Conventional wisdom, inspired in part by Eric Raymond, suggests that open source developers primarily develop software for developers like themselves. In our studies we distinguish between reflexive software (software written primarily for other developers) and irreflexive software (software written primarily for passive users). In the first study, we present four criteria which we then use to assess project reflexivity in SourceForge. These criteria are based on three specific indicators: intended audience, relevant topics, and supported operating systems. Based on our criteria, we find that 68% of SourceForge projects are reflexive (in the sense described by Raymond). In the second study, we randomly sample and statically estimate reflexivity within SourceForge. Our results support Raymond's assertions that 1) OSS projects tend to be reflexive and 2) reflexive OSS projects tend to be more successful than irreflexive projects. We also find a decrease in reflexivity from a high in 2001 to a low in 2011.
College and Department
Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Computer Science
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Foushee, Brandon D., "Prevalence of Reflexivity and Its Impact on Success in Open Source Software Development: An Empirical Study" (2013). Theses and Dissertations. 3570.
Eric Raymond, open source software, reflexivity, SourceForge, success factors