Systèmes d'Information et Management


Slashdot is a major virtual meeting ground for the Open Source development community. The discourse at Slashdot is interpreted in this study, and in combination with primary interviews and secondary archival analysis, yields rich insights about the signifying practices, contradictions, norms, incentive structures and values systems that characterize the community that it supports. The characteristics of the site such as the emphasis on collaboration to manage information, its distinctive interpellation, the reputation-maintenance mechanisms, use of Open Source tools, and adoption of norms such as "release early, release often" reflect the broader Open Source ideals. Using an ethnomethodology perspective, this study provides clear examples to recover what reflective members 'know' from their practical mastery in everyday affairs of the community. We find that the site taps into the emergent social construction of the community and effectively mediates that construction. It is proposed that Slashdot's success is derived from the skillful design that both reflects and supports Open Source practices and principles. The study offers important insights for organizations that are trying to nurture open-source communities for socially coordinated software development.