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ICSE 2023
Sun 14 - Sat 20 May 2023 Melbourne, Australia

A sense of belonging to a community is a basic human need that impacts an individual’s behavior and long-term engagement and job satisfaction, as revealed by research in disciplines such as psychology, healthcare, and education. Despite much research on how to retain developers in virtual, peer- production communities such as Open Source Software (OSS), there is a paucity of research investigating what might contribute to a sense of belonging in OSS communities. To that end, we develop a theoretical model that seeks to model the link between developer motives and Sense of Virtual Community (SVC). We test the model with a dataset collected in the Linux Kernel developer community (N=225), using structural equation modeling techniques. Our results show that intrinsic motivations (social or hedonic motives) are positively associated with a sense of virtual community, but living in an authoritative country and being paid to contribute can reduce the sense of virtual community. Finally, we offer suggestions for open source projects to foster a sense of virtual community, with a view to retaining contributors and improving projects’ sustainability.