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The Art of Community: Why Developers Contribute to Vendor-Owned Open Source Projects

Open source software (OSS) development is deeply ingrained in the developer culture, representing a distinct and inclusive collaborative ecosystem. In this chapter, we will explore the motivations behind vendor-owned OSS contributions through the lenses of experience, global region, and the use of Stack Overflow. 

OSS projects represent the power of community: collaborative efforts to develop code and software which positively impacts a wider audience than the individuals involved. Vendor-owned OSSprojects, e.g. TensorFlow and Visual Studio Code, combine this sense of community with financial backing from the world’s largest tech companies – a powerful combination of stability and open cooperation. 

For every developer involved in vendor-owned OSS, there is a different motivating factor – why do developers contribute to these projects? The big picture is that the top-three motivators for vendor-owned OSS contributors are: wanting to learn how to code better (38%), to improve the software that they use (29%),and to contribute to something bigger than themselves (22%).

How does experience affect vendor-owned OSS contribution?

When compared to beginners, those with six years of experience or more are around 13 percentage points more likely to contribute in order to improve a software they use. These experienced and improvement-focussed developers are also much more likely to hold specialist roles compared to their less experienced peers. For example, they are six times more likely tobe software architects and five times more likely to be either tech/engineering team leads or site reliability engineers. They not only believe that the software they use can be improved, but that they also have the capability and skills to improve it.

Experienced developers devote significant attention to enhancing the open-source software (OSS) provided by vendors, which they actively use and rely on

In fact, improving software seems to be the main motivation for many senior developers – those with 16 years of experience or more are the least likely to contribute for the majority of the other reasons we list. Learning to code better, getting noticed by their company, and getting their code reviewed are much lower priorities among seasoned developers. This is to be expected given the amount of expertise and recognition they have typically accumulated by that stage of their career.

At the other end of the scale, those most willing to contribute for their own education are developers with 1-2 years of experience. Compared to those with even less experience,these developers are 58% more likely to be exclusively professionals and 48% less likely to be exclusively students. In other words, at this stage of their careers, they have enough professional know-how and confidence to contribute to vendor-owned OSS software – yet are pursuing further education for their coding skills by giving back to the community.

Vendor-owned OSS contribution around the world

According to our data, 73% of developers contribute to vendor-owned OSS globally, but the level of contribution varies around the world. Developers in South Asia are the most likely to contribute (85%), while those in Eastern Europe are the least likely (67%). As for the two largest regional developer communities, North America and Western Europe,78% and 70% of developers contribute to corporate OSS projects, respectively.

South Asia and the Middle East and Africa are hotspots for developers contributing to vendor – owned OSS projects in order to level up their coding skills

As for specific motivations, there are a couple of hotspot regions that stand out from the crowd. Nearly half (47%) of OSS contributors in the Middle East and Africa and SouthAsia are motivated by learning to code better and similarly, about one in four by the opportunity to have their code reviewed by more experienced colleagues: 10 and 5 percentage points above the global average, respectively. 

Tying in with our previous analysis: these regions also hold the two largest shares of developers with less than two years of experience – 52% for the Middle East and Africa and 73% for South Asia.

However, to see how motivations towards vendor-owned OSS change across the globe, we take a wider perspective. In doing so, we group motivations into three broad categories: individual-focussed (getting noticed by the company, learning to code better, etc), collaboration-focussed (getting their code reviewed by knowledgeable people, etc.), and business-focussed (building community support around a corporate open source software project). In this manner, we can get a view of how sentiments towards vendor-owned OSS change around the world.

For instance, we see that developers in Oceania are at least 5 percentage points more likely than any other region to have business-focussed motivations when contributing to vendor-owned OSS projects. This may be linked to the financial success/focus of developers in this region – 9% of OSS contributors in Oceania report that they or their organisation generate more than $1M of revenue every month on average,compared to the global average of 4%.

Female developers are considerably more likely to be business-focussed when contributing to vendor-owned OSS

An interesting note on gender: we see that globally, female developers are 26% more likely than male developers to be business-focussed in their approach to vendor-owned OSS contribution. This observation is particularly strong in Europe: 54%of female developers in Western and Eastern Europe are business-focussed, compared to 33% of male developers. However, as the proportion of OSS-contributing female developers (22%) is only slightly higher than the global proportion (21%), it’s unlikely that they drive business-focussed regional behaviour. 

How do OSS contributors useStack Overflow?

Let’s look at the usage of a website that is synonymous with cooperation in programming and software development and see how the proportion of OSS contributors changes with varying levels of interaction. For users of Stack Overflow, we see a behavioural trend–those who are more active on the website are more likely to contribute to vendor-owned OSS.

Diving into the specific usage patterns of Stack Overflow,those who don’t use or visit the site are the least likely to contribute to vendor-owned OSS for any reason, compared to those who use the site at any level. This is again related to experience: 39% of those who don’t use Stack Overflow havel ess than a year of software development experience and only 5% have an account with a badge; these developers are the least likely to contribute to vendor-owned OSS projects, after those with more than 16 years of experience.

Likewise, there are differences in motivations to contribute to vendor-owned OSS between those with or without StackOverflow badges. For example, only 28% of OSS-contributing developers without a badge want to improve the software they use, in contrast to 40% of developers with badges. A possible driver here is professional status – 74% of those without a badge are professionals. For those with a badge, 91% are professionals: these developers are not only more focussed on improvement, they are more willing to engage with the community to do so.

The strength of community shines through in vendor-owned OSS projects, where collaborative efforts to develop software have the remarkable ability to create positive impacts on a broader audience beyond the individuals directly involved. Here, we’ve shown that developers involved in vendor-owned OSS have different motivations depending on their experience, gender, and region, which in turn reflects how they use collaborative environments like Stack Overflow. 


Supporting developers with our global developer surveys

In Developer Nation we have been supporting developers and organisations who help developers since 2019. The way we do this is through our donation program during our Global Developer Surveys. Every 6 months we donate $1,800-$2,000 to each organisation. So far, we’ve supported the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Black Girls Code, Techfugees, and Women in Big Data (South Africa).

For our 21st Developer Nation survey, we wanted to get developers more involved in the process. What changed this time? 

Developers who participated in our latest survey wave got to choose the organisation they wished to support. Each developer taking the survey raised the donation amount by $0.10. There were 5 different organisations to choose from.

These were:

  • CoderDojo helps enhance and build technological skills in an informal, creative and social environment.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation is battling for free speech, digital privacy and innovation. EFF is defending civil liberties in the digital world.
  • Free Code Camp is helping people to learn how to code for free. They offer a variety of videos, tutorials, articles and interactive lessons in order to enhance coding skills.
  • Mozilla Foundation works to ensure the internet remains a public resource that is open and accessible to everyone. Their goal is a more human-centered internet.
  • The Nature Conservancy, our most diverse donation program given our audience, protects through its projects millions of acres of land, rivers and marine ecosystems.

Based on the donation choices of the developers participating in our 21st Developer Nation Survey, we can proudly announce our donation to each program, as shown below. We are excited to know that we have such a diverse community that apart from empowering others to enter the developer ecosystem, are also mindful of our natural ecosystem:

  1. Free Code Camp – $748
  2. Mozilla Foundation – $516
  3. The Nature Conservancy – $436
  4. Electronic Frontier Foundation – $196
  5. Coder Dojo – $116

Thanks to those who participated in our Developer Nation survey & helped make this happen!

Special thanks to prize winners and our affiliates – Michael Rabenandrasana and Sanchit Khurana- who have donated their prizes value and payments to the above charities.

We also received some great input and suggestions on other organisations we should support in the future, and invite you to share your ideas too, so we can keep supporting developers and make a difference. We will make sure to add them on our donation list in our upcoming surveys.


Congratulations to all Prize Winners: Developer Economics Q4 2019 prize draw results

We want to send a big thank you to everyone who participated in our survey and helped contribute to the developer ecosystem! It’s time to announce the full list of our prize winners for the Developer Economics survey Q4 2019 prize draws!

Huge congratulations to all the winners! ?

Exclusive Community Prize Draw for members with 801+ points – Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and iPad Pro

Winner Country Prize
Manish.G Germany Microsoft Surface Pro 6
a********@l***.c** India iPad Pro

Exclusive Community Prize Draw for members with 801+ points – Prizes: Vouchers, branded stickers, water bottles, surprise swag, and socks

Winner Country Prize
Alex L. Israel $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
n***.b*****@g****.c** Finland $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
b********.o*****@g****.c** Mexico $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
Mihály B. Hungary $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
Sharmaine L. Philippines $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
s*******@y****.c** Canada Branded stickers and water bottle
Javier P. Venezuela Branded stickers and water bottle
Shadi B. Egypt Branded stickers and water bottle
t*******.h******@g**.d* Germany Branded stickers and water bottle
r*******@g****.c** Indonesia Branded stickers and water bottle
n****.m*******@g****.c** Italy Surprise branded swag
a***.e.s*******@g****.c** Sweden Surprise branded swag
n***@y****.c** Romania Surprise branded swag
Amirudin M. Malaysia Surprise branded swag
n*******@i*********.c** Canada Surprise branded swag
j********@g****.c** South Africa Branded stickers and socks
Tobias W. Germany Branded stickers and socks

Exclusive Community Prize Draw for members with 501+ points: Prizes: Vouchers, suprise swag, branded stickers and socks

Winner Country Prize
Rustam S. Russia $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
Mike I. United Kingdom $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
Shafiq J. Canada $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
f****.i******@g****.c** United Kingdom $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
h***************@g****.c** United States $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
Steve A. Ireland $50 Udemy or Amazon voucher
Lawrence M. United States Surprise branded swag
i*******@g****.c** United States Surprise branded swag
r******@g****.c** Spain Branded stickers and socks
Sandi P. Indonesia Branded stickers and socks
Aminu Ibrahim A. Nigeria Branded stickers and socks
Jakub G. Poland Branded stickers and socks
r*******@y****.c** United States Branded stickers and socks

Exclusive Community Prize Draw for members with 301+ points – Prizes: Branded suprise swag, stickers and socks

Winner Country Prize
m*****.d****.6*@g****.c** France Surprise branded swag
q**********@g****.c** Russia Surprise branded swag
c**********.c**@g****.c** United States Branded stickers and socks
Artur K. Russia Branded stickers and socks

General Prize Draw

Winner Country Prize
M*******@g****.c** Belarus Samsung Note
j********@h******.c** United States Microsoft Surface Pro 6
w*****************@o******.c** United States iPhone 11
Avinash S. India OnePlus 6T A6013 128GB
u*****.o*******@y****.c** Romania AWS Deep Racer
n**************@h******.c** Turkey Oculus Quest
d****@y****.c** Mexico Oculus Rift S
b**.k**@g****.c** Ukraine Samsung Chromebook 3
b********@g****.c** Ukraine Apple AirPods
r**********@g****.c** United States Tello
d***.e******@o******.c** United States Amazon Echo
b*******.r***@y*****.r* Russia Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
n****************@g****.c** India TOZO T10 TWS Bluetooth 5.0 Earbuds
Kudakwashe M. South Africa $30 Easyspace gift voucher
Oleksandr D. Ukraine $30 Easyspace gift voucher
Zubeir T. Kenya $20 voucher
Alexey P. Ukraine $20 voucher
j******@g****.c** Estonia $20 voucher
w*****.k.j******@g****.c** United States $20 voucher
b********@g****.c** Ukraine $20 voucher
Charles W. Australia $20 voucher
Bahram H. Azerbaijan $20 voucher
s**************@g****.c** India Steam $10 gift card
c*********@g****.c** United States Steam $10 gift card
Slava K. Russia Steam $10 gift card
a******.o*******@g****.c** Mexico Steam $10 gift card
m************@g****.c** India Steam $10 gift card
a****@u****.e** United States Steam $10 gift card
k*******@g****.c** Russia Steam $10 gift card
g*********@n****.c** Korea, South Steam $10 gift card
Yukikazu O. Japan Steam $10 gift card
Tina P. United States Steam $10 gift card
m******@g****.c** Russia Steam $10 gift card
Gerry O. United Kingdom Steam $10 gift card
************@y****.c** South Africa Steam $10 gift card
k********@i*****.c** United States Steam $10 gift card
b****.s*********@g****.c** United States Steam $10 gift card
s********@y****.c** United States Steam $10 gift card
e********@g****.c** Italy Steam $10 gift card
e***.t*********@g****.c** Slovakia Steam $10 gift card
m*************@g****.c** India Steam $10 gift card
b*****@g****.c** Turkey Steam $10 gift card
i***.u******@g****.c** Russia Steam $10 gift card
r**********@g****.c** France Steam $10 gift card
w.k**********@g****.c** Kenya Steam $10 gift card
j****.a*@g****.c** Brazil Steam $10 gift card
l**********@1**.c** China Steam $10 gift card
m***.l***.n******@g****.c** Argentina Steam $10 gift card
m*********@g****.c** Ukraine Steam $10 gift card
d**************@g****.c** India Steam $10 gift card
c*********@g****.c** United States Steam $10 gift card
r*********@g****.c** United States Steam $10 gift card
e********@m***.r* Russia 6 months SitePoint Premium Subscription
Mirza B. Pakistan 6 months SitePoint Premium Subscription
e**.s*********@g****.c** Indonesia 6 months SitePoint Premium Subscription
t*******************@g****.c** Nigeria 6 months SitePoint Premium Subscription
r**************@g****.c** India 6 months SitePoint Premium Subscription

The State of AR/VR Survey prize draw

Winner Country Prize
l**********@g****.c** Kenya Oculus Rift S
l************@o******.c** Australia Oculus Rift S
m************@g****.c** Germany Samsung HMD Odyssey
m**********@g****.c** Germany Samsung HMD Odyssey
h**********@g****.c** Turkey Echo Dot
c************@y****.c** United States Echo Dot
t************@g****.c** Hungary Echo Dot
h*****.a****@g****.c** India $40 RedBubble voucher to get dev swag
a****************@g****.c** Pakistan $40 RedBubble voucher to get dev swag
Q******@g****.c** Vietnam $40 RedBubble voucher to get dev swag
l**********@g****.c** Kenya MergeVR Goggles
t***************@g****.c** Hungary MergeVR Goggles
g*******@g****.c** India MergeVR Goggles
l**********@g****.c** Kenya WeMo Mini Smart Plug
h********.a**@g****.c** India WeMo Mini Smart Plug
l*******@g****.c** Kenya WeMo Mini Smart Plug
n***************@g****.c** Ukraine Udemy AR/VR course
Gourab C. India Udemy AR/VR course
i**********@y****.c** United States Udemy AR/VR course
n*************.1***@g****.c** India Developer Economics socks
l*********@g****.c** Kenya Developer Economics socks
p****************@g****.c** Russia Developer Economics socks
t*********@g****.c** Hungary Developer Economics socks
e*****.e***@g****.c** Turkey Developer Economics socks
Nguyễn D. Việt Nam Developer Economics socks
n************@g****.c** Ukraine Developer Economics socks
p********@g****.c** Russia Developer Economics socks
Umakant S. Myanmar Developer Economics socks
Nguyen H. Singapore Developer Economics socks

Extra Prize Draw

Winner Country Prize
e*************@g****.c** United States Echo Dot
g***********@g****.c** United States $40 RedBubble voucher to get dev swag
r*******@g****.c** India WeMo Mini Smart Plug
d*****@y****.c** Nigeria Echo Dot
Steve H. United Kingdom JBL GO 2 Portable Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker
Supriyo D. India Developer Economics Hoodie
p************@g****.c** Spain $30 Amazon gift card
Leonardo C. Brazil JBL GO 2 Portable Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker
k******@g****.c** United States Developer Economics Hoodie
Mike H. United States Echo Dot
e********@h******.c** Sweden NPET K10 Gaming Keyboard
r*******************@g****.c** India Steam gift card $20
s*********@g****.c** Canada Echo Dot
d*******@h******.c** India $40 RedBubble voucher to get dev swag
y******@i****.r* Belarus Developer Economics Hoodies
Snehha P. India TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip
Francisco M. Mexico $30 voucher
p****.t*******.t**@g****.c** Portugal Developer Economics Hoodie
s****************@g****.c** Nigeria Google Home Hub Smart Display
Catalin E. Romania WITTI Design BEDDI Glow
s.u**@d****.b** Italy $20 Udemy voucher
Sandeep P. India Clean Code by Bob Martin
Erdinç H. Turkey $40 RedBubble voucher to get dev swag
w**********@s***.c* Canada Developer Economics socks
Daniel R. Mexico Amazon Echo
m*********@g****.c** United States $40 Easyspace gift voucher
r**********@y****.i* Italy $20 gift voucher

We wrote to all prize winners yesterday by email. If you recognise the email fragment as yours and we haven’t contacted you, please drop us an email at

Please note that the list only includes prize-draw winners and not runner-ups. However, if the prize draw winners do not claim their prizes within 10 workings of us contacting them, then runner-ups will be invited to claim them instead.

Not a prize winner? Although you didn’t win this time, we have a new survey wave coming up and we’ve got our fingers crossed for you… Keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming survey wave. We’ll officially announce all the details (and the incredible prize list) in June 2020!

If you are not already a member of our developer community and would like to join, and win prizes like these, find out more here.