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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.
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Award ID(s):
1901311 1546393 1633083
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
International Conference on Software Engineering
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
2116 to 2129
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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