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This is a question structured as a false dichotomy. Software is Open Source if it has an Open Source license. See opensource.org/osd for the standard definition.

The point of software freedom comes into play when software is delivered from producer to user - i.e. it is the license that confers freedom to the user.

The location of the source repository is not significant to being Open Source. However there is a connection.

Both the Free Software and Open Source definitions predate and are not about the more recent rise of social/community programming. Having said that, in retrospect we can see that the combination of them and the Internet may have made social/community programming inevitable.

By now, these behaviours - of cooperation on code by disparate people - are so widespread that some people misunderstand the behaviour pattern as being the "open source" aspect.

So perhaps what you mean to ask is: whether contributing to a private repository is good community behaviour. This is in many ways an even more interesting question.

p.s. it's worth noting the corollary. A public repository of code with no license statement is proprietary code by default - because that's how copyright law works. So to repeat, it isn't the nature of the repository that makes it Open Source, it's the license.


I’d say that’s not by definition open source. The cool thing is, though, by contributing to anything you're learning the same skills needed to contribute to public repositories. So while maybe I wouldn’t call it open source, it’s definitely still an awesome thing to do!


It's contributing to code, but it's not contributing to open source. Which is still cool and great, I should add!