Emoji Promotes Developer Participation and Issue Resolution on GitHub

30 Aug 2023  ·  YuHang Zhou, Xuan Lu, Ge Gao, Qiaozhu Mei, Wei Ai ·

Although remote working is increasingly adopted during the pandemic, many are concerned by the low-efficiency in the remote working. Missing in text-based communication are non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language, which hinders the effective communication and negatively impacts the work outcomes. Prevalent on social media platforms, emojis, as alternative non-verbal cues, are gaining popularity in the virtual workspaces well. In this paper, we study how emoji usage influences developer participation and issue resolution in virtual workspaces. To this end, we collect GitHub issues for a one-year period and apply causal inference techniques to measure the causal effect of emojis on the outcome of issues, controlling for confounders such as issue content, repository, and author information. We find that emojis can significantly reduce the resolution time of issues and attract more user participation. We also compare the heterogeneous effect on different types of issues. These findings deepen our understanding of the developer communities, and they provide design implications on how to facilitate interactions and broaden developer participation.

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