How Developers Acquire FLOSS Skills

TitleHow Developers Acquire FLOSS Skills
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBarcomb, Ann, Grottke Michael, Stauffert Jan-Philipp, Riehle Dirk, and Jahn Sabrina
Refereed DesignationRefereed
Secondary AuthorsDamiani, Ernesto, Frati Fulvio, Riehle Dirk, and Wasserman Anthony I.
Secondary TitleOpen Source Systems: Adoption and Impact
Series TitleIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISBN Number978-3-319-17836-3
Keywordscompetencies, Informal learning, Non-formal learning, open source, Skills, Software developer

With the increasing prominence of open collaboration as found in free/libre/open source software projects and other joint production communities, potential participants need to acquire skills. How these skills are learned has received little research attention. This article presents a large-scale survey (5,309 valid responses) in which users and developers of the beta release of a popular file download application were asked which learning styles were used to acquire technical and social skills. We find that the extent to which a person acquired the relevant skills through informal methods tends to be higher if the person is a free/libre/open source code contributor, while being a professional software developer does not have this effect. Additionally, younger participants proved more likely to make use of formal methods of learning. These insights will help individuals, commercial companies, educational institutions, governments and open collaborative projects decide how they promote learning.

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