Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Newcomers’ Barriers. . . Is That All? An Analysis of Mentors’ and Newcomers’ Barriers in OSS Projects Público Deposited

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https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/3t945z015

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  • Newcomers’ seamless onboarding is important for open collaboration communi- ties, particularly those that leverage outsiders’ contributions to remain sustainable. Nevertheless, previous work shows that OSS newcomers often face several barriers to contribute, which lead them to lose motivation and even give up on contributing. A well-known way to help newcomers overcome initial contribution barriers is men- toring. This strategy has proven effective in offline and online communities, and to some extent has been employed in OSS projects. Studying mentors’ perspectives on the barriers that newcomers face play a vital role in improving onboarding pro- cesses; yet, OSS mentors face their own barriers, which hinder the effectiveness of the strategy. Since little is known about the barriers mentors face, in this thesis, we investigate the barriers that affect mentors and their newcomer mentees. We interviewed mentors from OSS projects and qualitatively analyzed their answers. We found 44 barriers: 19 that affect mentors; and 34 that affect newcomers (9 af- fect both newcomers and mentors). Interestingly, most of the barriers we identified (66%) have a social nature. Additionally, we identified 10 strategies that mentors indicated to potentially alleviate some of the barriers. Since gender-related chal- lenges emerged in our analysis, we conducted nine follow-up structured interviews to further explore this perspective. The contributions of this thesis include: iden- tifying the barriers mentors face; bringing the unique perspective of mentors on barriers faced by newcomers; unveiling strategies that can be used by mentors to support newcomers; and investigating gender-specific challenges in OSS mentor- ship. Mentors, newcomers, online communities, and educators can leverage this knowledge to foster new contributors to OSS projects.
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