Paper Type

ERF

Abstract

Open-source software (OSS) communities increasingly struggle to retain contributors jeopardizing ongoing maintenance and innovation. While coordination and funding difficulties have been studied, the growing threat of interpersonal toxicity remains overlooked. This digital ethnography will analyze two popular GitHub repositories - TensorFlow and Ruby on Rails - to inductively study contextual manifestations of toxicity through project artifacts, issues, codes of conduct, and open-ended and closed-ended surveys. Adopting grounded theory techniques, we will unveil toxic patterns and influence mechanisms violating known participation motivators. Prior findings specified clashes and conflict triggers distinct in OSS contexts related to ideological tensions and conflicting affiliations. Demonstrating toxicity’s asymmetric demotivating effects on paid versus unpaid and junior versus senior contributors can further expand theoretical perspectives on participation boundaries. Ultimately, by synthesizing a contextualized sociotechnical model interrelating toxicity to weakened motivation we expect to provide actionable understanding. Tailored interventions addressing revealed sustainability barriers can empower inclusive participation, diversity, and life cycles in a decentralized, volunteer-driven ecosystem underpinning technology innovation.

Paper Number

1050

Author Connect URL

https://authorconnect.aisnet.org/conferences/AMCIS2024/papers/1050

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Aug 16th, 12:00 AM

Aggressive, Disrespectful, Uncivil: An Immersive Examination of Toxic Communications as an Obstacle for Participation in Open-Source Software Communities

Open-source software (OSS) communities increasingly struggle to retain contributors jeopardizing ongoing maintenance and innovation. While coordination and funding difficulties have been studied, the growing threat of interpersonal toxicity remains overlooked. This digital ethnography will analyze two popular GitHub repositories - TensorFlow and Ruby on Rails - to inductively study contextual manifestations of toxicity through project artifacts, issues, codes of conduct, and open-ended and closed-ended surveys. Adopting grounded theory techniques, we will unveil toxic patterns and influence mechanisms violating known participation motivators. Prior findings specified clashes and conflict triggers distinct in OSS contexts related to ideological tensions and conflicting affiliations. Demonstrating toxicity’s asymmetric demotivating effects on paid versus unpaid and junior versus senior contributors can further expand theoretical perspectives on participation boundaries. Ultimately, by synthesizing a contextualized sociotechnical model interrelating toxicity to weakened motivation we expect to provide actionable understanding. Tailored interventions addressing revealed sustainability barriers can empower inclusive participation, diversity, and life cycles in a decentralized, volunteer-driven ecosystem underpinning technology innovation.

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