Beyond Technical Aspects: How Do Community Smells Influence the Intensity of Code Smells?

Fabio Palomba, Damian Andrew Tamburri, Francesca Arcelli Fontana, Rocco Oliveto, Andy Zaidman, Alexander Serebrenik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


Code smells are poor implementation choices applied by developers during software evolution that often lead to critical flaws or failure. Much in the same way, community smells reflect the presence of organizational and socio-Technical issues within a software community that may lead to additional project costs. Recent empirical studies provide evidence that community smells are often-if not always-connected to circumstances such as code smells. In this paper we look deeper into this connection by conducting a mixed-methods empirical study of 117 releases from 9 open-source systems. The qualitative and quantitative sides of our mixed-methods study were run in parallel and assume a mutually-confirmative connotation. On the one hand, we survey 162 developers of the 9 considered systems to investigate whether developers perceive relationship between community smells and the code smells found in those projects. On the other hand, we perform a fine-grained analysis into the 117 releases of our dataset to measure the extent to which community smells impact code smell intensity (i.e., criticality). We then propose a code smell intensity prediction model that relies on both technical and community-related aspects. The results of both sides of our mixed-methods study lead to one conclusion: community-related factors contribute to the intensity of code smells. This conclusion supports the joint use of community and code smells detection as a mechanism for the joint management of technical and social problems around software development communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8546762
Pages (from-to)108-129
Number of pages22
JournalIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Code smells
  • community smells
  • mixed-methods study
  • organizational structure


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