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Journal Articles Empirical Software Engineering Year : 2023

A grounded theory of Community Package Maintenance Organizations

Abstract

In many programming language ecosystems, developers rely more and more on external open source dependencies, made available through package managers. Key ecosystem packages that go unmaintained create a health risk for the projects that depend on them and for the ecosystem as a whole. Therefore, community initiatives can emerge to alleviate the problem by adopting packages in need of maintenance. The goal of our study is to explore such community initiatives, that we will designate from now on as Community Package Maintenance Organizations (CPMOs) and to build a theory of how and why they emerge, how they function and their impact on the surrounding ecosystems. To achieve this, we use a qualitative methodology called Grounded Theory. We have applied this methodology in two steps. First, on ``extant'' documents (documentation, discussions on public forums) originating from several CPMOs. From this data, we have built a theory of CPMOs, which we have then refined through interviews and reliability checks with CPMO participants. Our theory can inform developers willing to launch a CPMO in their own ecosystem and help current CPMO participants to better understand the state of the practice and what they could do better. It is a basis on which future research can be done on how to help open source ecosystems improve the maintenance status of their most important packages.
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Dates and versions

hal-03976601 , version 1 (07-02-2023)

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Théo Zimmermann, Jean-Rémy Falleri. A grounded theory of Community Package Maintenance Organizations. Empirical Software Engineering, 2023, 28 (4), pp.101. ⟨10.1007/s10664-023-10337-4⟩. ⟨hal-03976601⟩
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