Deconstructing Sentimental Stack Overflow Posts Through Interviews

Exploring the Case of Software Testing

Accepted at CHASE 2023 Registered Reports Track

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 · Mark Swillus  · Andy Zaidman
Table of contents

The analysis of sentimental posts about software testing on Stack Overflow reveals that motivation and commitment of developers to use software testing methods is not only influenced by tools and technology. Rather, attitudes are also influenced by socio-technical factors. No prior studies have attempted to talk with Stack Overflow users about the sentimental posts that they write, yet, this is crucial to understand their experiences of which their post is only a fragment. As such, this study explores the precursors that make developers write sentimental posts about software testing on Stack Overflow. Through semi-structured interviews, we reconstruct the individual experiences of Stack Overflow users leading to sentimental posts about testing. We use the post as an anchor point to explore the events that lead to it and how users moved on in the meantime. Using strategies from socio-technical grounded theory (STGT), we derive hypotheses about the socio-technical factors that cause sentiment towards software testing.

About this publication

This publication was accepted at the CHASE 2023 Registered Report Track. It does not present the results of a research project. Instead it outlines a research plan that will be executed after its presentation at the conference.

What is a Registered Report?

A registered report (RR) allows researchers to register their study design with a conference or journal before beginning their investigation. Unlike traditional publishing models, the approval of a RR is also a commitment to publish the study's outcome independent of its results.

What's the point?

By registering a study, researchers receive valuable early feedback on the hypotheses they want to test and the methods they want to use to do that. Another aim is to prevent HARKing (hypothesizing after the results are known). The paper resulting from the investigation will be published, even if the outcomes are not spectacular or if the results are negative. This encourages researchers to be honest about their findings. No compromise needs to be made by the researcher in order to meet publication goals which are often imposed by research institutes. RRs therefore promote the scientific imperative of disinterestedness.

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