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The whats and hows of programmers' foraging diets

TitleThe whats and hows of programmers' foraging diets
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsPiorkowski, D. J., S. D. Fleming, I. Kwan, M. M. Burnett, C. Scaffidi, R. Bellamy, and J. Jordahl
Tertiary AuthorsMackay, W. E., S. Brewster, and S. Bødker
Conference NameProceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI '13
Date Published05/2012
PublisherACM Press
Conference LocationParis, France
ISBN Number9781450318990

One of the least studied areas of Information Foraging Theory is diet: the information foragers choose to seek. For example, do foragers choose solely based on cost, or do they stubbornly pursue certain diets regardless of cost? Do their debugging strategies vary with their diets? To investigate "what" and "how" questions like these for the domain of software debugging, we qualitatively analyzed 9 professional developers' foraging goals, goal patterns, and strategies. Participants spent 50% of their time foraging. Of their foraging, 58% fell into distinct dietary patterns - mostly in patterns not previously discussed in the literature. In general, programmers' foraging strategies leaned more heavily toward enrichment than we expected, but different strategies aligned with different goal types. These and our other findings help fill the gap as to what programmers' dietary goals are and how their strategies relate to those goals.