COMMUNICATION TOOLS IN FLOSS COMMUNITIES
 A LOOK AT Arial 40ptCOMMUNITIES “AT LARGE”
 Title in Black - FLOSS
     - BEYOND...
Agenda



• Background
• Communication Tools in FLOSS (Free / Libre Open Source
Software) Communities
    • Point 1 Type T...
Background



                          The project behind: FLOSSCom


   FLOSSCom is a 2 years EU funded project with the...
Background



               Floss Communities as Learning Environments


         Why might FLOSS communities be seen as ...
Background



                         Learning in Floss Communities


     Informal / self-organized / problem based / pr...
Background



                                            Communities “at large”


         • Floss communities do not con...
Communication Tools



                               General Observations


      • Though all of the communities develop...
Communication Tools



       Point 1 Type: Knowledge development and sharing (1/2)


     • 94% of the communities had a ...
Communication Tools



        Point 1 Type: Knowledge development and sharing (2/2)

                                    ...
Communication Tools



             Point 2 Type: Relationship and trust building (1/5)


    • Point 2 type tools are in ...
Communication Tools



             Point 2 Type: Relationship and trust building (2/5)



      • In 79% of the cases inf...
Communication Tools



             Point 2 Type: Relationship and trust building (3/5)


                                ...
Communication Tools



             Point 2 Type: Relationship and trust building (4/5)

   • Calendars and polls appeared...
Communication Tools



             Point 2 Type: Relationship and trust building (5/5)



                               ...
Communication Tools



                               Excurse Forums (1/4)


     • Forums seemed to be the main tool for ...
Communication Tools


                      Excurse Forums (2/4)
Communication Tools


                      Excurse Forums (3/4)
Communication Tools


                      Excurse Forums (4/4)
Summary


                                      Summary (1/2)

    • Forums seem to be a centre of communication within th...
Summary


                                     Summary (2/2)


     • Information on other members’ contributions like pri...
Thank you
  for your attention!


A.Meiszner@open.ac.uk

  www.flosscom.net
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Communication tools in FLOSS communities

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This is a presentation held at the Web Based Community conference 2007 on the communication tools that are used within FLOSS communities.
Admittedly it neglects the aspect of mailing lists. A reason for this is that it focuses on the communities at large, and not on the narrower core team.

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Communication tools in FLOSS communities

  1. 1. COMMUNICATION TOOLS IN FLOSS COMMUNITIES A LOOK AT Arial 40ptCOMMUNITIES “AT LARGE” Title in Black - FLOSS - BEYOND THE DEVELOPMENT TEAM Andreas Meiszner Salamanca, February 2007
  2. 2. Agenda • Background • Communication Tools in FLOSS (Free / Libre Open Source Software) Communities • Point 1 Type Tools – Knowledge development and sharing • Point 2 Type Tools – Relationship and trust building • Excurse Forums • Summary
  3. 3. Background The project behind: FLOSSCom FLOSSCom is a 2 years EU funded project with the following objectives: I - To identify the factors that contribute to successful knowledge construction in informal learning communities, such as the FLOSS communities. II - To analyze the effectiveness of FLOSS-like learning communities in a formal educational setting. III - To provide case studies, scenarios and guidelines for teachers and decision-makers on how to successfully embed such learning communities within formal educational environments to enhance student progression, retention and achievement. IV - To evaluate the project and disseminate the results of the project to the wider community.
  4. 4. Background Floss Communities as Learning Environments Why might FLOSS communities be seen as a good case for (virtual) learning environments? • Open and inclusive ethos: everyone can participate, no charges, no deadlines, life long • Up to date content; everyone can add, edit and update the content • A large support network; provided voluntarily by the community member in a collaborative manner nearly 24/7 • Free Riders welcome – the more the better • New ICT solutions are adapted early by the community
  5. 5. Background Learning in Floss Communities Informal / self-organized / problem based / practice based / experiential / incidental / reflection-on-action / tacit knowledge transfer by observation, imitation, and practice / re-experience what others experienced before / enabling re-experience by decreasing complexity and transactive group memory / enabling re-experience by guidance, openness and legitimate peripheral participation / enabling re- experience by asynchronous communication and virtual experimentation / individual processes of learning and collective knowledge building / double-loop learning through social interaction and competent use of technologies
  6. 6. Background Communities “at large” • Floss communities do not consist only of the development team, and not every community member intends to become part of it • The largest group of Floss communities are the user, which might be learner too “at large” in numbers: • phpbb2: 49 core member and 299.485 registered user* • osCommerce: 16 core member and 127.749 registered user* • joomla: 20 core member and 88.343 user * English language user community only
  7. 7. Communication Tools General Observations • Though all of the communities develop software that provides a broad range of communication and information tools, the ones being actually used within these communities appeared to be rather narrow • This is also true for the 3 reviewed e-Learning communities • Although the e-Learning communities are aimed at producing state of the art virtual learning environments, providing a broad range of communication and collaboration tools, the forum seems still to be the centre of the communities themselves
  8. 8. Communication Tools Point 1 Type: Knowledge development and sharing (1/2) • 94% of the communities had a forum • The ones not using a forum were 4 out of the 5 wikis plus the social software Elgg. • 94% of the communities made a documentation tool available. • In all of the 51% of the communities that used a wiki, the wiki was also used for documentation purposes. • Wiki communities were also the only ones using discussion pages that could be found at 4 out of the 5 wiki communities. • Blogs were less frequently featured in only 34% of the communities and not all of the blog communities used blogs themselves (7 out of 13)
  9. 9. Communication Tools Point 1 Type: Knowledge development and sharing (2/2) Point 1 Type Tools n % Forum 75 93,8% Doku / KB 75 93,8% News (Flash) 68 85,0% Wiki 41 51,3% Latest News Various 40 50,0% Blog 27 33,8% Tags 5 6,3% Discussion page 4 5,0% Video / Podcasts 4 5,0% n = 80
  10. 10. Communication Tools Point 2 Type: Relationship and trust building (1/5) • Point 2 type tools are in most cases fully or to a high degree integrated into the members profile within the forum and only occasionally outside of the forum • Besides the 4 wikis without a forum, other types of communities provided generally more (or less) the same numbers of profile options • This might be due to the fact that the forum software used already provided a range of options “on board”, since... • Most of the communities that are not developing forum stand alone software seemed to use available third party forum solutions
  11. 11. Communication Tools Point 2 Type: Relationship and trust building (2/5) • In 79% of the cases information on the members latest posts, publications, or bloggings were provided • In 75% of the cases, members also had the option to provide information on their VOIP and messenger accounts – which appeared to be less often used • 46% of the communities allowed members to provide information on their interests or preferences, though again it seemed that this possibility was not that frequently used
  12. 12. Communication Tools Point 2 Type: Relationship and trust building (3/5) Point 2 Type Tools n % Profiles 76 95,0% Including: Members Roles / functions / Groups 66 82,5% Members publications, posts, etc 63 78,8% Members MSN, skype, chat, etc. information 60 75,0% Members preferences & interests 37 46,3% Geo Map 6 7,5% Buddy list 13 16,3% FOAF 2 2,5% My Tasks 1 1,3% Own(wiki)page 8 10,0% n = 80
  13. 13. Communication Tools Point 2 Type: Relationship and trust building (4/5) • Calendars and polls appeared to be generally less intensive used and the availability of the tools might be seen rather as an “add on” / “nice to have” • Integrated chat tools could be less frequently detected (19%), though many communities allowed members to provide information on e.g. personal IRC accounts within their profiles • The “who is online” tool could be found at 58% of the communities and in 3 (4%) communities this tool was combined with a “who sees what” tool allowing one to see what other members are currently doing • A “Buddy” tool was provided in 13 (16%) of the cases and a FOAF (Friend Of A Friend) tool in only 2 (2,5%) of the cases
  14. 14. Communication Tools Point 2 Type: Relationship and trust building (5/5) Other Point 2 Type Tools n % Calendar / Events 20 25,0% Chat 19 23,8% Polls 18 22,5% quot;who is onlinequot; 46 57,5% quot;who sees whatquot; 3 3,8% Shoutbox 8 10,0% n = 80
  15. 15. Communication Tools Excurse Forums (1/4) • Forums seemed to be the main tool for communication • For 67 communities (84%) the posts per day could be calculated ranging from 1 post per day to 1.260 • There seemed to be no correlation between the period the forum is online and the post per day • The most active community, Joomla, was only online for 410 days • Also the number of members does not seem to have a direct impact on the number of posts and threads per day (besides required critical mass)
  16. 16. Communication Tools Excurse Forums (2/4)
  17. 17. Communication Tools Excurse Forums (3/4)
  18. 18. Communication Tools Excurse Forums (4/4)
  19. 19. Summary Summary (1/2) • Forums seem to be a centre of communication within the FLOSS communities at large • Wikis seemed to be especially suitable for documentation purposes; hence in all of the cases where a wiki was present it was used for this purpose • Wikis seemed to substitute prior existent documentation tools • Blogs are still not that frequently present with only 1 out of 4 communities featuring them on their community site
  20. 20. Summary Summary (2/2) • Information on other members’ contributions like prior posts or blog entries seems to be valuable information (80%) • Buddy lists, friend of a friend functions, tagging, geo maps, and video / podcasts are still not that frequently used • Though these communities were building a broad range of tools, or integrating them into the software that they develop, they still do not seem to make use of it themselves
  21. 21. Thank you for your attention! A.Meiszner@open.ac.uk www.flosscom.net

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