Applying a Systematic Literature Review and Content Analysis Method to Analyse Open Source Developers’ Forking Motivation Interpretation, Categories and Consequences
In open source (OS) environments, forking is a powerful social collaborative technique that creates a social coding community and increases code visibility but it has not been adopted by OS software (OSS) developers. This paper investigates OS forking divergence using contextual frameworks (systematic literature review and content analysis) to analyse OSS developer forking motivation, interpretation, categorisation and consequences. We identified five theoretical forking patterns: 1) forking can revive original project health; 2) few effective frameworks exist to describe project-to-project developer migration; 3) there is a literature on social forking community behaviour; 4) poor guidance is a threat to forking; and 5) most research uses mixed methods. We introduce guidelines for OSS communities to reduce organisational barriers to developer motivation and highlight the important of understanding developer forking. The challenge remains to analyse forking and sustainability from a social community perspective, particularly how programming language, file repositories and developer interest can predict forking motivation and behaviour for both novice OSS developers or experienced developers who want to improve forking performance.
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