Unveiling Elite Developers' Activities in Open Source Projects

by   Zhendong Wang, et al.

Open-source developers, particularly the elite developers, maintain a diverse portfolio of contributing activities. They do not only commit source code but also spend a significant amount of effort on other communicative, organizational, and supportive activities. However, almost all prior research focuses on a limited number of specific activities and fails to analyze elite developers' activities in a comprehensive way. To bridge this gap, we conduct an empirical study with fine-grained event data from 20 large open-source projects hosted on GitHub. Thus, we investigate elite developers' contributing activities and their impacts on project outcomes. Our analyses reveal three key findings: (1) they participate in a variety of activities while technical contributions (e.g., coding) accounting for a small proportion only; (2) they tend to put more effort into supportive and communicative activities and less effort into coding as the project grows; (3) their participation in non-technical activities is negatively associated with the project's outcomes in term of productivity and software quality. These results provide a panoramic view of elite developers' activities and can inform an individual's decision making about effort allocation, thus leading to finer project outcomes. The results also provide implications for supporting these elite developers.


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