Converging Work-Talk Patterns in Online Task-Oriented Communities

Qi Xuan, Premkumar T Devanbu, Vladimir Filkov

Much of what we do is accomplished by working collaboratively with others, and a large portion of our lives are spent working and talking; the patterns embodied in the alternation of working and talking can provide much useful insight into task-oriented social behaviors. The available electronic traces of the different kinds of human activities in online communities are an empirical goldmine that can enable the holistic study and understanding of these social systems. Open Source Software projects are prototypical examples of collaborative, task-oriented communities, depending on volunteers for high-quality work. Here, we use sequence analysis methods to identify the work-talk patterns of software developers in these online communities. We find that software developers prefer to persist in same kinds of activities, i.e., a string of work activities followed by a string of talk activities and so forth, rather than switch them frequently; this tendency strengthens with time, suggesting that developers become more efficient, and can work longer with fewer interruptions. This process is accompanied by the formation of community culture: developers' patterns in the same communities get closer with time while different communities get relatively more different. The emergence of community culture is apparently driven by both "talk" and "work". Finally, we also find that workers with good balance between "work" and "talk" tend to produce just as much work as those that focus strongly on "work"; however, the former appear to be more likely to continue to be active contributors in the communities.

Knowledge Graph



Sign up or login to leave a comment