The Problems Of The Online Open Source Communities

GitHub is a famous online repository where you can find a myriad list of developers showcasing their code. Above all GitHub is the best know online community where developers collaborate  on open source projects. It has a become a popular activity for budding learners to work on extensive projects. In recent years the amount of contributors to open source communities has grown. But in a disorganized group of enthusiasts, sometimes problems arise.

 

GitHub, this week released the results of its survey on open source software development, practices and worldwide communities. GitHub partnered with researchers from academic institutions, industry organizations and the open source community to collect responses from more than 6,000 participants.

Github sought data on open source software development practices and communities. The survey posed more than 50 questions on a wide variety of topics and collected responses from 5,500 randomly sampled respondents associated with more than 3,800 open source repositories on GitHub.

In addition, the survey includes more than 500 responses from a non-random sample of communities that work on other platforms.

About 70 percent of respondents were employed full- or part-time. Some 85 percent of them had contributed in some way to software development — as developers or designers, or in other roles in the software industry — frequently or occasionally as part of their main job.

The Results:

The survey found that problems permeate open source communities in two primary areas: documentation and behavior.

The results show the importance of open source documentation and reveal some of the problems missing or poorly done documentation can have on users and project adoption.

The survey also reveals an ongoing concern about nasty interactions among some open source developers, rudeness toward community members, and negative attitudes toward female programmers.

Survey respondents expressed concern over a growing unresponsiveness within communities toward users.

The survey identified what open source users value in software: Stability and security were the top responses, while support and innovation were least important.

On the positive side, the survey also showed that using and contributing to open source often happens on the job. and that open source is the default when choosing software.

Nearly 90 percent of the respondents said missing or poorly done documentation was one of the problems they encountered using open source. Respondents agreed that documentation was highly valued as a means for establishing inclusive and accessible communities, but that it frequently was overlooked.

Policies Need Clarification

The survey revealed that open source is used widely in professional contexts. Some 94 percent of respondents used open source at least sometimes in their professional work, while 81 percent used it frequently. Sixty-five percent of those who contributed to the community did so as part of their work duties.

A significant number of respondents reported that their employers’ official policies and IP agreements were unclear regarding what was allowed and under what terms.

Businesses have played a key role by subsidizing open source work by employees, so creating and communicating clear policies could encourage more frequent, regular contributions, the survey analysis notes.

Other key findings:

  • Open source is the default when choosing software. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they always sought open source options when evaluating new tools.
  • Security matters when choosing new software. Eighty-six percent of respondents said it was extremely or very important. Most users believed that open source was more secure, on average, than proprietary software.
  • Stability and user experience are big factors when it comes to choosing software. They were extremely important for 88 percent and very important for 75 percent of respondents.

 

 

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