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|If the open-source software movement were an upstart political campaign, Chris Messina would be one of its community organizers--the young volunteer who decamps to New Hampshire, knocking on doors, putting up signs.
In 2004, Messina, a 26-year-old Web entrepreneur from San Francisco, found his dream candidate in Firefox, the open-source Internet browser that is a rival to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
Unlike the other candidate he volunteered for that year, Howard Dean, Firefox is still racking up victories. And unlike Dean, the people behind Firefox have a dilemma: what happens--and what is owed to volunteer contributors--when an open-source project starts to become successful?
Some 1,000 to 2,000 people have contributed code to Firefox, according to the Mozilla Foundation, which distributes the Firefox browser. An estimated 10,000 people act as testers for the program, and an estimated 80,000 help spread the word.