Influence of social and technical factors for evaluating contribution in GitHub
Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Software Engineering - ICSE 2014
Open source software is commonly portrayed as a meritocracy, where decisions are based solely on their technical merit. However, literature on open source suggests a complex social structure underlying the meritocracy. Social work environments such as GitHub make the relationships between users and between users and work artifacts transparent. This transparency enables developers to better use information such as technical value and social connections when making work decisions. We present a
... dy on open source software contribution in GitHub that focuses on the task of evaluating pull requests, which are one of the primary methods for contributing code in GitHub. We analyzed the association of various technical and social measures with the likelihood of contribution acceptance. We found that project managers made use of information signaling both good technical contribution practices for a pull request and the strength of the social connection between the submitter and project manager when evaluating pull requests. Pull requests with many comments were much less likely to be accepted, moderated by the submitter's prior interaction in the project. Well-established projects were more conservative in accepting pull requests. These findings provide evidence that developers use both technical and social information when evaluating potential contributions to open source software projects.