Fostering Free/Libre Open Source Software community formation: guidelines for communities to support newcomers' onboarding (WSL 2015)

Igor Steinmacher (UTFPR)
Marco Gerosa (USP)

Community-based Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects are usually self-organized and dynamic, receiving contributions from distributed volunteers. These communities’ survival, long-term success, and continuity demand a constant influx of newcomers. However, newcomers face many barriers when making their first contribution to an OSS project, leading in many cases to dropouts. Therefore, a major challenge for OSS projects is to provide ways to support newcomers during their first contribution. In this paper, our goal was to provide a set of guidelines to communities that want to support and foster the participation of newcomers. The guidelines were proposed based on the analysis of data collected from: semi-structured interviews with 36 developers from 14 different projects; 24 answers to an open questionnaire conducted with OSS developers; feedback from 9 graduate and undergraduate students after they tried to join OSS projects; and 20 primary studies gathered via a systematic literature review.

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