Book cover This publication is featured in Chapter 10 of the book ‘Evolving Software Systems’ by Tim Mens et al., and is available from Amazon.


Development mailing lists play a central role in facilitating communication in open source projects. Since these lists frequently host design and project discussions, knowledgeable contribution to these discussion threads is essential to avoid mis-communication that might slow down the progress of a project. However, given the sheer volume of emails on these lists, it is easy to miss important discussions. To find out how developers are able to deal with mailing list discussions, we study the main factors that encourage developers to contribute to the development mailing lists. We develop personalized models to automatically identify discussion threads that a developer would contribute to based on his previous contribution behavior. Case studies on development mailing lists of three open source projects (Apache, PostgreSQL and Python) show that the average accuracy of our models is 85–89% and that the models vary significantly between different developers.

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If you would like to cite the research in your own work, please use the following citation:

 author = "Walid M. Ibrahim and Nicolas Bettenburg and Emad Shihab and Bram Adams and Ahmed E. Hassan",
 title = "Should I contribute to this discussion?",
 booktitle = "MSR '10: Proceedings of the 2010 International Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories",
 year = "2010",
 pages = "181--191",
 location = "Cape Town, South Africa",
 publisher = "IEEE"

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