Scholars understand a great deal about how bureaucratic organizations work, but they know a lot less about how open source communities govern themselves – Debian is one of the cases.
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To find out how Debian governs itself, the researchers examined how the open source community designed and implemented a governance system over a 13-year period, using qualitative and quantitative data. They broke the time frame into four distinct phases: De facto Governance, Designing Governance, Implementing Governance and Stabilizing Governance. The paper shows how the community transitioned from a de facto governance model to one that integrated positional authority with directly democratic means. It then traces how community members subsequently interpreted different conceptions of authority.