Community Code Engagements: Summer of Code & Hackathons for Community Building in Scientific Software
Association for Computing Machinery
Community code engagements -- short-term, intensive software development events -- are used by some scientific communities to create new software features and promote community building. But there is as yet little empirical support for their effectiveness. This paper presents a qualitative study of two types of community code engagements: Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and hackathons. We investigated the range of outcomes these engagements produce and the underlying practices that lead to these outcomes. In GSoC, the vision and experience of core members of the community influence project selection, and the intensive mentoring process facilitates creation of strong ties. Most GSoC projects result in stable features. The agenda setting phase of hackathons reveals high priority issues perceived by the community. Social events among the relatively large numbers of participants over brief engagements tend to create weak ties. Most hackathons result in prototypes rather than finished tools. We discuss themes and tradeoffs that suggest directions for future empirical work around designing community code engagements.