CHI 2013
Conference paper

The whats and hows of programmers' foraging diets

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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. Copyright © 2013 ACM.