Archive for September 9, 2011

OSS is led by an “elitist circle,” and newcomers don’t get access

There are efforts to engage undergraduates in open-source software development as a form of service learning, to be part of a developer community, or as a way to gain experience with significant code bases.  I’ve mentioned before that the OSS community doesn’t have a great track record for diversity and welcoming newcomers. Here’s a new study describing how hard it is for newcomers to connect with the oldtimers in OSS.  These results suggest that undergrads doing OSS for a course are still providing a service and are likely still gaining good experience working on a larger code base, but they’re unlikely to become part of the established developer community. It won’t really be an apprenticeship model — they’ll mostly just be talking to each other.

“Taken together, we found that accomplished developers tend to connect with other accomplished developers, essentially forming an elitist circle in the OSS (open source software) community. By contrast, it is more difficult for less successful developers to establish collaborative relations, and even if they do, they tend to connect with others who have a similar lower level of performance and experience,” Shen writes in the article.

via Research Shows Dynamics of Online Networking – UT Dallas News.

September 9, 2011 at 11:10 am 9 comments


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