Participation in community-based free/libre open source software development tasks: the impact of task characteristics

Kangning Wei, Kevin Crowston, U. Yeliz Eseryel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper explores how task characteristics in terms of trigger type and task topic influence individual participation in community-based free/libre open source software (FLOSS) development by considering participation in individual tasks rather than entire projects. Design/methodology/approach: A quantitative study was designed using choose tasks that were carried out via the email discourse on the developers' email fora in five FLOSS projects. Choice process episodes were selected as the unit of analysis and were coded for the task trigger and topic. The impact of these factors on participation (i.e. the numbers of participants and messages) was assessed by regression. Findings: The results reveal differences in participation related to different task triggers and task topics. Further, the results suggest the mediating role of the number of participants in the relationships between task characteristics and the number of messages. The authors also speculate that project type serves as a boundary condition restricting the impacts of task characteristics on the number of participants and propose this relationship for future research. Research limitations/implications: Empirical support was provided to the important effects of different task characteristics on individual participation behaviors in FLOSS development tasks. Practical implications: The findings can help FLOSS participants understand participation patterns in different tasks and choose the types of tasks to attend to. Originality/value: This research explores the impact of task characteristics on participation in FLOSS development at the task level, while prior research on participation in FLOSS development has focused mainly on factors at the individual and/or project levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1202
Number of pages26
JournalInternet Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Free/libre open source software (FLOSS)
  • Participation
  • Task characteristics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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