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  1. While lots of research has explored howto prevent maintainers from abandoning the open-source projects that serve as our digital infrastructure, there are very few insights on addressing abandonment when it occurs. We argue open-source sustainability research must expand its focus beyond trying to keep particular projects alive, to also cover the sustainable use of open source by supporting users when they face potential or actual abandonment.We interviewed 33 developers who have experienced open-source dependency abandonment. Often, they used multiple strategies to cope with abandonment, for example, first reaching out to the community to find potential alternatives, then switching to a community-accepted alternative if one exists. We found many developers felt they had little to no support or guidance when facing abandonment, leaving them to figure out what to do through a trial-and-error process on their own. Abandonment introduces cost for otherwise seemingly free dependencies, but users can decide whether and how to prepare for abandonment through a number of different strategies, such as dependency monitoring, building abstraction layers, and community involvement. In many cases, community members can invest in resources that help others facing the same abandoned dependency, but often do not because of the many other competing demands on their time – a form of the volunteer’s dilemma. We discuss cost reduction strategies and ideas to overcome this volunteer’s dilemma. Our findings can be used directly by open-source users seeking resources on dealing with dependency abandonment, or by researchers to motivate future work supporting the sustainable use of open source. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 4, 2024
  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 about 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. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 14, 2024
  3. 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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  4. Online toxicity is ubiquitous across the internet and its negative impact on the people and that online communities that it effects has been well documented. However, toxicity manifests differently on various platforms and toxicity in open source communities, while frequently discussed, is not well understood. We take a first stride at understanding the characteristics of open source toxicity to better inform future work on designing effective intervention and detection methods. To this end, we curate a sample of 100 toxic GitHub issue discussions combining multiple search and sampling strategies. We then qualitatively analyze the sample to gain an understanding of the characteristics of open-source toxicity. We find that the pervasive forms of toxicity in open source differ from those observed on other platforms like Reddit or Wikipedia. In our sample, some of the most prevalent forms of toxicity are entitled, demanding, and arrogant comments from project users as well as insults arising from technical disagreements. In addition, not all toxicity was written by people external to the projects; project members were also common authors of toxicity. We also discuss the implications of our findings. Among others we hope that our findings will be useful for future detection work. 
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    Open source software projects often rely on package management systems that help projects discover, incorporate, and maintain dependencies on other packages, maintained by other people. Such systems save a great deal of effort over ad hoc ways of advertising, packaging, and transmitting useful libraries, but coordination among project teams is still needed when one package makes a breaking change affecting other packages. Ecosystems differ in their approaches to breaking changes, and there is no general theory to explain the relationships between features, behavioral norms, ecosystem outcomes, and motivating values. We address this through two empirical studies. In an interview case study, we contrast Eclipse, NPM, and CRAN, demonstrating that these different norms for coordination of breaking changes shift the costs of using and maintaining the software among stakeholders, appropriate to each ecosystem’s mission. In a second study, we combine a survey, repository mining, and document analysis to broaden and systematize these observations across 18 ecosystems. We find that all ecosystems share values such as stability and compatibility, but differ in other values. Ecosystems’ practices often support their espoused values, but in surprisingly diverse ways. The data provides counterevidence against easy generalizations about why ecosystem communities do what they do. 
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    Background: Hackathons have become popular events for teams to collaborate on projects and develop software prototypes. Most existing research focuses on activities during an event with limited attention to the evolution of the code brought to or created during a hackathon. Aim: We aim to understand the evolution of hackathon-related code, specifically, how much hackathon teams rely on pre-existing code or how much new code they develop during a hackathon. Moreover, we aim to understand if and where that code gets reused, and what factors affect reuse. Method: We collected information about 22,183 hackathon projects from DEVPOST– a hackathon database – and obtained related code (blobs), authors, and project characteristics from the WORLD OF CODE. We investigated if code blobs in hackathon projects were created before, during, or after an event by identifying the original blob creation date and author, and also checked if the original author was a hackathon project member. We tracked code reuse by first identifying all commits containing blobs created during an event before determining all projects that contain those commits. Result: While only approximately 9.14% of the code blobs are created during hackathons, this amount is still significant considering time and member constraints of such events. Approximately a third of these code blobs get reused in other projects. The number of associated technologies and the number of participants in a project increase reuse probability. Conclusion: Our study demonstrates to what extent pre-existing code is used and new code is created during a hackathon and how much of it is reused elsewhere afterwards. Our findings help to better understand code reuse as a phenomenon and the role of hackathons in this context and can serve as a starting point for further studies in this area. 
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    Time-bounded events such as hackathons have become a global phenomenon. Scientific communities in particular show growing interest in organizing them to attract newcomers and develop technical artifacts to expand their code base. Current hackathon approaches presume that participants have sufficient expertise to work on projects on their own. They only provide occasional support by domain experts serving as mentors which might not be sufficient for newcomers. Drawing from work on workplace and educational mentoring, we developed and evaluated an approach where each hackathon team is supported by a community member who serves in a mentor role that goes beyond providing occasional support. Evaluating this approach, we found that teams who took ownership of their projects, set achievable goals early while building social ties with their mentor and receiving learning-oriented support reported positive perceptions related to their project and an increased interest in the scientific community that organized the hackathon. Our work thus contributes to our understanding of mentoring in hackathons, an area which has not been extensively studied. It also proposes a feasible approach for scientific communities to attract and integrate newcomers which is crucial for their long-term survival. 
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