skip to main content

Title: "This is damn slick!": estimating the impact of tweets on open source project popularity and new contributors
Twitter is widely used by software developers. But how effective are tweets at promoting open source projects? How could one use Twitter to increase a project’s popularity or attract new contributors? In this paper we report on a mixed-methods empirical study of 44,544 tweets containing links to 2,370 open-source GitHub repositories, looking for evidence of causal effects of these tweets on the projects attracting new GitHub stars and contributors, as well as characterizing the high-impact tweets, the people likely being attracted by them, and how they differ from contributors attracted otherwise. Among others, we find that tweets have a statistically significant and practically sizable effect on obtaining new stars and a small average effect on attracting new contributors. The popularity, content of the tweet, as well as the identity of tweet authors all affect the scale of the attraction effect. In addition, our qualitative analysis suggests that forming an active Twitter community for an open source project plays an important role in attracting new committers via tweets. We also report that developers who are new to GitHub or have a long history of Twitter usage but few tweets posted are most likely to be attracted as contributors to the repositories mentioned by tweets. Our work contributes to the literature on open source sustainability.
Authors:
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1901311 1546393 1633083
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10339912
Journal Name:
International Conference on Software Engineering
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
2116 to 2129
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Social media, especially Twitter, has always been a part of the professional lives of software developers, with prior work reporting on a diversity of usage scenarios, including sharing information, staying current, and promoting one’s work. However, previous studies of Twitter use by software developers typically lack information about activities of the study subjects (and their outcomes) on other platforms. To enable such future research, in this paper we propose a computational approach to cross-link users across Twitter and GitHub, revealing (at least) 70,427 users active on both. As a preliminary analysis of this dataset, we report on a case study of 786 tweets by open-source developers about GitHub work, combining automatic characterization of tweet authors in terms of their relationship to the GitHub items linked in their tweets with qualitative analysis of the tweet contents. We find that different developer roles tend to have different tweeting behaviors, with repository owners being perhaps the most distinctive group compared to other project contributors and followers. We also note a sizeable group of people who follow others on GitHub and tweet about these people’s work, but do not otherwise contribute to those open-source projects. Our results and public dataset open up multiple futuremore »research directions.« less
  2. The diffusion of information about open-source projects is a key factor influencing the adoption of projects and the allocation of developer efforts. Developers learn about new projects, and evaluate their quality and importance by accessing the related information. Social media is an important channel for information diffusion about open-source projects, with previous research suggesting the existence of a social media ecosystem that consists of multiple platforms and collectively supports information diffusion in open source. With different features supporting information diffusion, the same piece of information likely reaches different developer communities on different platforms, which attracts the attention and contribution of different developers and thus influences the success of open-source projects. Despite its importance, few works looked at the identity of the developer community that projectrelated information reaches on social media platforms and its associated impact on the discussed project. In this work, we track social media discussions on open-source projects on three different platforms: Twitter, HackerNews, and Reddit. We first describe the dynamics of project-related information diffusion across platforms, and we analyze the association between the number of posts on each platform, and the number of developers attracted to the discussed project from different communities. We find that posts aboutmore »open-source projects first appear on Twitter and HackerNews, then move more towards Reddit. The number of project-related posts on Twitter mostly associate with the attracted developers from communities that are close to the project’s main contributor, while posts on other platforms associate more with the attention from remote communities.« less
  3. Abstract

    Software bots have been facilitating several development activities in Open Source Software (OSS) projects, including code review. However, these bots may bring unexpected impacts to group dynamics, as frequently occurs with new technology adoption. Understanding and anticipating such effects is important for planning and management. To analyze these effects, we investigate how several activity indicators change after the adoption of a code review bot. We employed a regression discontinuity design on 1,194 software projects from GitHub. We also interviewed 12 practitioners, including open-source maintainers and contributors. Our results indicate that the adoption of code review bots increases the number of monthly merged pull requests, decreases monthly non-merged pull requests, and decreases communication among developers. From the developers’ perspective, these effects are explained by the transparency and confidence the bot comments introduce, in addition to the changes in the discussion focused on pull requests. Practitioners and maintainers may leverage our results to understand, or even predict, bot effects on their projects.

  4. Open source software projects often rely on code contributions from a wide variety of developers to extend the capabilities of their software. Project members evaluate these contributions and often engage in extended discussions to decide whether to integrate changes. These discussions have important implications for project management regarding new contributors and evolution of project requirements and direction. We present a study of how developers in open work environments evaluate and discuss pull requests, a primary method of contribution in GitHub, analyzing a sample of extended discussions around pull requests and interviews with GitHub developers. We found that developers raised issues around contributions over both the appropriateness of the problem that the submitter attempted to solve and the correctness of the implemented solution. Both core project members and third-party stakeholders discussed and sometimes implemented alternative solutions to address these issues. Different stakeholders also influenced the outcome of the evaluation by eliciting support from different communities such as dependent projects or even companies. We also found that evaluation outcomes may be more complex than simply acceptance or rejection. In some cases, although a submitter's contribution was rejected, the core team fulfilled the submitter's technical goals by implementing an alternative solution. We foundmore »that the level of a submitter's prior interaction on a project changed how politely developers discussed the contribution and the nature of proposed alternative solutions.« less
  5. Developers report testing their regular expressions less than the rest of their code. In this work, we explore how thoroughly tested regular expressions are by examining open source projects. Using standard metrics of coverage, such as line and branch cov- erage, gives an incomplete picture of the test coverage of regular expressions. We adopt graph-based coverage metrics for the DFA representation of regular expressions, providing fine-grained test coverage metrics. Using over 15,000 tested regular expressions in 1,225 Java projects on GitHub, we measure node, edge, and edge-pair coverage. Our results show that only 17% of the regular expressions in the repositories are tested at all. For those that are tested, the median number of test inputs is two. For nearly 42% of the tested regular expressions, only one test input is used. Average node and edge coverage levels on the DFAs for tested regular expressions are 59% and 29%, respectively. Due to the lack of testing of regular expressions, we explore whether a string generation tool for reg- ular expressions, Rex, achieves high coverage levels. With some exceptions, we found that tools such as Rex can be used to write test inputs with similar coverage to the developer tests.