Incentives in Open Source Participation

The Connected Devices Contributor Experience Research study by Mozilla sought to understand why contributors invest time and effort into open source projects. The study carried out in-depth interviews with active participants to examine their motivations to contribute as well as pain points in their journey.

Building on Connected Devices Contributor Experience Research, we are currently conducting research, supported by Mozilla, to understand what incentives people to reduce or stop contributing. Some questions that interest us are: What value is a contributor seeking from open source participation? How can this value be measured against the value derived from other activities? If there are individuals who are qualified to participate in open source but are not doing so, then what are they doing instead? Are alternative activities displacing open source by providing greater value? How can we improve participation and increase the value generated by the open source experience?

To uncover the incentives behind decreased participation, we have developed a survey:

The survey is anonymous and takes about 10–15 minutes to complete. Check it out! We would really appreciate your feedback. If you are interested to discuss more about our project, please email us at

1 Like

I noticed on wiki that there might be private and public versions of the survey:

I wanted to check if this is a public version.

I hang out in lots of places where ex-contributors still play, but didn’t want to share on unofficial channels if it isn’t public.

Hi Greg,

We are looking for data from ex-contributors, so please do share the survey.

In addition we are also looking for qualitative feedback. If there are ex-contributors who would be willing to chat with us about their FOSS experience, please let me know how to contact them (or have them email me at I would also be happy to chat with you further about this project.

Thanks for your help!

We received many responses to the first version of the survey, including feedback from participants at Mozilla events and at FOSDEM 2017. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to fill out the survey!

Initial survey results show interesting links between people’s original motivations for getting into open source and the reasons they cite for scaling back their involvement and the activities pursued instead. We have incorporated the feedback on the first survey to improve its design and create a second version, that delves deeper into this topic.

The new survey is at

We would love to know what you think of the new survey. Check it out! Your responses are very valuable and will help us to understand how to improve the FOSS experience for all. Any questions? Feel free to get in touch at