The Role of Emotions in Contributors Activity: A Case Study of the Gentoo Community

Authors: David Garcia, Marcelo Serrano Zanetti and Frank Schweitzer



We analyse the relation between the emotions and the activity of contributors in the Open Source Software project Gentoo. Our case study builds on extensive data sets from the project's bug tracking platform Bugzilla, to quantify the activity of contributors, and its mail archives, to quantify the emotions of contributors by means of sentiment analysis. The Gentoo project is known for a considerable drop in development performance after the sudden retirement of a central contributor. We analyse how this event correlates with the negative emotions, both in bilateral email discussions with the central contributor, and at the level of the whole community of contributors. We then extend our study to consider the activity patters on Gentoo contributors in general. We find that contributors are more likely to become inactive when they express strong positive or negative emotions in the bug tracker, or when they deviate from the expected value of emotions in the mailing list. We use these insights to develop a Bayesian classifier that detects the risk of contributors leaving the project. Our analysis opens new perspectives for measuring online contributor motivation by means of sentiment analysis and for real-time predictions of contributor turnover in Open Source Software projects.