The Community for Technology Leaders
2014 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC) (2014)
Melbourne, Australia
July 28, 2014 to Aug. 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4799-4035-6
pp: 93-100
Jennifer L. Davidson , School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Oregon State University Corvallis, U.S.A.
Rithika Naik , School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Oregon State University Corvallis, U.S.A.
Umme Ayda Mannan , School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Oregon State University Corvallis, U.S.A.
Amir Azarbakht , School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Oregon State University Corvallis, U.S.A.
Carlos Jensen , School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Oregon State University Corvallis, U.S.A.
ABSTRACT
Researchers have investigated the lack of diversity in Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) communities, but there have been few studies on age diversity. We interviewed 11 older FOSS contributors and 6 FOSS community leaders (of any age). This formative study reports on 4 key findings from those interviews: 1) motivations of older contributors, 2) benefits and challenges to contribution, 3) older adults' views on discrimination in FOSS, and 4) ways in which older adults enrich FOSS communities. We found that older adults' contributions are driven by intrinsic motivation, altruism, and community identification. In older adults' most recent contributions, we found that there were more social than technical challenges to participation. Interestingly, the majority of older adults claimed to have witnessed discrimination towards others in FOSS, especially against non-native English speakers and women. This stands in contrast to what the general male FOSS developer population reports. Participants identified 10 ways that older adults add value to FOSS communities. We conclude with guidelines for onboarding older adults.
INDEX TERMS
Communities, Aging, Interviews, Open source software, Organizations, Educational institutions
CITATION

J. L. Davidson, R. Naik, U. A. Mannan, A. Azarbakht and C. Jensen, "On older adults in free/open source software: reflections of contributors and community leaders," 2014 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC)(VLHCC), Melbourne, Australia, 2014, pp. 93-100.
doi:10.1109/VLHCC.2014.6883029
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