/issues/issue-10-peer-production-and-work/preliminary-report-debian-survey/
[2] O’Neil, M., Muselli, L., Raissi, M. & Zacchiroli, S. (2020) ‘Open Source has won and lost the war’: Justifying commercial-communal hybridisation in a FOSS project. New Media & Society 23(5): 1157-1180. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444820907022
[4] O’Neil, M., Cai. X, Muselli, L., M., Pailler, F. & Zacchiroli, S. (2021). The coproduction of open source software by volunteers and big tech firms. DCPC / News and Media Research Centre, University of Canberra. https://apo.org.au/node/312607

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