Let’s start small, Junior!

When a new contributor comes to you and wants to start coding on KDE do you have a small task to hand him or her immediately? The moment they show up in your IRC channel, email inbox, identi.ca or wherever else they find you is the moment their motivation is incredibly high. They are willing to invest time and energy right there and they likely have a few free hours to dive into a simple task. This is the moment we need to get them hooked. If they have to wait a few days, a week or even longer for a task they might well have lost that initial motivation and will be gone never to be seen again.

Now we all know that our time is limited and we can’t be there 24/7 and give out tasks to newbies. Thankfully we have a solution: Junior Jobs on bugs.kde.org. The sad thing: There are less than 50 of them at the time of writing this posting. Let’s improve this. Have a simple task you don’t have time for right now? File a bug right now (you can even skip the wizard), tag it with the keyword “junior-jobs” and be happy to have a list to give to a potential new coder next time someone approaches you.

But having this list to point to is not the only benefit. It will also be used by people looking for something to do on their own. They might be too shy to approach you for the time being, but looking at a task-list on their own and maybe trying to fix one of the bugs is possible for them.

Let’s get this list above 100 within the next two weeks together!

Now say you don’t have a suitable Junior Job for someone. There are a few things you can do to keep them involved until you have something:

  • let them set up their devel environment
  • ask them to test something for you
  • ask them to help a little with bug triage
  • ask them to go trough your websites and see where they are out-of-date and maybe get them updated
  • have them check if someone needs help in the forum
  • let them organize a meeting for your team if needed

While Junior Jobs are used for coding tasks mainly it would be nice to have a similar system for promo for example. I am not sure Bugzilla is the best tool for that though. Are there better tools we could use for promo task scheduling?

11 thoughts on “Let’s start small, Junior!”

  1. This is such a simple, yet effective way to increase new contibutors to open source… It only needs people willing to ask for help (in less than three words!). Thanks for blogging about it.

    I’d love to see something like this for “artwork needed”, too. As an artist, I’d love to contribute, but find that often the toughest thing can be project maintainers being resistant to anything replacing their supposedly “temp” artwork. If there was an easy place to find art jobs that the project maintainers *wanted* done it would make contributing so much easier.

    And while I love the work the Oxygen team are doing, not all artists are automatically icon artists! 🙂

  2. Are there better tools we could use for promo task scheduling?

    You might want to have a look at OTRS. I have heard about it as a ticket/task tracking system, but do not know if it exactly fits your needs.

  3. I think this is a good idea, but can’t a person also simply go to bugs.kde.org and look for bugs that have the most votes to see features users really want, but aren’t implemented yet?

    Or sort by oldest open bugs? Some of those can probably be closed with some cleanup, realizing that they are duplicates, already fixed, no longer apply to newer versions, etc.

    I had a bookmark for a query of open bugs with patches attached, sorted by date. I’d try to apply the patch myself, see if it fixed the bug, and track down why the patch never made it in mainline. Often, there was no explanation for why a patch was submitted and then ignored.

    Bug trackers are great tools, but sadly often aren’t maintained as much as they should be.

  4. @T.J.: No, not at all! Junior Jobs are specifically made to get people started with a relatively easy task. Only a very small number of bugs in our bug tracker are suitable for this.

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