Revisiting the applicability of the pareto principle to core development teams in open source software projects

Kazuhiro Yamashita, Shane McIntosh, Yasutaka Kamei, Ahmed E. Hassan, Naoyasu Ubayashi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is often observed that the majority of the development work of an Open Source Software (OSS) project is contributed by a core team, i.e., a small subset of the pool of active developers. In fact, recent work has found that core development teams follow the Pareto principle-roughly 80% of the code contributions are produced by 20% of the active developers. However, those findings are based on samples of between one and nine studied systems. In this paper, we revisit prior studies about core developers using 2,496 projects hosted on GitHub. We find that even when we vary the heuristic for detecting core developers, and when we control for system size, team size, and project age: (1) the Pareto principle does not seem to apply for 40%-87% of GitHub projects; and (2) more than 88% of GitHub projects have fewer than 16 core developers. Moreover, we find that when we control for the quantity of contributions, bug fixing accounts for a similar proportion of the contributions of both core (18%-20%) and non-core developers (21%-22%). Our findings suggest that the Pareto principle is not compatible with the core teams of many GitHub projects. In fact, several of the studied GitHub projects are susceptible to the bus factor, where the impact of a core developer leaving would be quite harmful.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication14th International Workshop on Principles of Software Evolution, IWPSE 2015 - Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages46-55
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450338165
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 30 2015
Event14th International Workshop on Principles of Software Evolution, IWPSE 2015 - Bergamo, Italy
Duration: Aug 30 2015 → …

Publication series

NameInternational Workshop on Principles of Software Evolution (IWPSE)
Volume30-Aug-2015

Other

Other14th International Workshop on Principles of Software Evolution, IWPSE 2015
Country/TerritoryItaly
CityBergamo
Period8/30/15 → …

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

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