Episode 46

Social Science Theories with Erin Staples


22 October 2021

36 mins 18 secs

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About this Episode

Hello and welcome to CHAOSScast Community podcast, where we share use cases and experiences with measuring open source community health. Elevating conversations about metrics, analytics, and software from the Community Health Analytics Open Source Software, or short CHAOSS Project, to wherever you like to listen. Today, our guest is Erin Staples, who works as a Community Advocate at Orbit. She is with us to talk about social science theories and what we can learn from other communities. Erin tells us the importance of making sure your contributors feel valued, creating a very inclusive, mindful environment online, and she explains how we can learn a lot from how Fandom communities measure health. She goes in depth about behaviors at gatherings such as conferences and she shares advice in creating online spaces. Download this episode now to find out much more, and don’t forget to subscribe for free to this podcast on your favorite podcast app and share this podcast with your friends and colleagues.

[00:02:00] Erin fills us in a little on her background and about what they do at Orbit with building a healthy community in the online space.

[00:03:38] How did Erin get so interested in this topic?

[00:05:33] For the social science conversation and Fandom, Erin talks about how she started to explore this huge topic. She tells us about a journal article she loves from Rachel Winter, Anastasia Salter, and Mel Stanfill who wrote about the “Communities of making: Exploring parallels between Fandom and open source.”

[00:09:02] Erin explains more about the behaviors and how they happen at gatherings and in the Fandom world.

[00:13:30] Georg brings up how open source is changing and has changed over the years with more organizations getting involved in creation of software and paying employees to be in these communities and Erin shares her thoughts about how this may be changing the dynamic. The Founder of Linux, Linus Torvalds, comes up in conversation as well.

[00:19:47] Venia tells us about a website called Budget Light Forum and Erin talks about “the medium is the message,” which is a quote from Marshall McLuhan and how this relates to the way we think about online spaces and how we transmit information.

[00:24:44] Georg brings up a great point if you want to understand the community you actually have to talk to the community members and ask them how that makes them feel, if they feel welcome and included, etc., and Erin and Venia share their thoughts on this.

[00:28:11] As more people are working online, maintainer burnout in open source is discussed, which existed before COVID, with pressure to maintain the quality of code and for being responsive and they’re not feeling appreciated.

[00:30:41] Erin talks about some action steps to creating online spaces and shares an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

[00:32:04] Find out where you can follow Erin online.

Adds (Picks) of the week:

  • [00:32:46] Georg’s pick is re-reading the Eragon series in English.
  • [00:33:38] Venia’s pick is a book called Systematic Methods for Analyzing Culture: A Practical Guide.
  • [00:34:22] Erin’s pick is a book called A City is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences.


  • Georg Link
  • Venia Logan


  • Erin Staples



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