Understanding group maintenance behavior in Free/Libre Open-Source Software projects: The case of Fire and Gaim

Kangning Wei, Kevin G Crowston, Na Lina Li, Robert Heckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


In this paper, we investigate group maintenance behavior in community-based Free/Libre Open-Source Software (FLOSS) development teams. Adopting a sociolinguistic perspective, we conceptualize group maintenance behavior as interpersonal communication tactics - specifically, social presence and politeness tactics - that help maintain relationships among group members. Developer email messages were collected from two FLOSS projects with different development statuses, and their content was analyzed to identify frequently used group maintenance tactics. We then compared the group maintenance tactics used in the two projects, finding differences that reflect changes in the project work practices. Our work theoretically contributes to FLOSS research and has practical implications for FLOSS practitioners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-309
Number of pages13
JournalInformation and Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014



  • Group maintenance
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Open source software development
  • Politeness theory
  • Social presence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management

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