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It was a Bit of a Race: Gamification of Version Control

It was a Bit of a Race: Gamification of Version Control

The slides for the talk I gave at the GAS 2012 workshop (colocated with ICSE 2012) in Zürich. The accompanying paper is linked to from


Leif Singer

June 09, 2012


  1. Software Engineering Group Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany Leif Singer, Kurt

    Schneider It was a Bit of a Race: Gamification of Version Control | @lsinger
  2. The Problem Developers don’t accept best practices – for many

    reasons Our approach: support intrinsic motivations use extrinsic motivators to jumpstart ... using social software mechanisms! 2
  3. The Problem Student Project: Some never commit. Many commits without

    messages. Goal 1: more commits, more evenly spread out over time. Goal 2: more commits with commit messages. 3
  4. The Teamfeed.

  5. Teamfeed 5

  6. Rationales Newsfeed of Commit Messages: awareness [Treude2010], spreading behavior [Burke2009]

    Commenting: discussion may have positive in uence on performance [Foster2010] 6
  7. Rationales Notifications: positive feedback increases feeling of competence, clears way

    for intrinsic motivations [Ryan2000] Milestones: setting (reachable) goals may improve performance [Locke2002] 7
  8. Rationales Leaderboard: jumpstart non-committers, instill some competition [Ryan2000, Thom2012] Weekly

    Digest: positive feedback, but also a reminder 8
  9. Impressions.

  10. Newsfeed & Commenting. “It motivates you because you see things

    moving forward. You see progress.” 10
  11. Newsfeed & Commenting. “Unnecessary. It doesn’t tell you anything about

    the quality of the work.” 11
  12. Leaderboard. “Good thing about Teamfeed: you see who committed how

    much. It’s a heuristic for whether someone’s actually collaborating.” “It’s nice to see that we used [version control] so often that we made the 1000.” 12
  13. Leaderboard. “In this context, I’m critical about competition, because ...

    it doesn’t say much.” 13
  14. E-Mails. “The weekly digest was great. It gave a quick

    overview. [Weekly] was often enough, but not too often.” 14
  15. E-Mails. “The e-mails for the milestones annoyed me.” 15

  16. Milestones. “When I was at 90 commits I made more

    and smaller commits, as I suspected there to be a milestone at 100. [...] So I committed small xes immediately instead of committing the xes of a whole hour together.” 16
  17. Milestones. “Milestones were useless. Lead to unnecessary commits. I committed

    things I could’ve committed later.” 17
  18. Epilogue.

  19. seems to have worked – under review rationales derived using

    a systematic approach we’re developing (see NIER paper) 19
  20. Experiment! Can others apply our method? Add your e-mail

    address to participate! 20
  21. Summary • Suboptimal adoption of SE practices • gami ed

    version control with social software e ects • Some of the lessons we learned: • Competition seemed to be OK with this population • Some things annoying, but not necessarily useless • Comments not used! ‣ Clear the way for intrinsic motivations • Extrinsic motivators to jumpstart non-participants • Slides, papers: 21
  22. References [Treude2010] C. Treude, M.-A. Storey. Awareness 2.0: Staying aware

    of projects, developers and tasks using dashboards and feeds. Proceedings of the 32nd ACM/IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering, 2010. [Burke2009] M. Burke, C. Marlow, and T. Lento. Feed me: motivating newcomer contribution in social network sites. In Proceedings of the 27th international conference on Human factors in computing systems, pages 945–954. ACM, 2009. [Foster2010] D. Foster, C. Linehan, B. Kirman, S. Lawson, G. James. Motivating physical activity at work: using persuasive social media for competitive step counting. Proceedings of the 14th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments, 2010. [Ryan2000] Ryan, R. M. & Deci, E. L. Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being. American Psychologist, 51(1):, 68-78, 2000. [Locke2002] E.A. Locke, G.P. Latham. Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, American Psychological Association, 2002. [Thom2010] J. Thom, D. R. Millen, J. DiMicco. Removing Gamification from an Enterprise SNS. Proceedings of the 2012 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, ACM, 2012. 22