Who connects with whom? A social network analysis of an online open source software community


  • Cuihua Shen University of Texas at Dallas
  • Peter Monge




online communities, social network analysis, peer production, motivation, open source


By examining “who connects with whom” in an online community using social network analysis, this study tests the social drivers that shape the collaboration dynamics among a group of participants from SourceForge, the largest open source community on the Web. The formation of the online social network was explored by testing two distinct network attachment logics: strategic selection and homophily. Both logics received some support. Taken together, the results are suggestive of a “performance-based clustering” phenomenon within the OSS online community in which most collaborations involve accomplished developers, and novice developers tend to partner with less accomplished and less experienced peers.

Author Biographies

Cuihua Shen, University of Texas at Dallas

I am an Assistant Professor at the Emerging Media & Communication Program, School of Arts & Humanities, University of Texas at Dallas. My research and teaching interests revolve around the social and psychological impacts of various social media and virtual worlds. These sites include social networking websites (such as Facebook), Massively Multiplayer Online Games (such as EverQuest II and EVE Online), and other online communities designed for collaborative peer production, social support and entertainment.

Peter Monge

Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California.




How to Cite

Shen, C., & Monge, P. (2011). Who connects with whom? A social network analysis of an online open source software community. First Monday, 16(6). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v16i6.3551