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The Boston Consulting Group/OSDN Hacker Survey

Who are the hackers that create all this great free software? How much time do they spend? Why do they do it? Where are they from? Do they think its sustainable? In order to better understand the nature of this dynamic community and provide lessons to the business world about innovation, The Boston Consulting Group, in cooperation with OSDN, surveyed hackers participating on software projects on SourceForge.net, the world's largest collaborative software development Web site for the Open Source community and the Linux kernel mailing list.

The preliminary results of the BCG/OSDN survey reveal that:

  • Participants note extremely high levels of creativity in their projects.
  • Having fun, enhancing skills, access to source code and user needs drive contributions to the Open Source community. Defeating proprietary software companies is not a major motivator.
  • The Open Source community is truly global in composition with respondents coming from 35 countries.
  • Most participants dedicated at least 10 hours per week in their shared programming efforts
  • Contrary to popular belief about hackers, the open source community is mostly comprised of highly skilled IT professionals who have on average over 10 years of programming experience. Release 0.3 of the survey analysis is available here ( pdf, html ), and Release 0.73 is here ( pdf, html ).

Contact Karim Lakhani (lakhani@mit.edu) or Bob Wolf (bob@bcg.com) for more information.

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