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I have contributed to various open source software projects, mostly through contributing to documentation as coding is not where my talents lie, so I was interested to read this article What motivates open source software contributors? by Igor Steinmacher. Igor provides an overview of research in this area, the opensource software emerged from the free software in the early years of the two thousands. As well as providing a snapshot of contributor motivations Igor looks at how these motivations change over time, what motivated a fresh faced computer science student twenty years ago may not be what motivates someone now, or the same person after logging many years in the open source movement.
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Since this is a form of virtual volunteering, I try to keep track of any research or particularly interesting articles, because I think the insights can help a range of programs seeking to mobilize unpaid people - volunteers - online. I have the ones I've found listed here on the Virtual Volunteering wiki, and will be adding this article as well (thanks, Peter):
This latest paper's finding can be applied to many different virtual volunteering scenarios, not just open source projects, IMO, as the article summarizes
Knowing how new and long-time contributors differ in motivation helps us discover how to support them better. For example, to attract and retain new contributors, who might become the future workforce, projects could invest in promoting career, fun, kinship, and learning, which are particularly relevant for young contributors. Because over time altruism becomes more important to contributors, FOSS projects aiming to retain experienced contributors, who tend to be core members or maintainers, could invest in strategies and tools showing how their work benefits the community and society (altruism) and improve social interactions. Also in response to the increased rank of altruism, hosting platforms could offer social features to pair those needing help with those willing to help, highlight when a contributor helps someone, and make it easier to show appreciation to others (similar to stars given to projects).
-=-=-=-=-=- Jayne Cravens Author, The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
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