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Type: Journal article
Title: GitHub Discussions: An exploratory study of early adoption
Author: Hata, H.
Novielli, N.
Baltes, S.
Kula, R.G.
Treude, C.
Citation: Empirical Software Engineering: an international journal, 2022; 27(1):1-32
Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Issue Date: 2022
ISSN: 1382-3256
Statement of
Hideaki Hata, Nicole Novielli, Sebastian Baltes, Raula Gaikovina Kula, Christoph Treude
Abstract: Discussions is a new feature of GitHub for asking questions or discussing topics outside of specific Issues or Pull Requests. Before being available to all projects in December 2020, it had been tested on selected open source software projects. To understand how developers use this novel feature, how they perceive it, and how it impacts the development processes, we conducted a mixed-methods study based on early adopters of GitHub discussions from January until July 2020. We found that: (1) errors, unexpected behavior, and code reviews are prevalent discussion categories; (2) there is a positive relationship between project member involvement and discussion frequency; (3) developers consider GitHub Discussions useful but face the problem of topic duplication between Discussions and Issues; (4) Discussions play a crucial role in advancing the development of projects; and (5) positive sentiment in Discussions is more frequent than in Stack Overflow posts. Our findings are a first step towards data-informed guidance for using GitHub Discussions, opening up avenues for future work on this novel communication channel.
Keywords: GitHub discussions; Communications; Sentiment; Empirical study; Exploratory study
Rights: © The Author(s) 2021 This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
DOI: 10.1007/s10664-021-10058-6
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