External Contributions Guidelines

These Guidelines enable specifically external contributions coming from the community (i.e. people who are not part of the regular staff assigned to each GE project). They have been inspired on real experience gained while working in the Mozilla Open Source Community. See joshmatthews.net and Mozilla Mentoring.

A public backlog including potential work items (bug, features, documentation, test cases, ...) to be externally contributed (welcome contributions) MUST be available.

A work item is a good candidate to become a welcome contribution if:

  • Should be fixed
  • It is not time-sensitive or blocking
  • It has clear steps to reproduce
  • It is well understood

Welcome contribution work items MUST have a mentor assigned (who will typically be a member of the regular GE staff). The Mentor's role includes:

  • She will ensure that the right contributor is assigned.
  • She understands how it can be done and will provide guidance on the best way to approach the problem.
  • She will answer questions, review changes, and make the process as easy as possible by reacting promptly.
  • She will make sure that a task is progressing. If nothing is heard from a contributor for a reasonable period of time the mentor might unassign the task.
  • After a successful contribution, she recognizes the contributor and propose new work items to be accomplished, as now a mentor should have a good sense of the contributor's capabilities.

The public backlog MUST provide a mechanism to allow assignment of work items to external contributors. Contributors who already come with a proposed patch MUST be given preference. Assignment will be subject to approval by GE owners, particularly mentors. GitHub users activity profile MAY be used in order to assess the skills of the potential contributor.

For those projects using GitHub as a public backlog, work items will be 'Github issues' tagged as 'Welcome Contributions'. The assignment process will consist of a comment made by the contributor on the corresponding GitHub issue, indicating the intent to fix the issue. A mentor can decide to acknowledge the request by actually assigning the issue. Nonetheless, the Mentor will have the final assignment decision depending on the proved skills of the requester.

Spontaneous contributions (i.e. contributions not associated with any welcome contributions published by the GE owners) MAY be accepted if the GE development staff consider them valuable.

Contributions MUST follow the standard FIWARE Development Lifecycle and the advice given by mentors. The contributor's role includes:

  • Regular communication (at least once a week) with the mentor; the mentor needs confidence that the task is moving in a good direction.
  • Respect the mentor's guidance, particularly with regards to patch submission and review.

Credits MUST be given to external contributors. A CREDITS file MUST be present at the root directory of the GE code repository. The format of that file SHOULD use some of the following alternatives (it's up to GE team to chose which option they prefer):

  • One line per contributor to the project. An example can be found here.
  • A short list of major contributors and a link to the contributors graph in the GitHub repository. An example can be found here
  • A list of contributors and the detail of their particular contributons. An examples can be found here.

The public backlog organization for Welcome Contributions SHOULD be as follows:

  • All the work items which are suitable for external contributions (Welcome Contributions) will be tagged as 'mentored'.
  • A good Welcome Contribution requires:

    • A clear description of the problem, and steps to reproduce (if applicable)
    • A broad description of what an acceptable solution to the problem would look like
    • Clear steps that should be taken for the fix - including links to the lines of code to be tweaked.
    • Identification of any relevant automated tests, as well as instructions for adding any new tests
    • Links to relevant documentation (eg. if running automated tests, link to the page and even give the full command).
  • Every Welcome Contribution will have a category which will denote its difficulty and importance level:

    • Entry. Entry level work items are typically low complexity tasks such as those which have to do with simple (one liner) bug fixing. It includes an extremely narrow scope, clear hardware and platform requirements, and prompt reviewer followup. They are aimed at making a new contributor familiar with the development environment and workflow.
    • Intermediate. These are less trivial tasks and are focused on actually providing a solution to an issue identified. Few if any of these will be good starting points for new contributors. Actually, they are aimed at those contributors who have completed successfully at least one or two entry level work items.
    • Advanced. These are work items which difficulty is high or that have been brought up as important issues by the priority-triage processes. Previous experience in the project will be a must in order to be commissioned to the task.
  • Repositories which are open to contributions GitHub SHOULD comply with the GitHub recommended community standards checklist by having a CONTRIBUTING.MD - see the associated Git Hub Article

  • Repositories which are open to contributions GitHub MAY require a pull request template - see associated Git Hub Article
  • Presence of a CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md MAY also be useful - see associated Git Hub Article. It should noted that FIWARE members should have already signed the FIWARE Code of Conduct
  • Repositories which are open to contributions GitHub SHOULD automate code formatting (e.g. Go fmt, prettier/ESLint for Node.js, Jacobe or Checkstyle for Java etc.)

Recognitions

Apart from the presence on the credits file, different recognitions can be given to external contributors. Some ideas, coming from the GitHub Open Source Guides can be found here.

The greater recognition that can be made to a contributor is promotion to the 'active contributor' role (see here). These decision MUST be made by the GE owners taking into account the number, quality and sustainability in time of the contributions provided.