Trust Elements in Open Source

Trust Elements in Open Source

Barbara Russo (Free University of Bozen-Balzano, Italy), Marco Scotto (Free University of Bozen-Balzano, Italy), Alberto Sillitti (Free University of Bozen-Balzano, Italy) and Giancarlo Succi (Free University of Bozen-Balzano, Italy)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-681-5.ch019
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Abstract

The quality of a software development process is based on a large spectrum of various elements that must be identified and assessed. The majority of elements can be measured quantitatively and possibly using an automatic process. Some elements, however, are rather subjective and depend strongly on different opinions of people using or evaluating the software development process. An automatic measurement approach is difficult to achieve (for example by on-line questionnaires or surveys inserted inside software products or software development tools). The foundation for all assessments is a set of elements that will be at a certain point of development or use measured and evaluated.
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19.1 Introduction

The quality of a software development process is based on a large spectrum of various elements that must be identified and assessed. The majority of elements can be measured quantitatively and possibly using an automatic process. Some elements, however, are rather subjective and depend strongly on different opinions of people using or evaluating the software development process. An automatic measurement approach is difficult to achieve (for example by on-line questionnaires or surveys inserted inside software products or software development tools). The foundation for all assessments is a set of elements that will be at a certain point of development or use measured and evaluated. This chapter provides a rationale for identifying elements that we call trustworthy elements (TWE), the process for their identification, sources for the identification of key trustworthy elements and at the end a list of the most important trustworthy elements identified.

Many just slightly different definitions about trustworthiness and trustworthy related concepts can be found on the web and in the literature. We present here just the most relevant definitions to our own understanding of the concept of a trustworthy element that is used inside this deliverable. Some of the definitions found on the web and in the literature are the following:

  • Merriam-Webster's on-line dictionary defines the concept of trustworthy as something being worthy of confidence; dependable; a trustworthy guide, trustworthy information.

Other definitions found on the web and in the literature are:

  • Taking responsibility for one's conduct and obligations; trustworthy public servants1 .

  • Trustworthiness is keeping one's word and being worthy of others' confidence: sound in principles, full of integrity, reliable and dependableKen Buist.

  • The National Security Agency (NSA) defines a trusted system or component as one whose failure can break the security policy, and a trustworthy system or component as one that will not fail. (Wikipedia)

  • The Committee on Information Systems Trustworthiness’ publication, Trust in Cyberspace, defines a trustworthy computing system as one which: Does what people expect it to do – and not something else – despite environmental disruption, human user and operator errors, and attacks by hostile parties. Design and implementation errors must be avoided, eliminated or somehow tolerated. It is not sufficient to address only some of these dimensions, nor is it sufficient simply to assemble components are themselves trustworthy. Trustworthiness is holistic and multidimensional. (Wikipedia)

Our definition of trustworthiness and of the trustworthy element are closer to Wordnet's definition, since it depends on the personal beliefs or generic trust that people, users of OS systems and all the stakeholders, share about a specific software development process. We use the term element for describing all the components and aspects influencing the development and functioning of a software system.

Therefore, we define the trustworthy element as a specific factor or aspect of the software development process, or of product results that indirectly influence the perception of the trustworthiness of the OS development process, that influences the belief and trust of the stakeholders in the overall quality of the software development process used inside OS projects.

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