Refactoring community smells in the wild: The practitioner’s field manual

Gemma Catolino, Fabio Palomba, Damian Tamburri, Alexander Serebrenik, Filomena Ferrucci

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Community smells have been defined as sub-optimal organizational structures that may lead to social debt. Previous studies have shown that they are highly diffused in both open- and closed-source projects, are perceived as harmful by practitioners, and can even lead to the introduction of technical debt in source code. Despite the presence of this body of research, little is known on the practitioners' perceived prominence of community smells in practice as well as on the strategies adopted to deal with them. This paper aims at bridging this gap by proposing an empirical study in which 76 software practitioners are inquired on (i) the prominence of four well-known community smells, i.e., Organizational Silo, Black Cloud, Lone Wolf, and Radio Silence, in their contexts and (ii) the methods they adopted to "refactor" them. Our results first reveal that community smells frequently manifest themselves in software projects and, more importantly, there exist specific refactoring practices to deal with each of the considered community smells.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2020 ACM/IEEE 42nd International Conference on Software Engineering
Subtitle of host publicationSoftware Engineering Education and Training, ICSE-SEET 2020
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450371247
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2020
EventIEEE/ACM 42nd International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering in Society (ICSE-SEIS 2020) - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 23 May 202029 May 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering
ISSN (Print)0270-5257


ConferenceIEEE/ACM 42nd International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering in Society (ICSE-SEIS 2020)
Abbreviated titleICSE_SEIS2020
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of
Internet address


  • Community Smells
  • Empirical Software Engineering
  • Social Debt

Cite this