Managing Volunteer Activity in Free Software Projects

  • Martin Michlmayr, University of Melbourne


During the last few years, thousands of volunteers have created a large body of free software. Even though this accomplishment shows that the free software development model works, there are some drawbacks associated with this model. Due to the volunteer nature of most free software projects, it is impossible to fully rely on participants. Volunteers may become busy and neglect their duties. This may lead to a steady decrease of quality as work is not being carried out. The problem of inactive volunteers is intensified by the fact that most free software projects are distributed, which makes it hard to quickly identify volunteers who neglect their duties. This paper shows Debian's approach to inactive volunteers. Insights presented here can be applied to other free software projects in order to implement effective quality assurance strategies.



Michlmayr, M. (2004). Managing Volunteer Activity in Free Software Projects. In: Proceedings of the 2004 USENIX Annual Technical Conference, Freenix Track. 93–102.