Newcomer Integration and Learning in Technical Support Communities for Open Source Software

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Association for Computing Machinery
In this paper we present results of an NSF funded project on exploring and understanding cyber learning that happens in online open source software (OSS) communities for technical support. We look across multiple OSS support communities (Firefox, Java, and Koha) to understand the behavior of newcomers in these communities, the role that the community response plays in their continued participation and newcomer best practices. We found that newcomers are not a homogenous group and majority of them display model" behavior. We also found out that community response is critical for continued participation of newcomers. In our dataset, almost all non returning newcomers can be attributed to receiving no reply or a condescending reply from the community. We found that one third of newcomers' transition into a role of help givers in the community and demonstrate evidence of learning. We also highlight best practices for newcomers to be successful in these online communities."