A Theory of the Engagement in Open Source Projects via Summer of Code Programs
Summer of code programs connect students to open source software (OSS) projects, typically during the summer break from school. Analyzing consolidated summer of code programs can reveal how college students, who these programs usually target, can be motivated to participate in OSS, and what onboarding strategies OSS communities adopt to receive these students. In this paper, we study the well-established Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and devise an integrated engagement theory grounded in multiple data sources to explain motivation and onboarding in this context. Our analysis shows that OSS communities employ several strategies for planning and executing student participation, socially integrating the students, and rewarding student’s contributions and achievements. Students are motivated by a blend of rewards, which are moderated by external factors. We presented these rewards and the motivation theory to students who had never participated in a summer of code program and collected their shift in motivation after learning about the theory. New students can benefit from the former students' experiences detailed in our results, and OSS stakeholders can leverage both the insight into students’ motivations for joining such programs as well as the onboarding strategies we identify to devise actions to attract and retain newcomers.
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