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Identifying requirements for technical debt bots

Technical debt (TD) refers to non-optimal decisions that are made during software development (e.g., create a workaround for a problem) [1], and sometimes, it is documented using issue tracking systems [2]. In such systems, general-purpose bots can be used to automate some task (e.g.,open, close, and comment), which could benefit and support the management of TD. Nonetheless, since general-purpose bots do not provide specific support for TD management, it is still necessary to extend them or develop new bots.

To enable such extensions, a deeper understanding of the rationale behind those tasks (i.e., the functionalities provided by the bots) is still necessary. This information can provide useful hints on why (and how) developers use such bots, and support the elicitation of requirements for bots focused on TD management.

The goal of this project is to identify and classify the functionalities of general-purpose bots that can be used as drivers for enhancing the support for TD management. The student can expect to work in an empirical study, mainly based on mining software repositories (e.g., hosted on GitHub) and grounded theory [4]. Thus, this project involves collecting and analyzing data using different tools and frameworks (e.g., Jupyter Notebooks, R Studio, and others), as well as qualitative analysis (e.g., coding).


[1] Paris Avgeriou, Philippe Kruchten, Ipek Ozkaya, and Carolyn Seaman. 2016. Managing Technical Debt in Software Engineering (Dagstuhl Seminar 16162). Dagstuhl Reports 6, 4 (2016), 110–138.

[2] Yikun Li, Mohamed Soliman, Paris Avgeriou and Lou Somers. 2022. Self-Admitted Technical Debt in the Embedded Systems Industry: An Exploratory Case Study. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering.

[3] Wessel, M., Steinmacher, I., Wiese, I., Gerosa, M. Should I Stale or Should I Close? An Analysis of a Bot that Closes Abandoned Issues and Pull Requests. 1st International Workshop on Bots in Software Engineering (BotSE).2019.

[4] Strauss, A., and Corbin, J. Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques. Sage Publications, 1990


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