Learnings from Drupal Contributions: What mistakes we made
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Learnings from Drupal Contributions: What mistakes we made

author By Ishan Mahajan Sep 30, 2020
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Our Drupal contributions history

Srijan has been part of the Drupal community for over 12 years. From very early on, we (Srijan) have been contributing to the Drupal project in multiple ways, from sponsoring nearly all DrupalCons since 2013, to regularly contributing code to core and contrib projects.

Many of our people have been mentors for new contributors at DrupalCons and local meetups. For the past 2-3 years, we even had a dedicated open-source community manager within the organization.

 

One of the earliest Drupal.org media case studies, published in 2009

Due to the COVID pandemic, we had a fairly large bench earlier this year. Given this, we decided to create three dedicated contribution teams to leverage this time efficiently and increase our contributions. During the same time, Drupal India Association (DIA) had set out a big-hairy-audacious-goal (BHAG) of putting DIA among the highest contributors globally.

Years of contributions and the above 2 events improved our overall ranking in the Drupal marketplace.

Where we fell short

Highly motivated by the dual goal of putting DIA on the marketplace and improving Srijan's ranking in the marketplace, some of our team members digressed from the objective and started "gathering contribution credits".

Soon we realized that out of the 25 contributors, a few were making mistakes like "assigning/unassigning issues without comments", or "submitting duplicate patches", meanwhile gathering credits intentionally or unintentionally in the process.

We acted immediately, realizing our mistake that we had not conducted a D.O "contributions code of conduct" training — as most of them were first-timer contributors.

We asked some of our seasoned contributors to organize a code of conduct training. These contributors led an internal training session to reiterate the Drupal code of conduct as well as build an internal best practices checklist for contributors at Srijan.

 


                        A screenshot from the training session

 

While this session helped in improving the quality of the contributions, we still noticed that a few people were not following all the best practices. Community members were still tagging Srijan and registering their complaints…we acted again.

 

This time we ‘painstakingly’ made a comprehensive report to identify the key issues and the defaulters.

The following unhealthy practices were identified and each team member was evaluated against these-

  1. Assigning/unassigning without comments
  2. Hopping/hijacking issues - i.e.,not reading the issue history and submitting incomplete patches
  3. Submitting duplicate patches
  4. Incorrect patches, or patches without comments/screenshots

Self-evaluation form filled by each team member, against each issue worked on

 

This detailed evaluation process took about 2 weeks to complete but helped us address the quality issues. These evaluation sheets will be maintained regularly going forward.

Conclusion

With the above steps, we eventually succeeded in putting a stop to the breach of the ‘code of conduct’ by a few overzealous (or careless) contributors.

We should have done a "code of conduct training" and set up a monitoring system so that we could have avoided these incidents. But that’s the benefit of hindsight.

On behalf of Srijan, I would like to apologize to the Drupal module maintainers and core contributors (including other Srijan contributors) who had to face unnecessary challenges due to some of our nonchalant actions.

Srijan is and will remain among the leading contributors to the Drupal community and a responsible one at that.

The purpose of this post is to address our problem of being tagged on Slack in the Drupal group, rectify them with the right practices, and share this learning experience with others to help them avoid these slip-ups.

I would like to end this post by highlighting some of the positive attention that Srijan’s contribution teams have received during the past few months.

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