FOSS Politics Writing Activity

From TeachingOpenSource


FOSS Politics Writing Activity


This activity helps student investigate politics within the open-source community.


Basic knowledge of definition of Open Source

After successfully completing this activity, the learner should be able to:

Close reading of articles. Identifying concepts and relationships. Writing communication.

Process Skills


Every community has politics. Understanding those politics is important work effectively within a community. This activity helps student investigate politics within the open-source community.

This is a general activity that could be appropriate for a variety of classes.

  • Openness courses
  • Any course where you want students to understand how FOSS communities communicate/work-flow
  • Research methods course (information literacy)
  • Less programming course, like CS0
  • Writing component in a technical course
  • Ethics course


Read articles that discuss the organizational and institutional view of FOSS, focusing on how communications in FOSS projects are organized and structured, and how FOSS projects have inherent politics. The outcomes of this activity is the production of a summary (extended abstract) address the research methods used to study these situations - this could be modified to address more pertinent aspects about the FOSS community.

Articles that have been used in the past, include:

  • Ebert, Christof. "Open Source Drives Innovation Software", IEEE Software, Volume 24, Issue 3, 2007.
  • Morelli, Ralph. "A global collaboration to deploy help to China", Communications of the ACM (CACM), Volume 53, Issue 12, December 2010.
  • Zilouchian Moghaddam, Roshanak and Twidale, Michael and Bongen, Kora. "Open Source Interface Politics: Identity, Acceptance, Trust, and Lobbying", CHI '11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing, 2011.


Written abstract or essay


How will the activity be graded?

How will learning will be measured?

Include sample assessment questions/rubrics.

Criteria Level 1 (fail) Level 2 (pass) Level 3 (good) Level 4 (exceptional)
The purpose of the project
Why the project is open source


Typical rubrics relating to writing, completeness of argument, and process of understanding structure. You may choose to focus on identifying research methods correctly (e.g., other steps they took to dig into the material).

Depending on your class, there may be some concerns:

  • How do you fit it into your curriculum that already has a lot of requirements?
  • How long does it take to grade them (peer review?)
  • Build up to larger assignment with smaller assignments.
  • Matching level of articles to level of students.

Additional Information

Area & Unit(s)
Estimated Time
to Complete

2 weeks

Environment /

Current events articles or papers


Robert Duvall, Stoney Jackson, Joanna Klukowska, Edward Mirielli


POSSE 2014-11


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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Suggestions for Open Source Community

Suggestions for an open source community member who is working in conjunction with the instructor.