The emergent qualities of diversity in free and open source software communities : a critical review and theoretical discussion Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/fq977z97w

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  • Free and open source software (FOSS) projects primarily rely on the efforts of volunteer contributors from around the world. For this reason, recruiting and retaining contributor is vital to the sustainability and growth of FOSS projects. This notion became the jumping-off point for this three-part investigation into the cultural structure and social dynamics of the FOSS community. In Chapter 2, we analyzed mailing list discussions initiated by newcomers to a FOSS project and found that receiving timely and supportive responses was positively correlated to newcomers' future participation. In Chapter 3, we examined mailing list subscription logs, and found a disproportional attrition rate among women along every step of the FOSS joining process, further documentation of a well-known lack of gender diversity in FOSS. Finally, in Chapter 4, we examined the current demographic composition of the FOSS community, and the lack of diversity in a more general sense, as well as the mechanisms that perpetuate this situation. We present two theoretical frameworks--group faultlines theory and critical systems thinking, that can help explain this current homogeneity, as well as guide future research.
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