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Very nicely put, and very true in my opinion.

Posted by danbolser on 28 Apr 2009 at 09:30 GMT

I was trying to comment on the phrase in the Abstract, "We argue that the stumbling block has been the absence of a critical mass of preexisting work that volunteers can improve through a series of granular contributions. Historically, open source software collaborations have almost never succeeded without such 'kernels'.", but for some reason that didn't work. Here is the comment I was trying to attach:

This certainly rings true from personal experience. Why put something in if you get nothing back?

Actually, this phenomenon has been seen in projects such as Wikipedia, where the history of all the contributions can be downloaded for computational analysis. One study has shown that while in the early years most contributions were from so called 'super users', but once those users had developed an infrastructure, more 'occasional' users began to contribute. Today the majority of the content appears to have come from a large number of 'occasional' users:

This was the basic idea I had when I put ideas related to ligand analysis on the web in the form of SCOL (the structural classification of ligands project) http://www.bioinformatics... i.e. lets just get something going, and see what (if anything) builds.

The SCOL site is long overdue an overhaul, but when I get round to it I'll certainly cite the current work.

No competing interests declared.