Perceptions and practices of usability in the free/open source software (FoSS) community

Michael Terry, Matthew Kay, Ben Lafreniere
2010 Proceedings of the 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems - CHI '10  
This paper presents results from a study examining perceptions and practices of usability in the free/open source software (FOSS) community. 27 individuals associated with 11 different FOSS projects were interviewed to understand how they think about, act on, and are motivated to address usability issues. Our results indicate that FOSS project members possess rather sophisticated notions of software usability, which collectively mirror definitions commonly found in HCI textbooks. Our study also
more » ... oks. Our study also uncovered a wide range of practices that ultimately work to improve software usability. Importantly, these activities are typically based on close, direct interpersonal relationships between developers and their core users, a group of users who closely follow the project and provide high quality, respected feedback. These relationships, along with positive feedback from other users, generate social rewards that serve as the primary motivations for attending to usability issues on a dayto-day basis. These findings suggest a need to reconceptualize HCI methods to better fit this culture of practice and its corresponding value system.
doi:10.1145/1753326.1753476 dblp:conf/chi/TerryKL10 fatcat:veds3ldzmvgz7oghfo77nd4kwe