Preparing the User Research


I’ll follow the guide because I forgot most of it since the last time (2019). In the following software is used instead of Free Software to keep the research focused on activities related to software available to the general public (as opposed to being guarded by an access mechanism of some kind) and published under a Free Software license. The activities related to software that is not visible to the general public or that is published under a license that is not Free Software are significantly more complex and would require significantly more work.

Create a user-focused how-and-why question based on the initial idea for the project

  1. The initial idea is an online service that allows a user to interact with a software project hosted on one forge while using another forge.
  2. The meaningful activity is to develop software.
  3. How and why are multiple forges used in the development life cycle of a given software?

Find participants

There are three personas (Free Software developer, Forge developer, Forge maintainer) and there needs to be at least three interviews for each persona.

Legend: :question: Kindly asked, :white_check_mark: agreed, :clock1: scheduled, :microphone: : recorded, :spiral_notepad: transcribed & published

Free Software developer

They are either serious hobbyists or professionals who participated in software development for several years. They have used more than one forge, simultaneously or because they had to migrate a project from one forge to another. The software they develop have dependencies to other software for which they either track issues related to features/bugs or provide patches.

Forge developer

They work (or worked) on a forge software. They are involved in defining new features, figuring out the user needs, either as independent contributors or as a company employee. They use the forge on which they are working on a daily basis, i.e. dogfooding. They have a good understanding of the User Interface and how it is defined as well as the backend supporting it. They are involved in release management, know how to analyze integration test failures and are conscious of the tradeoff involved in maintaining backward compatibility.

The developers working on forges that have developed a strategy to lock-in their users such as SourceForge, GitHub or GitLab enterprise are not considered. Their ultimate goal is either to prevent their users from using multiple forges or to only support one migration path: from other forges to their own. As a consequence their input would be strongly biased to favor their own needs: it would obscure the needs of the users instead of revealing them.

Forge maintainer

They are either independent system administrators or manager of an organization maintaining a forge that is either publicly available (such as or targeting a selected audience (such as They were involved in choosing the forge software and defining the production environment, backups, RGPD compliance, import and export policies.