4  Participation in Astropy

Our second research question asked “How do community members participate in Astropy?” We wanted to know how people used Astropy resources and community, what they used it for beyond just the software products.

This section is divided into two subsections a) positive attributes of Astropy and b) data on how people reported engaging with Astropy.

4.1 Positive Attributes of Astropy

We asked respondents in a free response survey question to tell us what they liked about Astropy and several themes emerged.

The words that we saw respondents repeatedly use to describe Astropy were: friendly, collaborative, welcoming, inclusive, useful, helpful, open, responsive, knowledgeable, thoughtful, responsive & supportive.

Generally people found Astropy to find high quality, well documented software which is useful for their work. They like how open, friendly and welcoming the community is, mentioning how supportive the feedback is and that leadership is strong and that there is a focus on learning.

4.1.1 High Quality Software

Respondents said that Astropy creates high quality, well-documented software as one of the reasons they like the organization.

Amazing, high quality, well tested software. Much of it is built by early career researchers who deserve better rewards!

It generates high-quality astronomy software.

Supportive, careful, high quality code.

They write fantastic code.

They are inclusive, thoughtful, and help develop and steward a truly wonderful (useful, user-friendly, powerful, versatile) software product.

4.1.2 Useful

Respondents said that they used Astropy software in their work and described it as practical, reliable and useful. Several respondents mention that it is a core part of the work they do.

Commitment to standardizing useful software

It is a dedicated community that has created a very strong, reliable software base! Makes it so easy to develop new tools on which my research group relies extensively.

I like how practical the package is, it's all but central to all my work now.

I use Astropy, so I like the community that maintains it.

Very welcoming, nice group of people that are focused on making a practical tool for astronomy

4.1.3 Openness

Another theme was the importance of the software being open. This was often paired with a comment about kindness or the helpfulness of the people in the organization.

Super open, collaborative, helpful folks. It attracts the best and kindest astronomers in the field.

I like open source software, have a background in Astronomy and look forward to contributing more after retiring at the end of the month

It’s open source and most of the people are helpful and have similar kinds of coding/software problems as me

4.1.4 Friendly

The word “friendly” was used often in describing Astropy largely in terms of the friendliness of the community.

Friendly and shared interests

Always helpful and friendly.

It’s a friendly, inclusive community that [creates] useful, pragmatic software development standards.

4.1.5 Welcoming Community

Survey respondents talked about the inclusive and welcoming nature of the community when describing what they like about Astropy. In particular, people commented on the way that the community makes it possible for beginners or people who are new to be included.

It's a community that is very supportive and welcoming of people who are starting out as users/contributors

I appreciate how inclusive it is. It has a great group of contributors.

It's a lot of people who have similar use cases and very different solutions. A large group of people

Since I joined… I was welcomed into the community, and worked my way up to leadership positions that align with my values.

4.1.6 Constructive Feedback and Support

Another theme was the sense that the community offers helpful and constructive responses to questions as well as feedback and support that is helpful and friendly.

Friendly response to first contributors. Generally a real attempt to be constructive in PR review (and keep a sense of humor, especially pllim; thanks!!)

On the FB group I’ve been floored by the way everyone is respectful to questioners, even if they approach with little prior knowledge. I am so, so grateful for everyone involved in Astropy development - it has absolutely transformed my work from IDL days.

Most of my interactions with the broader Astropy community have been supportive, even including code reviews.

You can ask questions and people are prompt to give feedback.

I think Astropy pundits are inclined to help out with user questions.

4.1.7 Leadership

Respondents described the leadership of Astropy as transparent and well organized.

I think the decisions made by the community and those in leadership positions are done in a way that is as transparent as is reasonable.

thought has been put into the collaboration and contribution guidelines

It's active and continues to put in effort to improve engagement and its structure as an organization.

4.1.8 Other

Additional comments responding to what people liked about Astropy are:

Interesting discussions involving celestial mechanics.

Supportive, great resources for students

4.2 How to Engage with Astropy

We asked a series of questions designed to gather data on the specific ways that respondents engaged with Astropy, these are summarized below. Specifically we looked at respondent’s engagement with GitHub and software development, documentation and educational modules and how they used Astropy in their work.

4.2.1 GitHub and Software Development

We wanted to get a sense of how respondents had personally engaged with GitHub. We asked if respondents had opened an issue on GitHub, 51% reported not having opened an issue, 49% had either in the past year or earlier.

We also asked if respondents had entered comments on an existing issue. 65% had not commented on an already open issue, with 25% having responded to an issue in the last year, and about 10% having done so greater than a year ago.

When asked if respondents had contributed code to Astropy, 67% have not, while 33% had, 20% in the past year, and 13% greater than a year ago.

When asked if respondents contribute to other software that is dependent upon Astropy, 55% of respondents reported having done so in the past year, with a further 6% having done so more than a year ago. Leaving 39% of respondents who had not.

When asked about contributing to or maintaining affiliated packages, 24% had done so, 19% in the past year, and 5% more than a year ago. Most respondents, 76% report they have never done so.

4.2.2 Documentation and Educational Modules

With the exception of two respondents, every respondent had used the Astropy documentation in the past. Most, (n=90) had used the documentation in the last year.

Similarly we asked about the use of Astropy tutorials that are available through the https://learn.astropy.org website. 51 respondents had used these in the last year, and 29 had more than a year ago. Only 13 had never used the Astropy tutorials.

We asked about the use of Astropy developed materials in teaching activities, and 31 respondents had in the last year, and 18 more than a year ago. 43 respondents had not used the tutorials in teaching situations.

We also asked if respondents had ever attended an in-person Astropy workshop, or other in person event. 68% had never attended an in-person Astropy event, while 19% had more than a year ago, and 13% in the last year.

4.2.3 Astropy at Work

When asked if Astropy software is used in the course of people’s work, 91 had in the last year, 2 more than a year ago and only 3 respondents had not.