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What open source community?

crowd imageIs there such a thing as the open source community?

A related question was covered here before, about whether the word community means anything anymore. But, I still see the term “the open source community” regularly lobbed. Here on a search turns up 61 articles. [Some were for the term “open source communities”—different altogether, but only a handful.] Most of the time, there’s no further clarification. I’m sure I’ve been guilty in other writings.

What good does invoking the term do? Does it obfuscate, does it promise something that doesn’t exist and only serves to mislead ourselves and outsiders even more? Who counts as an outsider and who gets to decide?

Foreign Policy had the same debate [log-in required] in 2002 about the phrase “the international community.” They invited a set of practitioners, scholars, and journalists to weigh-in. Although they were thinking in terms of a world filled with sovereign nations, international institutions, and treaties, the debate has some striking parallels.

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