Since their emergence until today, social networks have undergone a radical growth and evolution. Billions of people actively use the biggest Social Networking Sites (SNS) such as Facebook and Google+ for general purposes such as communication, media sharing, etc. beyond their original purpose of digitally mapping social relationships. Businesses have long recognized the power of social networking platforms and their features and use them for advertisement campaigns and customer binding. However, it is extremely difficult for SNS and businesses to listen to the voices of their customers. In a consequence, every update of the SNS software or any incident with a product is followed by a "voting by feet" (exit) or a "shitstorm" (voice). But what about those who gave extremely valuable and productive feedback? How to listen to reasonable user-driven innovation for your own products?

Today's social networks share the notion of communities, i.e. groups of people who share a common passion or concern (cf. Etienne Wenger's Communities of Practice). SNS acknowledge  the existence of communities more on a level of exploitation for advertisement than for professional support. A considerable amount of professional communities are located in the long tail of SNS. Chris Anderson recognized the innovation power of these communities in his book "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More".

The biggest challenge is to bring together long tail communities with innovative ideas and people  who can realize these ideas on a large scale in a participatory manner. Traditional Requirements Engineering (RE) techniques alone do not scale sufficiently. It seems rather intuitive to augment or even replace traditional RE with the scaling power of social networking concepts to cope with this challenge.

This e-letter presents recent work from the research area of Large-Scale Social Requirements Engineering (LASSRE), which combines participatory design with social networking concepts and technology, mainly addressing communities of practice located in the long tail. The core of this e-letter consists of the LASSRE approach and its reference platform Requirements Bazaar (http://requirements-bazaar.org, originally developed in the context of the EU FP7 IP ROLE (Responsive Open Learning Environments; http://www.role-project.eu/) and continued in the ongoing EU FP7 IP Learning Layers (http://learning-layers.eu/).

The first part of this e-letter features four main articles. The first article "Requirements Bazaar: Open-Source Large-Scale Social Requirements Engineering in the Long Tail" by Renzel et al. presents the LASSRE conceptual approach and its technical realization with Requirements Bazaar, including results from first evaluations in Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) community backgrounds. In the second article "Design Review of Requirements Bazaar from a Pragmatism Perspective" Purma and Bauters report experiences from using Requirements Bazaar in the Learning Layers project and in particular analyze the system on the basis of Peirce's theory of signs and Dewey's theory on experience, resulting in several improvement proposals. In the third article "Review of Online Tools for Asynchronous Distributed Online Participatory Design", Heintz et al. review a set of online tools for potential application in Online Participatory Design as part of LASSRE. The fourth article "Using Evolving Design Patterns for Collaborative Requirements Engineering and Solution Documentation" by Reiners introduces the concept of applying design patterns for documenting evolving project knowledge from the formulation of problems and requirements to the implementation of patterns in work processes and presents evaluation results in the context of the BRIDGE project dedicated to crisis management (see also IEEE STCSN E-Letter Vol.2 No.1).

The second part of this e-letter features four additional short, rather technical articles dedicated to tools integrating with Requirements Bazaar for various purposes and taking different approaches, thus showing the potential of LASSRE resp. Requirements Bazaar, when integrated in working processes of end-users on the one side and developers and service providers on the other. The first short article "Integrating Requirements Bazaar with the Issue Tracker JIRA" by Renzel shows how developers can migrate requirements from Requirements Bazaar to an issue tracker and signal back implementation progress to the end-users who stated or follow the original requirements. The second short article "Integrating Requirements Bazaar into the ROLE SDK" by Renzel highlights the seamless collection of requirements and their transfer to Requirements Bazaar with the help of a small plug-in on the example of the ROLE SDK. The third article "Turning User Requirements Into Technical Features With the House of Quality" by Koren demonstrates how lists of user-voted requirements from the Requirements Bazaar can be related to concrete technical system parts with the help of the Quality Function Development (QFD) methodology and its instantiation, the House of Quality (HoQ), ultimately translating end-user requirements into a software product.. The fourth short article "Open-Source Navigation Dashboard for Social Requirements Engineering Support" by Hannemann discusses the motivational value of awareness for activity in Open Source Developer communities with the help of data visualization dashboards, driven by data from Requirements Bazaar among other sources such as email lists, commit logs, etc.

In conclusion, this e-letter should give you a multi-faceted insight into the research area of Large-Scale Social Requirements Engineering (LASSRE). We are proud about the fact that so many dear colleagues spent their summer days working on this e-letter, writing and reviewing. Without them, we would not have been able to finish on the agreed time. In particular, we thank Matthias Jarke for his inspiring opening words "Software Innovation on the Fringe: From Universal Platforms to Long-Tail Community Support"Thank you!

Enjoy reading,  

Dominik Renzel & Ralf Klamma

Dominik Renzel is PhD student and member of the Advanced Community Information Systems (ACIS) group at the Chair of Computer Science 5 (Databases & Information Systems), RWTH Aachen University, Germany. He obtained his diploma degree in computer science in February 2009 from RWTH Aachen University. His research interests are modeling, measurement and validation of Community Information System (CIS) success, Large-Scale Social Requirements Engineering, Web Engineering, as well as Technology Enhanced Learning and Multimedia Tools. Furthermore, he is a supporter of Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS).

Ralf Klamma has diploma, doctoral and habilitation degrees in computer science from RWTH Aachen University.  He leads the research group “advanced community information systems” (ACIS) at the information systems chair, RWTH Aachen University.  He is coordinating and working in major EU projects for Technology Enhanced Learning (Learning Layers, GALA, METIS and BOOST),  He is member of the research excellence cluster "Ultra High Speed Mobile Information and Communication" (UMIC) specialized in mobile multimedia. Ralf organized doctoral summer schools and conferences in Technology Enhanced Learning, and Social Network Analysis. He is on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Technology Enhanced Learning and Social Network Analysis and Mining (SNAM). His research interests are community information systems, multimedia metadata, social network analysis and technology enhanced learning.