(Unmaintained) FOSS Heartbeat analyses the health of a community of contributors. 💓
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Open source communities are made of people, who contribute in many different ways. What makes a person more likely to continue participating in a project and move into roles of greater responsibility?

Identifying contributors

foss-heartbeat identifies seven major contribution types:

  • Issue reporter
  • Issue responder
  • Code contributor
  • Documentation contributor
  • Reviewer
  • Maintainer
  • Connector

This project uses contributor participation data (currently from GitHub) to categorize users into these seven roles.

Answering key contribution questions

Performing data analysis on this participation data seeks to answer questions about what factors attract and retain those types of contributors.

While there are many different questions you could ask once you categorize contributors and examine their contributions, the first major goal of this project is to answer the question:

What impact does positive or negative language have on contributor participation?

foss-heartbeat seeks to answer that question by applying sentiment analysis on the comments community members make on others' contributions.


If you don't have Python installed, follow the instructions in the Django Girls installation guide.

Clone the repository, change to the directory containing the repository.

$ pip install -r requirements.txt

May require sudo. If sudo fails, try passing the --user flag.

Install Stanford CoreNLP

Stanford CoreNLP includes natural language processing and a neural network (a type of machine learning tool) that can learn how to recognize sentiment at a sentence level.

These installation directions are slightly expanded upon from the installation directions at http://stanfordnlp.github.io/CoreNLP/index.html#download.

Clone the git repo:

$ git clone git@github.com:stanfordnlp/CoreNLP.git

Copy the default sentiment models into the liblocal directory:

$ cd CoreNLP/liblocal
$ wget http://nlp.stanford.edu/software/stanford-corenlp-models-current.jar
$ wget http://nlp.stanford.edu/software/stanford-english-corenlp-models-current.jar

(Note: the directions on the Stanford CoreNLP for how to set the classpath didn't work for me. Instead, I used the -Djava.ext.dirs=lib:liblocal flag to point Java to the sentiment models I placed in CoreNLP/liblocal.)


Scrape information from GitHub

First, scrape information from GitHub for each repository you're analyzing. Note that this step may require several hours or even a day, due to GitHub API rate limits.


If you prefer not to type your password into a file, or have turned on two-factor authentication for your GitHub account, use an access token instead:


(Make sure to select the following scopes for your token: public_repo.)


Next, run the script to categorize GitHub interactions into different types of open source contributions:

$ python ghcategorize.py GITHUB_REPO_NAME GITHUB_OWNER_NAME


Then generate HTML reports with statistics (note that this imports functions from ghreport.py):

$ python ghstats.py GITHUB_REPO_NAME GITHUB_OWNER_NAME docs/

The HTML report will be created in docs/GITHUB_OWNER_NAME/GITHUB_REPO_NAME. You will need to hand-edit docs/index.html to link to docs/GITHUB_OWNER_NAME/GITHUB_REPO_NAME/foss-heartbeat.html.

(Optional) Train the Stanford CoreNLP sentiment model

Sentiment analysis relies on being trained with a large set of sentences that are relevant to the text you want to study. For example, hand-analyzed sentences from one open source project may be used to train the sentiment model to automatically analyze another project.

The Stanford CoreNLP sentiment models are trained on movie reviews and aren't very good for analyzing sentiment of code reviews. They tend to look at the sentence structure of technical comments and rank them as a negative tone, even if there are no negative words. They're also not trained for curse words or emojis.

The Stanford CoreNLP includes a way to retrain the neural network to recognize sentiment of sentence structures. You have to feed it a training set (their training set is ~8,000 sentences) and a development set that helps you tune parameters of the neural net. Both sets have to be sentences that are manually turned into Penn Tree format.

You can find FOSS Heartbeat's training set in empathy-model/train.txt and its development set in empathy-model/dev.txt.

The sentences in the training model are taken from open source projects: LKML, Debian-devel mailing list, glibc, AngularJS, .NET, Elm, React, Fsharp, Idris, jQuery, VS Code, Node.js, Rails, Rust, Servo, and Bootstrap.

There are around 10-20 simple sentences that I hoped would help train the model. I've also included sentiment for all the curse words found at http://www.noswearing.com/dictionary and all the short-hand codes for emojis at http://www.webpagefx.com/tools/emoji-cheat-sheet/.

If you make changes to train.txt and dev.txt, you can retrain the model:

$ cd path/to/CoreNLP
$ java -cp stanford-corenlp.jar -Djava.ext.dirs=lib:liblocal -mx5g \
    edu.stanford.nlp.sentiment.SentimentTraining -numHid 25 \
    -trainPath path/to/foss-heartbeat/empathy-model/training.txt \
    -devPath path/to/foss-heartbeat/empathy-model/dev.txt -train \
    -model path/to/foss-heartbeat/empathy-model/empathy-model.ser.gz

Running the sentiment model in stdin mode

In the CoreNLP directory, you can run a test of the default sentiment model. This parses sentences from stdin after you hit enter, but be aware that it returns one line for multiple lines fed into it at once, rather than using the sentence parser like the -file option does.

$ cd path/to/CoreNLP
$ java -cp stanford-corenlp.jar -Djava.ext.dirs=lib:liblocal \
  -mx5g edu.stanford.nlp.sentiment.SentimentPipeline -stdin -output pennTrees

-mx5g specifies that 5GB is the maximum amount of RAM to use.

-output pennTrees specifies that the Stanford CoreNLP output the full sentence sentiment analysis. To get an idea of what the format means, take a look at the live demo. Removing that flag will change the output mode to only stating the overall sentence tone (very negative, negative, neutral, positive, very positive).

If you wish to run the sentiment analysis using FOSS Heartbeat's empathy model, you should instead run:

$ cd path/to/CoreNLP
$ java -cp stanford-corenlp.jar -Djava.ext.dirs=lib:liblocal -mx5g \
    edu.stanford.nlp.sentiment.SentimentPipeline -stdin \
    -sentimentModel path/to/foss-heartbeat/empathy-model/empathy-model.ser.gz \
    -output pennTrees

language/substitutions.txt contains a list of word sentiment labels that need to be relabeled from the default Stanford CoreNLP Penn Tree output. The Stanford CoreNLP default model was trained on movie reviews, so it incorrectly labels words we find in software development conversation. For example, 'Christian' is labeled as positive, since people may leave a review about the positivity of Christian movies; in software development, 'Christian' is most likely someone's name. Since FOSS Heartbeat's model is trained to recognize empathy and praise as positive, and personal attacks as negative, we often have to shift the sentiment of specific words.

You can use substitutions.txt to change word sentiment labels in the sentences from the default sentiment model. It involves stripping the '%' off the Vim substitution commands in substitutions.txt, using the resulting file as a sed regular expression file, and piping the output from the sentiment model into sed:

$ cd path/to/CoreNLP
$ cat path/to/foss-heartbeat/language/substitutions.txt | \
    sed -e 's/^%//' > /tmp/subs.txt; \
    java -cp stanford-corenlp.jar -Djava.ext.dirs=lib:liblocal -mx5g \
    edu.stanford.nlp.sentiment.SentimentPipeline -stdin -output pennTrees | \
    sed -f /tmp/subs.txt

Once this is done, you can feed interesting examples in and put them in empathy-model/train.txt or empathy-model/dev.txt to retrain FOSS Heartbeat's model. You will need to manually propagate up any sentiment changes from the innermost sentence fragments to the root of the sentence. This is something that needs to be done by human eyes, since the sentence tone can change when different sentence fragments are combined.

Scrub comments for sentiment analysis

In order to cut down on the amount of time that the Stanford CoreNLP has to process sentences, we need to drop any inline code that is (most likely) to be ranked as neutral, or may be miscategorized because the model hasn't been trained on that particular language.

We also convert any Unicode emojis into their short-hand codes (as described at http://www.webpagefx.com/tools/emoji-cheat-sheet/), which makes it easier on humans to read analyzed plain-text sentences.

It also takes time for the Stanford CoreNLP to load the models. It is faster to write a bunch of text to a file and use the -file command line option to parse a file, than to re-run the command for each sentence. Thus, there is a FOSS Heartbeat script that generates a scrubbed file of all comments in a repo that you can feed to Stanford CoreNLP.

The output file will contain the filenames (preceded by a hashmark) and the contents of the scrubbed comments. Sentences may span multiple lines, and the Stanford CoreNLP will break them up using its sentence parser. It does mean that things like lists or sentences that don't end with punctuation will get joined with the next line.

To generate the scrubbed file, run:

$ python ../src/ghsentiment.py owner/repo/ owner/repo/all-comments.txt --recurse

Run the scrubbed data through the sentiment analysis

To use FOSS Heartbeat's retrained empathy model on the scrubbed comments file, run:

$ cd path/to/CoreNLP
$ java -cp stanford-corenlp.jar -Djava.ext.dirs=lib:liblocal -mx5g \
    edu.stanford.nlp.sentiment.SentimentPipeline -output pennTrees \
    -sentimentModel path/to/foss-heartbeat/empathy-model/empathy-model.ser.gz \
    -file path/to/owner/repo/all-comments.txt > \

Modifying the sentiment training data

In order to retrain the sentiment model, you need to add parsed sentences with Penn Tree sentiment for each word. You'll need to add about one sentence to empathy-model/dev.txt for every eight similar sentences you add to empathy-model/train.txt.

Penn Tree sentence format initially looks very strange:

(4 (2 Again) (4 (2 this) (4 (4 (2 is) (4 (4 super) (3 (3 great) (2 work)))) (2 .))))

Each word, and each combined sentence part, has an associated sentiment from zero to four. In the empathy model, the following categorizations are used:

  • 4 (Very positive): Thank yous with emphasis (great or great!), or specific praise
  • 3 (Positive): Thanks, praise, encouragement, empathy, helping others, and apologies
  • 2 (Neutral): Any talk about code that includes opinions without expressing gratitude, empathy, cursing, or discriminatory language
  • 1 (Negative): Comments about code or people with mild cursing or abelist language
  • 0 (Very Negative): Comments with strong cursing, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. language

It can sometimes be easier to see how sentence sentiment changes as its parsed phrases are combined, by putting it in a tree format:

   (2 Again)
      (2 this)
            (2 is)
               (4 super)
                  (3 great)
                  (2 work))))
         (2 .))))

There's a good visualization tool by the Standford CoreNLP developers, but it is not open source and uses the default sentiment model trained on movie reviews.

Vim Tips and Tricks

In order for people to better "see" the sentiment in Penn Tree text files, you can use this Vim plugin to highlight the sentiment labels. You'll need to modify the plugins/highlight.csv files to have the following lines:


When you open a Penn Tree file, you can run the following commands to highlight sentiment:

Highlight 7 0
Highlight 6 1
Highlight 9 3
Highlight 8 4

Most open source code talk is neutral, so I don't bother to highlight the 2 sentiment.

Additionally, when comparing the sentiment results from two different models, it's useful to have vimdiff only highlight the individual words (or in our case, the sentiment labels) that have changed, rather than highlighting the whole line. This Vim plugin highlights only changed words when Vim is in diff mode.