How Social and Communication Channels Shape and Challenge a Participatory Culture in Software Development

Margaret Anne Storey, Alexey Zagalsky, Fernando Figueira Filho, Leif Singer, Daniel M. German

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Software developers use many different communication tools and channels in their work. The diversity of these tools has dramatically increased over the past decade and developers now have access to a wide range of socially enabled communication channels and social media to support their activities. The availability of such social tools is leading to a participatory culture of software development, where developers want to engage with, learn from, and co-create software with other developers. However, the interplay of these social channels, as well as the opportunities and challenges they may create when used together within this participatory development culture are not yet well understood. In this paper, we report on a large-scale survey conducted with 1,449 GitHub users. We discuss the channels these developers find essential to their work and gain an understanding of the challenges they face using them. Our findings lay the empirical foundation for providing recommendations to developers and tool designers on how to use and improve tools for software developers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7498605
Pages (from-to)185-204
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • CSCW
  • Participatory culture
  • communication
  • social media
  • software engineering


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