This paper presents some of the findings from a 5-year empirical study of
FOSS (free/libre and open source software) commons, completed in 2011.
FOSS projects are Internet-based common property regimes where the project
source code is developed over the Internet. The resulting software is
generally distributed with a license that provides users with the freedoms
to access, use, read, modify and redistribute the software. In this study
we used three different and very large datasets (approximately 107,000;
174,000 and 1400 cases respectively) with information on FOSS projects
residing in Sourceforge.net, one of the largest, if not the largest, FOSS
repository in the world. We employ various quantitative methods to uncover
factors that lead some FOSS projects to ongoing collaborative success,
while others become abandoned. After presenting some of our study’s
results, we articulate the collaborative “story” of FOSS that emerged. We
close the paper by discussing some key findings that can contribute to a
general theory of Internet-based collective-action and FOSS-like forms of
digital online commons.