Why Open Source Projects Fail

The article will be helpful for Open Source lovers and the businesses who depend on Open Source.Based on research studies and statistics,Cody Garver from Rackspace Hosting published this article in 2011.The link to article is: Why Open Source Projects Fail – Open source projects fail more often than they succeed. This doesn’t mean that open source projects are less successful than proprietary software projects, or that open source is not a good solution for businesses seeking to lower costs. On the contrary, Open source software is often the best solution for many different kinds of businesses and organizations. But, it does mean that open source presents to its users with some special considerations, risks and rewards.

The article will be helpful for Open Source lovers and the businesses who depend on Open Source.Based on research studies and statistics,Cody Garver from Rackspace Hosting published this article in 2011.The link to article is: Why Open Source Projects Fail – Open source projects fail more often than they succeed. This doesn’t mean that open source projects are less successful than proprietary software projects, or that open source is not a good solution for businesses seeking to lower costs. On the contrary, Open source software is often the best solution for many different kinds of businesses and organizations. But, it does mean that open source presents to its users with some special considerations, risks and rewards.

WHY DO OPEN SOURCE PROJECTS FAIL?

To answer the rst research question, we conducted a survey withthe developers of 414 open source projects with evidences of nolonger being under maintenance.3.1 Survey DesignThe survey questionnaire has three open-ended questions: (1) Whydid you stop maintaining the project? (2) Did you receive any fund-ing to maintain the project? (3) Do you have plans to reactivate theproject? We avoid asking the developers directly about the reasonsfor the project failures, because this question can lead to multipleinterpretations. For example, an abandoned project could have beenan outstanding learning experience to its developers. Therefore,they might not consider that it has failed. In Section 3.3, we detailthe criteria we followed to dene that a project has failed based onthe answers to the survey questions.Specically to the developers of the 542 repositories withoutcommits in the last year we added a rst survey question, askingthem to conrm that the projects are no longer being maintained.We also instructed them to only answer the remaining questions ifthey agree with this fact. We sent the questionnaire to the reposito-ries’ owners or to the project’s principal contributor, in the case ofrepositories owned by organizations. Using this criterion, we wereable to nd a public e-mail address of 425 developers on GitHub.However, 9 developers are the owners—or the main contributors—of two or more projects. In this case, we only sent one mail to thesedevelopers, referring to their rst project in number of stars, toavoid a perception of our mails as spam messages.We sent the questionnaire to 414 developers. After a period of20 days, we obtained 118 responses and 6 mails returned due tothe delivery problems, resulting in a response rate of 29%, whichis 118/(414−6). To preserve the respondents’ anonymity, we uselabels D1 to D118 to identify them. Furthermore, when quoting theiranswers we replace mentions to repositories and owners by [Project-Name] and [Project-Owner]. This is important because some answersinclude critical comments about developers or organizations.Finally, for some projects, we found answers to the rst sur-vey question (“Why did you stop maintaining the project?”) wheninspecting their READMEs. This happened with 36 projects, iden-tied by R1 to R36. As an example, we have the following README:Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to nd the time that I would liketo dedicate to this project. (R6)Therefore, for the rst survey question, we collected 154 answers(118 answers by e-mail and 36 answers from the projects’ README).We analyzed these answers using thematic analysis [10,33], a tech-nique for identifying and recording “themes” (i.e., patterns) in tex-tual documents. Thematic analysis involves the following steps: (1)initial reading of the answers, (2) generating a rst code for eachanswer, (3) searching for themes among the proposed codes, (4)reviewing the themes to nd opportunities for merging, and (5)dening and naming the nal themes. Steps (1) to (4) were per-formed independently by each of the paper’s authors. After this, asequence of meetings was held to resolve conicts and to assignthe nal themes (step 5).3.2 Survey ResultsThis section presents the answers to the survey questions. For the118 developers of systems with no commits in the last year,

Conclusion

Although open source projects can have a greater impact and be more beneficial to the community, they also have a number of challenges that need to be overcome.

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