Interesting GNOME Census problemsMarch 24, 2010 9:19 am community, gnome
We’ve been running into some interesting issues with the GNOME census, which are causing us to twist our tiny brains to get useful results. I thought it might be interesting to share some of them.
- gnome.org – a large number of people commit with their gnome.org address (or src.gnome.org), but have also committed with a different address in the past. So many of you received our survey request twice or more (oops). gnome.org addresses pose another problem too – when attempting to identify a developer’s employer, gitdm uses domain name matching, and some many gainfully employed GNOME hackers use their gnome.org addresses to commit, that doesn’t work very well (oops). Finally, we have observed so far that the response rate among unpaid GNOME developers is much higher than the response rate among professional GNOME developers, which has made identifying employers for specific addresses even more difficult.
- ubuntu.com – Some Canonical developers commit with their gnome.org address, some with their canonical.com address, and others apparently use their ubuntu.com address. Some unpaid Ubuntu hackers & packagers also commit with ubuntu.com email addresses. So identifying the exact number of Canonical developers & Canonical upstream commits has proven very difficult.
- Time – many GNOME developers have changed employers at some point, or gone from being unpaid GNOME developers to paid GNOME developers, or changed companies through acquisition or merger. Old email addresses bounce. And yet, it’s the same person. Dealing with time has been one of our toughest challenges, and one where we still don’t have satisfactory answers.
- Self-identity – One of the issues we’ve had running the survey is that simple domain name pattern matching doesn’t tell the whole story. Does someone who works for Red Hat on packaging and then spends his evenings hacking his pet project count as a volunteer or a professional? We have noticed a significant number of people who commit with their professional email addresses and consider themselves volunteers on the GNOME project. For a problem which is already complicated enough, this adds further nuance to any quantitative statistics which result.
Thank you all to everyone who has taken the time to answer the 3 to 7 questions (depending on how you self-identify) in the survey – the data has been interesting, and has led us to question some of our preconceptions. To those of you who have not answered yet, let me assure you that the email we sent was not a spam, and Vanessa is doing a great job collating your answers and (in some cases) preparing follow-up questions.
Any insights which people might be able to give in elucidating the issues we’ve noticed are welcome! Please do leave comments.