Motivation in FLOSS communities


Published on

Why contribute? “I did it for teh lulz” R. Stallman

Most of Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) developers are not paid to contribute, so why do they work anyway? In this talk, we’ll investigate the motivations of individual contributors. We’ll put them in perspective with recent studies on motivations and communities of practice. In particular, we’ll see that distinguishing internal vs external incentives is a key to understand why FOSS communities are able to attract and keep contributors around the production of a software…

Presented at
Dec 6, 2012

Published in: Technology
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Motivation in FLOSS communities

  1. Motivations in FLOSS communities (aka the Chocolate talk)Sébastien Heymann - Gephi Consortium
  2. Some words about me...Community manager of the Gephi project.I democratize network thinking.PhD candidate in complex networks @LIP6.I love chocolates too :)
  3. Motivations in studying motivationsWho would be likely to contribute to myproject?How to attract skilled developers?Who is worth the time spent?What win-win deals can we make?
  4. "In many ways, I actually think the real idea of open source is for it to allow everybody to be selfish, not about trying to get everybody to contribute to some common good. [...]Now, those selfish reasons by no means need to be about financial reward, though."Interview of L. Torvalds for the BBC, June 2012
  5. "When I started making a living writing add-ons and other Mozilla software, I felt I needed to give something back [...]. So there werealtruistic and selfish reasons mixed together." Interview of B. King (Mozilla volunteer) by Tristan Nitot, Dec 2012
  6. Plan: beyond altruism vs selfishness1. Why motivation matters?2. Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.3. Why care about intrinsic motivation?4. Open questions.
  7. 3. Why motivation matters? image: The Big Lebowski
  8. Key issues in FLOSS communitiesFast evolution! need for creativity.Contributors are not paid most of the time.Contributions based on free will.Willingness to cooperate.
  9. Contributors?People who:● develop● communicate● manage● use and spread the word● ...
  10. Why contribute for FREE?for glory? for White Russians? for t3h lulz? :) What about you?
  11. What about them? R. Stallman L. Torvalds
  12. For personal values "I refuse to break solidarity with other users. [...] So that I can continue to use computers without dishonor, I have decided to put together a sufficient body of free software..." The GNU Manifesto [online], 1985 R. Stallman
  13. For social status"I have enough recognition that Ifeel good about myself, that Iknow that what Im doing isactually meaningful to people." Linux Manifesto [online], 1998 L. Torvalds
  14. dude, come on2. Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation image:
  15. Motivation: what makes [a dude] engaged for something. (Deci & Ryan, 1985)
  16. Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivationIntrinsic motivation:Something is "valued for its own sake andappears to be self sustained".(Calder & Straw, 1975)Extrinsic motivation:Something is perceived as an investment.(Deci & Ryan, 1985)
  17. Some intrinsic incentivesFeeling of being skilled and being proud ofsomething.Joy to give and be useful.Aesthetic/creative pleasure.To satisfy some personal values, like freedom.
  18. Some extrinsic (positive) incentivesMoney, rewards.Source code for personal needs.Positive feedbacks.Social status / reputation.
  19. 3. Why care about intrinsicmotivation?
  20. People with high intrinsic motivations are great contributors.
  21. "People for whom [the pure artisticsatisfaction of designing beautiful software and making it work] is not a significantmotivation never become hackers in the first place, just as people who dont love music never become composers."- Homesteading the Noosphere, chap.7, 2000 E. Raymond
  22. Benefits of intrinsic motivationsBetter creativity.Faster learning.Increased autonomy of contributors.Better code.
  23. FLOSS communities: we may not have oil, but we have intrinsic motivation.
  24. How to get intrinsic motivations high?Take care of contributors:● autonomy,● emotional attachment (to the project),● skills evolution.
  25. How to get intrinsic motivations high?Take care of contributors:● autonomy,● emotional attachment (to the project),● skills evolution.Intrinsic motivation increases when one:● feels that he/she has the control,● and receives positive, detailed feedback.
  26. "Individuals join for various reasons,and no one reason tends to dominate the community." (Lakhani & Wolf, 2003) Why not increasing both types of motivation?
  27. "Hidden costs of rewards" Increase of extrinsic motivations => Increase of the feeling of external control => decrease of intrinsic motivations Lepper & Greene, 1978
  28. "Hidden costs of rewards" Increase of extrinsic motivations => Increase of the feeling of external control => decrease of intrinsic motivations Lepper & Greene, 1978/! hybrid communitiesIf some people are paid to contribute, the motivation ofthe other people may decrease.
  29. Contributors come with various reasons. Taking care of intrinsic incentives seems to be a key to improve contributions. A good balance may be hard to reach: critical issue for open source business ecosystems.Conclusion: good communities aremotivation dealers.
  30. 3 open questionsHow to better understand the motivations ofFLOSS contributors?How motivations evolvealong the way?Can we extract someadvices for FLOSS communitymanagement?
  31. Some referencesCommunautés de Logiciel Libre : écosystème des motivations, S. Heymann,2009 [PDF].The self perception of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, Calder B. & Straw B., inJournal of Personality and Social Psychology, n°31, pp.599-605, 1975.Intrinsic motivation in a new light, Lindenberg S., in Kylos, n°54 pp.317-342,2001.Le logiciel libre et la communauté autorégulée, Meyer M. & Montagne F., in Lescarnets du centre de philosophie du Droit, n°113, 2005.Intrinsic motivation and self-determination of behavior, Deci E. & Ryan R.,Plenum Press, New York, 1985.Linux Manifesto [online], 1998.Les motivations des développeurs dans l’Open Source Une revue de lalittérature, Jean-Jacques Gauguier, 2005 [PDF].Lakhani K. & Wolf R., Why hackers do what they do : Understanding motivationeffort in free/open source software projects, MIT Sloan School of Management(2003), no. 4425-03.
  32. CreditsSlide 1: Chocolates, by J. Paxon Reyes, under CC by-nc 2.0.Slide 2: Screenshot of Gephi 0.7.Slide 6: Image from The Big Lebowski, 1998.Slide 9: Dude Vinci, by Colin Cotterill, from 10, 11: Richard Stallman gives a talk on Free Software and Copyright lawat The University of Pittsburgh, by Victor Powell, under CC by-sa 3.0.Slide 10, 12: Linus Torvalds,, under CC by-sa 3.0.Slide 13: 18: Focus Shift, 2008.Slide 28: Chocolate mocha, by Debbie R, under CC by-nc-nd 2.0.