Data Analysis: Socialization of New Users

Patrick Carlson firefly2442 at
Wed Apr 27 19:00:19 UTC 2011

Hi all,

I apologize in advance if maybe this isn't quite the correct mailing list
for this topic but it seemed to be the most appropriate.  I'm a PhD graduate
student interested in examining the socialization of new users into existing
communities, specifically, communities that are Open Source.  There is a
wealth of information available from mailing list communication, IRC chat,
bug reports, version control commits, etc. all of which can be datamined.
 Far too often, developers want to join an Open Source community but they
either approach the community the wrong way or have difficulty knowing where
to start.  If someone wants to join a project and they send off an email
saying they want to change many things about the software, they're probably
just going to be ignored because it doesn't fit in with what the overall
community is trying to accomplish.  Some of this can be alleviated by
lurking and watching the mailing list to get a feel for who has power in the
community, what are the topics at hand, and who is working on what sections.
 Unfortunately, this can take significant amounts of time and some people
lose interest.

As part of my research, I would like to do data collection and analysis on
not only existing community members but also new users who want to be part
of the community.  This would involve questionnaires and gather quantitative
and qualitative data.  This is to see if there is a disconnect between new
users and the existing community.  Based on this data, I would like to
create a tool that would help in the socialization process.  At this point,
I'm still brainstorming what the tool would look like but ideally it would
be something that would aggregate information as well as help new users
understand their position in the community through graphs and information
visualization.  The final step would be a final user study that looks at a
comparison between new users who used the tool versus those who did not to
see if it actually helped.  This is the broad plan at the moment and
obviously there are many details that need to be worked out but essentially,
I need an Open Source project that is both large enough and has a steady
influx of new users who would be wiling to participate.

Is this something that Ubuntu/Canonical would be interested in?  Or perhaps
a subsection/subcommunity?  Perhaps this email is better suited to someone
who works at Canonical?  Maybe Mr. Bacon could chime in?  (huge fan btw,
LugRadio was great...)

Thank you.

-Patrick Carlson
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