AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction


Online peer production communities such as open source software (OSS) projects attract both identified and anonymous peripheral contributions (APC) (e.g., defect reports, feature requests, or forum posts). While we can attribute identified peripheral contributions (IPC) to specific individuals and OSS projects need them to succeed, one cannot trace back anonymous peripheral contributions (APC), and they can have both positive and negative ramifications for project development. Open platforms and managers face a challenging design choice in deciding whether to allow APC and for which tasks or what type of projects. We examine the impact that the ratio between APC and IPC has on OSS project performance. Our results suggest that the OSS projects perform the best when they contain a uniform anonymity level (i.e., they contain predominantly APC or predominantly IPC). However, our results also suggest that OSS projects have lower performance when the ratio between APC and IPC nears one (i.e., they contain close to the same number of APC and IPC). Furthermore, our results suggest that these results differ depending on the type of application that a project develops. Our study contributes to the ongoing debate about the implications of anonymity for online communities and informs managers about the effect that anonymous contributions have on their projects.