The power of bots: Understanding bots in OSS projects

Mairieli Wessel, Bruno Mendes De Souza, Igor Steinmacher, Igor S. Wiese, Ivanilton Polato, Ana Paula Chaves, Marco A. Gerosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Leveraging the pull request model of social coding platforms, Open Source Software (OSS) integrators review developers' contributions, checking aspects like license, code quality, and testability. Some projects use bots to automate predened, sometimes repetitive tasks, thereby assisting integrators' and contributors' work. Our research investigates the usage and impact of such bots. We sampled 351 popular projects from GitHub and found that 93 (26%) use bots. We classied the bots, collected metrics from before and after bot adoption, and surveyed 228 developers and integrators. Our results indicate that bots perform numerous tasks. Although integrators reported that bots are useful for maintenance tasks, we did not nd a consistent, statistically signicant dierence between before and after bot adoption across the analyzed projects in terms of number of comments, commits, changed les, and time to close pull requests. Our survey respondents deem the current bots as not smart enough and provided insights into the bots' relevance for specic tasks, challenges, and potential new features. We discuss some of the raised suggestions and challenges in light of the literature in order to help GitHub bot designers reuse and test ideas and technologies already investigated in other contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number182
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Automated agents
  • Bots
  • Chatbots
  • Open source software
  • Pull request
  • Pull-based model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


Dive into the research topics of 'The power of bots: Understanding bots in OSS projects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this