The Logic of Collective Action

The Logic of Collective Action

In the last few days, there have been a number of provocative and interesting posts around the issue of how to maintain Eclipse’s innovation, as well as commercial growth, and project contributions

Bjorn’s – It’s a New World

Doug’s – On the Future of Eclipse

and Michael’s – Eclipse Freeloader Award

There is some long-standing social science/economics work that is relevant.  For example, see The Logic of Collective Action.  Some thoughts from what I’ve read from Olson’s book:

1) Small groups differ from large groups in their incentives for participation

2) Selective incentives/disincentives for participation are sometimes necessary (i.e. different incentives for different group members)

3) Large groups are less able to act in their common interest than small ones

Some of the thinking that’s going on around how to get the EF membership to all act/contribute…in order that all can continue to benefit…and maintain a healthy community…could be informed by this work.

  • Posted at 01:51, 2009-04-08


    I think eclipse clearly became a large enough group to loose its ability for all members to act in the common interest.

    The wikipedia article you point to is interesting, it also points to and indirectly to, which somehow supports what I was trying to say in my blog post..

    I think there is great value in social science research. And it can help to understand and hopefully solve the problems of the eclipse community.

  • Mike Milinkovich
    Posted at 03:46, 2009-04-08

    Scott, Thanks for that…I am adding this to my reading list for sure!

  • Peter Kirschner
    Posted at 11:36, 2009-04-08

    Scott, I totally agree upon your remarks. There is a wonderful presentation from Erich Gamma describing some of the key area’s which made Eclipse successful and prosperous during the past (beside the technical things).

    But nowadays Eclipse is much more than a village. We are a melting pot of different interests. This implies that freeloaders and other suspects joined us. So we loose the accountability, transparency, and much of the fun:-( IMHO Eclipse is going commercial, which means that people are more interesting in earning money than sharing knowledge or coding sophisticated features.

    “Divide and conquer” is well know pattern in software architecture and also in civilizations. I suggest that every project inside Eclipse needs a champion (not only a project lead) sticking to all of the upper mentioned principles and being responsible for transparency about his project and the community. Therefore it would be necessary to find “political correct” ways for blaming freeloaders or pseudo-contributors as well as reward excellent citizens.

    Every huge organization I know is facing this challenge of having a defined level of principles and ethics and being able to judge those people not sticking to them. So Eclipse reached this points also and needs a way to deal with it.

    So I’m tensed, what the future brings.