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Doctoral Thesis: Retaining and Managing Episodic Contributors in Free/Libre/Open Source Software Communities (Dr. Ann Barcomb)

Abstract: Free/libre/open source software (FLOSS) communities are commonly understood according to the Onion model. This thesis presents an alternative approach of understanding participation, the habitualepisodic lens drawn from the general volunteering literature. Episodic volunteering (EV) is an alternative way of understanding the periphery of the Onion model which takes into consideration recent developments in FLOSS communities, most notably the increasing role of non-code contributors. The overall objective of my work is to evaluate how the management of short-term and peripheral contributors could be improved. Using the EV lens, This thesis considers two of the most important problems in EV management, namely deriving value from contributors’ work and retention, by describing the current state of EV in FLOSS, identifying and evaluating the factors associated with retention, identifying and evaluating practices associated with retention, and identifying and evaluating EV management practices. The contributions of this work are a description of the current state of EV in FLOSS, the creation and evaluation of a theoretical model for retention of episodic contributors, and the development of a handbook of practices for addressing the problems associated with EV in FLOSS.

Keywords: Open Source, FLOSS.

Reference: Barcomb, A. (2019). Dissertation: Retaining and Managing Episodic Contributors in Free/Libre/Open Source Software Communities. University of Limerick.

Download: The PDF is available here.

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