Other blog posts outline the attractors and impediments to contributing to OSS projects, but it’s also important to understand the broader purposes for contributing, and the rewards reaped.
First, looking at Individual Contributor responses, it’s clear that contributing to OSS projects provides an important avenue for professional development. The top response illustrates that ICs believe that participating in OSS projects helps them expand their skillset.
They also identified, in provided comments, that there are community and business motivators, as well:
• “[…] being unselfish and sharing knowledge and tools with a broader community”
• “Lower operational cost when our internal changes are accepted upstream”
• “Developing automation reduces repetitive tasks and makes my day job easier, contributing it upstream reduces the amount of effort to maintain it”
Decision Makers clearly also agree that their engineers increase their skillset by participating in OSS projects. Additionally, they perceive that participation in OSS projects helps ensure that there is industry alignment on matters of interest to the organization. This means that OSS contributions have a broader impact for organizations than just the benefits they offer their engineers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, specifically focusing on those who do support staff time to contributions, the curves don’t change.
The charts above outline the purposes and perceptions of Individual Contributors and Decision Makers in their (support of) contributions to OSS projects. Later items on the questionnaire explored how well those (largely positive) expectations for OSS projects had played out in the work place.
And, on the whole, respondents found contributing, or supporting contributions, was useful. Specifically, their experience suggests that they have indeed broadened skillsets, and succeeded in getting software tailored to their need. There were very low numbers reported for possible negatives from contributing to OSS, although one Individual Contributor respondent did point out that “being outside the core team of any project tends to mean my contributions are given lower priority.”
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What can we make clearer in this part of the report? What other questions does this bring to mind that we should answer?
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