In Memoriam contribution - Contribute your own path
I have been told that the credit system could be enhanced on drupal.org. I agree. Even if I don’t know what is the truth about contribution credits, I would like to share an intimate one time experience about contribution to a free open source project.
It’s all about contributing your own way. This experience deals with Drupal but it may apply to any other free open source project.
Since many years, I contribute to Drupal through community, events, reviews, patches, translations, mentoring future contributors… and I got few credits, but I am not frustrated about it. I love this community. I love free open source projects which I think are the best way to develop software, countries and people.
In memoriam contribution story
2016, Drupal Dev Days Milan:
I talk to Frederic: « Have you seen this new rule about dependencies? ».
Frederic: « Yes, I did the patch for token. ».
During this Drupal Dev Days I live a very frustating contribution experience trying to mentor some new contributors while contributing myself on a much too commented issue. I loose my contribution time.
2018, July, Drupal Dev Days Lisbon:
I am waiting for new contributors to mentor. I decide to do some simple contributions between two new contributors to mentor. I remember the new rule, and check some great modules about it. Surprise: After 3 yers, some of these modules do not apply the new rule yet. I do some patches to enhance them.
2018, August, France:
I am back from holidays. One week later, my sister calls me « Mommy’s gonna die soon, can you come? ». I drive a long time to the hospital where my mother is waiting for me.
When we have all organized for her funerals, she passes. She was really waiting for my sisters and I to be close before passing.
This is a great honor to assist your mother when she is to pass. It may looks sad, but it is an intense moment that I encourage you to live... as late as possible.
What can I do to honor Mom?
- I could bring flowers every day, but I live far far away.
- I could deliver a brilliant eulogy and move on.
- I could walk from Lyon in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, a path of 1500 km walk. It would take some months and would be my best choice.
I need to do some thing very different, worthless but useful. I will walk virtualy small paths.
Mom, in memoy of you, I will review 1 000 modules for the rule I began to check in Lisbon. 100 could be easier, but it is not enough. 500 is not round. Let’s got for 1 000. One hour after this promise, I feel I am crazy and it’s ridiculous but I promise.
My goal is not to contribute 1 000 patches. It is only to check 1000 modules without knowing how many need a patch, and when needed, to provide the patch. Like when you walk you pick up a piece of paper or plastic thrown away, and you don’t ask people around to grab it because they should.
Day by day, I do reviews before working, at lunch time, during breaks, on work time, on free time… This may look like making your fingers warm. Some modules are easy to patch, some more complex, some time time a bit boring...
At the beginning it is mostly funny, and rewarding, then more and more an heavy task. As I can’t contribute every day, I write my « pathbook », so I may known where I stopped last time, when I check this module, how far is the end of my trip.I learn about many modules, and even about people around and behind modules. Many maintainers are very kind and appreciate my help. One day, I receive some twits from a guy that I are feel are inquisitive. I do not want to tell my personal story now because I don’t known if I will arrive to the end or not. I know what I am doing is useful for the project, but I feel this twits like an attack and close the discussion.
He do not give me credit for my patch. No worry, I do not provide patches to get points. I appreciate to be useful, get back thanks and hellos, meet a lot of friends. Credit points are the icing on the cake.
I’m doing this for something beyond us, life, death, the cycle of life…
C’est la vie, c’est l’amour.
2018, October, France:
For my Dad, it is too late. I can’t arrive on time. He do not wait for me. He passes. The moment is less intense than for mom, but what can I do for his memory?
I don’t need to search a long time. I will do the same trip that I am walking for mom. I will review 1 000 more modules.
My « pathbook » is really useful because as I walk through modules’pages on drupal.org, path changes. I meet modules that I already met, or modules that I didn’t checked because their position changed.
I still think that my trip is intimate. More and more boring some time. Rewarding for example when I review a module of a maintainer to whom I provided a patch on another module and that applied patches to his other modules. After a long walk, I can imagine the end the tunnel. I will arrive. I will able to contribute to something else.
In the end, I am tired, but proud because I achieved what I promised Mom and Dad.
Suggestions to new contributors in open source projects
When you consider contributing, do not wait for credits. You will get or not get credits. Even if you never get a single credit, you will get much more rewards in your soul (friendship, achieving a good module, skills, proudness...).
- Contibute for yourself,
- Contrbute for your family, friends,
- Contribute for your customer, your boss,
- Contribute to learn, to share,
- Contribute for your community, your country...
Contribute for what ever you like.
You’re the one that decide why you contribute. Of course, try to follow the project contribution guidelines, but choose on your own why and on what you contribute.
Suggestions to the Drupal community
Emmanuel tells me that I am worldwide contributor number 12 over 2018-2019, as of Dries post (Who sponsors Drupal development? (2018-2019 edition)).
That’s great. Thanks Dries, thanks Emmanuel. I am proud.
As I said to Frederic, it’s a bit of a coincidence [If my mother was still here I will not have done all these patches], but thinking to the many contributions I do since many years, I can enjoy.
It is also a surprise because I think that there are greater contributors than me.
The most difficult issue is « what do we consider to calculate contribution credits ?»
When I have a look at my issue queues, I still have tens of RTBC but not committed patches. Is this because maintainers do not want to give too many credits to others. I don’t know.
IMHO, here are some of the suggestions I would do:
- continue to use credits as bounties,
- do not let getting credits become a business,
- make the contribution more enjoyable, like a "serious" game,
- enable the contribution process to move faster to see the outcome of its efforts,
- take into account the overall effort done to achieve the project goals,
- use weighting coefficients,
- give more credits to more people to encourage contribution,
- give credits on more diverse contributions (translation, community, documentation…),
- get to a point where people may give credits easily without fear for their own ranking,
- not to point out those who contribute a lot or get a lot of credits even if it is infrequent,
while keeping it simple, and easy to understand.
And remind that credits are only part of the pleasure of contributions!
Credits ( ;-) )
Thank you Louise, thank you Gabriel.
Thank you for reading this post,
Thank you for being part of a free open source project,
Thank you for still being human.