Homework Assignment Week 7: Peer Production and Open Sourcing

The first article by Michael Zhang and Feng Zhu looked at the causal relationship between group size and incentives to contribute to public goods, namely digital goods. They did a study based on Chinese Wikipedia and how the blocking efforts from mainland China affected the number of contributions to the site. Chinese Wikipedia’s community is composed of Chinese speakers around the world, with the majority of the community from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. In October 2005, when mainland China blocked Chinese Wikipedia from its citizens for about a year, non-blocked contributors of Chinese Wikipedia decreased their contributions by 42.8% on average. Thus, the authors concluded that there is a positive relationship between group size and contribution levels. In contrast to the free-rider hypothesis, contributors to public goods such as Wikipedia oftentimes receive private benefits because of social effects (Zhang & Zhu, 2011).

The second article by J. Hyatt examines MySQL’s open-source innovation lead by CEO Marten Mickos. MySQL uses open source innovation by sharing its source code for free. This gives programmers around the world access to debug or add features to MySQL. Their community of 12 million programmers receives very little reward for their contributions. According to Mickos, the four main reasons for programmers to contribute to MySQL’s software are to get a better functioning product, to build a reputation, to prove something to themselves, and to get personal satisfaction (Hyatt, 2008).

The third article by Eric von Hippel and Georg von Krogh is about how open source software development is a combination of two prevalent models of innovation, which are the private investment model and the collective action model. The private investment model presumes that innovation is supported by private investment, and from that will come private rewards. The collective action model deals with public goods which anybody can gain benefit from. Von Hippel and von Krogh see open sourcing as a private-collective model because new knowledge is created privately and then offered freely to everyone (von Hippel & von Krogh, 2003).

All three of these articles support the idea of peer production and open sourcing, so I wanted to take a look at an article that was against open sourcing. I found an article called “7 Reasons Not to Use Open Source Software.” Some reasons are as follows:

  • The user interfaces of open source systems are more difficult for unskilled users to work with.
  • Services like Microsoft Office
  • Proprietary software offers better support to users with limited knowledge, such as 24/7 support lines.
  • Warranties and liability protections (Rubens, 2014).

Lastly, I looked at Linux and WordPress for case examples of open-source software. Linux is the most well-known and popular open source operating system. Its code is free and available for anyone to view and edit, and the user interface is much more customizable than closed operating systems (Opensource.com, n.d.). WordPress is an open source software blogging website that allows users to use, modify, build upon, and redistribute their contributions. The developer community consists of thousands of people who report bugs and make other contributions (Blakhi, 2015).

Blakhi, S. (16 May 2015). Why is WordPress Free? What are the Costs? What is the Catch? Wpbeginner.com. Retrieved from http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/why-is- wordpress-free-what-are-the-costs-what-is-the-catch/


Blakhi, S. (16 May 2015). Why is WordPress Free? What are the Costs? What is the Catch? Wpbeginner.com. Retrieved from http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/why-is- wordpress-free-what-are-the-costs-what-is-the-catch/

Hyatt, J. 2008. The oh-so-practical magic of open-source innovation. MIT Sloan Management Review. 50(1) 15-19.

Rubens, P. (11 Feb 2014). 7 Reasons Not to Use Open Source Software. CIO.com. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/2378859/open-source-tools/7-reasons-not-to-use-open-source- software.html

von Hippel, E., and von Krogh, G. 2003. Open source software and the “private-collective” innovation model: Issues for organization science. Organization Science. 14(2) 209-223.

What is Linux? (n.d.). Opensource.com. Retreived from http://opensource.com/resources/what-is-linux

Zhang, M. and Zhu, F. 2011. Group size and incentives to contribute: A natural experiment at Chinese Wikipedia. American Economic Review. 101(4) 1601-1615.


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