Sustaining the virtual commons : end user support for Apache web server software on the Usenet
Author(s)Lakhani, Karim R. (Karim Raziabdullah), 1970-
End user support for Apache web server software on the Usenet
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Technology and Policy Program.
Eric A. von Hippel.
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Users have been shown to be a significant source of technology based innovations. Over the last seven years developments on the Internet have demonstrated the viability of software products that are designed, developed, distributed and supported by Users. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how and why user developed software is supported on the Usenet newsgroup discussion service of the Internet. The context of this research was the Usenet newsgroup based user support mechanism for Apache web server software. Over 55% of all World Wide Web sites on the Internet are hosted on Apache web server software. The research for this thesis was based on an analysis of four weeks of Usenet help postings for Apache software and a survey questionnaire regarding outcomes and motivations that was sent to the individuals that participated on the Usenet. Newsgroup analysis indicates that over 70% of all queries on the Usenet get at least one public reply. A majority of the replies are in the form of technical opinions. A majority of information seekers receive their first public Usenet reply within the next day of the original posting. Survey results indicate that the technical help provided is relatively low-cost to the provider, and typically involves transferring information that is already known to that help-provider rather than conducting new problem-solving at the behest of a help seeker. Typical time spent on providing help is less than five minutes. Seventy one percent of information seekers noted that they had received full or partial help in their problem solving process through their Usenet posting. Frequent helpers indicated the following were the top three reasons for their motivation to help; 1) Knew related information already, 2) Answering problems is fun and 3) Obligation - they have been helped before and now want to reciprocate. The research results are framed within the literature of technology innovation and virtual communities in cyberspace. The implications for Open Source software development and further research recommendations are provided.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, Technology and Policy Program, 1999.Includes bibliographical references (p. 110-113).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Technology and Policy Program.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Technology and Policy Program.