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The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow: What is Success for Open Source Contributors?

by   Bianca Trinkenreich, et al.

Success in Open Source Software (OSS) is often perceived as an exclusively code-centric endeavor. This perception can exclude a variety of individuals with a diverse set of skills and backgrounds, in turn helping create the current diversity & inclusion imbalance in OSS. Because people's perspectives of success affect their personal, professional, and life choices, to be able to support a diverse class of individuals, we must first understand what OSS contributors consider successful. Thus far, research has used a uni-dimensional, code-centric lens to define success. In this paper, we challenge this status-quo and reveal the multi-faceted definition of success among OSS contributors. We do so through interviews with 27 OSS contributors who are recognized as successful in their communities, and a follow-up open survey with 193 OSS contributors. Our study provides nuanced definitions of success perceptions in OSS, which might help devise strategies to attract and retain a diverse set of contributors, helping them attain their "pots of gold at the end of the rainbow".


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