Fostering developers (was Re: Feature Request)

Shane H. W. Travis travis at
Fri Nov 19 04:58:32 UTC 2004

On Fri, 19 Nov 2004, Christian Robottom Reis wrote:

> -- I actually wrote to the list about this a while back; about how
> participating in an OSS project should be fun, and how we usually fail
> that that in Bugzilla.

Good summation. I'd be interested in reading the original, if anyone can
remember the time or title so I can look it up in the archives.

> Our worst problem is definitely the lack of reviewers -- it turns all
> other minor snags with the process catastrophes.

Amen, brother.

> Able reviewers who can take the time to sit down and stare at patches for
> hours are rare, and it's been hard nurturing more to come along.

Do you (does anyone) have any thoughts on *why* it has been hard? Is it a
lack of volunteers, or the internal culture of the existing group, or an
absence of guidelines to facilitate the process, or the attitude of one or
more individuals, or a lack of time/desire?

> I'm all for streamlining that process, and if you have any ideas that can
> foster reviewers coming on-board, I'd be happy to listen to them.

Well, I gave some of my ideas earlier, but I'll state the central one again;
feedback. People want to feel like they are needed, that what they are doing
matters, and that ultimately they're making a difference; being ignored
plays against all three of those things. Even *negative* feedback ('patch
rejected for X, Y, Z) is better than nothing, because then the person knows
at least that someone valued their contribution enough to look over it.

It doesn't have to be huge; nobody has to get a sore arm patting every new
contributor on the back or go hoarse singing their praises... just give a
little bit of encouragement wherever possible, in whatever capacity you've
got. A three-line comment (or e-mail) might take you all of ten minutes to
write, but it means a lot to someone who's just starting out.

If everyone takes time to do it, it'll make a big difference in contributor
retention rate, I'm sure.

Shane H.W. Travis       | Anyone who is capable of getting themselves
travis at    |  made President should on no account be allowed
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan |  to do the job.  -- Douglas Adams, HHGTTG

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