First Monday can be a frustrating read some times, but I find almost every issue has at least one real gem like this.
Charles Schweik and Robert English have published this important look at the role of “institutions” in the sustainability of FOSS projects. It’s critical to note their notion of “institution” which in this context refers to the rules, norms and governance structures of a project. Kind of unsurprisingly, at least to me, they find that they fewer the hurdles to participation, the more contributions you get, but that projects do evolve additional “institutions” as they grow, though not as many as you might suspect.
Another small piece of the study is the report on the size (in developers) of projects hosted on sourceforge (cf. Table 1) whose data presumably came from the FLOSSmole project. Of the 93,702 total projects (as of April 2005) only 224 had greater than 25 developers, and only 1800 or so had more than 10. I say “only” which sounds dismissive but it’s not meant that way. Just that many of the smaller ones might leave you a bit risk exposed if you were to adopt them without one’s own development capabilities already identified. – SWL