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  • stefano 3:22 pm on August 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , contribute, , , open innovation,   

    How do companies do OpenStack? 

    I’m cruising Silicon Valley these days asking “how does your company do OpenStack?”  to collect best practices and notable mistakes from various leaders of OpenStack corporate community. I’m hoping to build a ‘how to’ manual to help managers build better dev teams, more effective at collaborating while shipping products to their customers. This is an effort that goes hand-in-hand with training new developers with Upstream Training and other initiatives aimed at sustaining OpenStack growth.

    I often have to explain to managers of OpenStack corporate members how and why to contribute to the project. The level of complexity reached has now exceeded the simple answers, like ‘fix simple bugs’ or ‘read the wiki pages’. For example, the participants to the Upstream Training in Atlanta had difficulties finding low-hanging-fruit bugs to work on: by the time they were ready to commit, someone else had already fixed it. Too much is going on at the same time, newcomers are confused at many different levels.

    While we will keep training developers through Upstream Training (and other initiatives), we’re going to start talking to managers too.  I’d like to know how development teams are organized, how they balance shipping products to customers with contributing upstream, what incentives are in place that help or prevent contributions to go upstream, how career paths are influenced by contributions to the open source collaboration, etc.

    If you’re managing a team of developers or devops, you’re a CTO, a HR executive or are managing in any way a team of engineers contributing code to OpenStack, I would like to talk to you: email me and vote for my talk proposal “How to maximize effectiveness of your developers contributing to OpenStack”.

     
    • miko matsumura 12:19 pm on August 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I would like to talk with you about Hazelcast an Apache licensed open source In-Memory elastic data and processing grid. I am wondering if there might be a way for us to contribute/collaborate with open stack

      • stefano 9:11 am on August 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Hello Miko, I’m sure there is a way to collaborate :) Hop on IRC freenode.net #openstack-community and we can have a chat. Or send me an email.

    • Jean-Daniel Bonnetot 8:34 am on August 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      “email me”
      Yes, but where? :)

      • stefano 8:48 am on August 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I’m stefano at this domain or at openstack.org :)

  • stefano 11:17 am on July 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blueprints, bugs, , , , operators, users   

    Only developers should file specifications and blueprints 

    If you try to solve a problem with the wrong tool you’re likely going to have a frustrating experience. OpenStack developers have been using the same workflow to plan and manage development of OpenStack software over time, they chose a set of tools appropriate for the project’s software development. Developers use blueprints define the roadmap for the various projects, the specifications attached to a blueprint are used to discuss the implementation details before code is submitted for review.

    These are the tools for the developers and this doesn’t mean that blueprints and specifications are the only way to interact with developers. Operators and users in general don’t need to dive in the details of how OpenStack developers organize their work and definitely should never be asked to use tools designed for and by developers. When I read ‘s post the place of a non-developer in the openstack community I immediately felt her pain: she was asked to use the wrong tool to solve a problem. I think this case is a major misunderstanding but the comments on the post signal that this is not an isolated case.

    The most common way for a non-developer to highlight a flaw in OpenStack is to file a new bug report. Bugs can be defects that need to be fixed  or they can be requests for enhancement. In this case, Dafna filed a bug report and interacting with the triager, they agreed that the reported bug was not a defect per se but more of a request for enhancement, a wishlist.

    In order to fix a defect or implement a wishlist item, developers need to file a blueprint (and a specification) before they can start writing code. If the person who filed the original bug report is also a developer then s/he can go ahead and continue carrying on the process, file a blueprint to solve a bug # and write specifications (when needed) to describe the details of the implementation. Users interested in the bug can chime in adding comments to the bug and to the specs, provide input to developers.

    The process above works in similar way when the person filing the bug is not a developer, like in Dafna’s case. The proper flow of bug #1323578 would have not required Dafna to file a blueprint and specs, but to have a developer do that. Users are required to interact closely with the developers to discuss the implementation details, and that’s where the new specifications process helps. Gerrit may not have the best UI but it’s definitely better than holding discussions on a mailing list. Adding comments and holding conversations with the developer assigned to resolve the issue, on the bug report itself is also a valid option.

    While I think that as a community we have plenty of ways to improve how we include users and operators in our conversations, in this particular case, I think frustration came from being pulled in the wrong place from the beginning.

    PS: To be super-clear, in this post I’m using the terms developer and operator to describe a role, not a person. One person can be at the same time a developer and an operator, and act at times as a developer writing blueprints, submitting code and as an operator filing bug, giving comments to specifications.

     

     
    • Stephen Balukoff 2:38 pm on July 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      So, while an in-depth reading of your article here makes it clear that your comments are meant for developers– that you are saying developers shouldn’t push non-developers to use tools only meant for developers, both the title and several parts of your article can be interpreted to say “stay out of my kitchen” to operators and users. I would suggest altering the title to say something less exclusionary to these other 2/3rds of the OpenStack community. (Something like “Developers should not send non-developers to launchpad or gerrit.”)

      Having said this, I really feel like your article somewhat misses the point of Dafna’s blog post: In my reading she was frustrated because she was not able to contribute to the discussion, and her opinion was considered value-less unless she was willing to go through the (for her, arduous) task of learning two new systems which are neither user-friendly, nor particularly suited to the kind of discussion she wanted to have.

      Your post reads to me somewhat like “there are tools non-developers should be using to communicate with developers, and these are not the same tools developers will use to communicate with each other.” To me this is akin to the cooks getting angry at the waiters and customers for coming into their kitchen whey they have problems or suggestions. That’s all fine and dandy– so long as the cooks are actually providing good tools the waiters and customers can use to communicate to them, and using those tools themselves. I read Dafna’s point being that this obviously wasn’t happening, and instead what was effectively red-tape was being used to make her go away.

      If the OpenStack community wants to change this reputation for being exclusionary to operators and users, then this is exactly this sort of thing that needs to be worked on! Unfortunately, I don’t think the way you worded your article is helping much here. :/

      Also one point in particular in your article I feel I need to take issue with: “Gerrit may not have the best UI but it’s definitely better than holding discussions on a mailing list.” Actually, the mailing list is the perfect place to discuss ideas among a larger crowd of people when a major new idea or significant change is being contemplated. You’ve already said that Gerrit shouldn’t be used by non-developers, so if you limit these kinds of discussions to Gerrit only, then you are thereby ignoring any input that 2/3rds of the OpenStack community might have on the subject. This can lead to solutions which don’t actually meet operator or user needs at all, can lead to really poor design which then is a pain in the patootie to correct (given OpenStacks backward-compatibility policies), and certainly leads to OpenStack not being as good as it could be in the same amount of time.

      Also, I don’t think any search engine is indexing Gerrit (from what I can tell), and it’s far too easy for comments on early revisions of a patch to get lost forever when later revisions of the patch are uploaded for review (since Gerrit doesn’t carry comments forward– this needs to be done manually by attentive reviewers).

      That’s not to say Gerrit isn’t a good tool. In fact, as consensus among the community is neared on a mailing list discussion, it’s important for the details of that consensus to be translated into blueprints and specifications. Gerrit is actually probably the best tool we could be using when it comes to things mostly concerning developers (comments on specific lines of code, or specific details within a specification). But it is wholly the wrong place to be having design or feature-improvement discussions, especially with non-developer contributors like operators and users.

      • stefano 10:19 pm on July 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Stephen, I appreciate your comment. In fact, I think you have caught my intention quite well. I worded the title in such way exactly to get this sort of comments: I wanted the article to be challenged.

        I think that the *tools* that Dafna was told to use confused her and that’s wrong. She was put in a position to fail and that is not fair to any user. Her thoughts and comments could have stayed on the bug report or migrated to a mailing list, as you suggested, and eventually become a blueprint+specs lead by a developer.

        I think that OpenStack has done an incredible amount of work to include operators and users in the development loop. In the past 12 months I think we’ve visibly included operators into the decision making process, starting from the user survey to the work on personas and the UX team, the Operators Summits, the working groups within the User Committee and there is even more coming.

        As for the debate about Gerrit… Let me just hope that storyboard accelerates and becomes the tool we can use to discuss specifications. I voiced my concerns publicly against the specs repositories but at the same time, I have a hard time coming up with a radically better alternative.

    • Maish Saidel-Keesing 7:25 am on July 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Stefano.

      I have to agree with Stephen here. I too (not being a developer) find it very difficult to navigate the multiple tools and methods used by the OpenStack project to drive directions, changes, fixes and improvements.

      Let me count.

      There is Gerrit.
      There is Launchpad
      There is IRC
      There is the mailing list.
      There is Etherpad.
      There is the Wiki.
      There is the documentation.
      Oh yeah – there is even a support helpdesk (whatever that is used for)

      Perhaps I missed something here – but those are the ones that come to mind.

      Yes they all have their use cases, and one does not replace the other – nor should it, but the amount of information that flies across all of these – is substancial.

      And as a user/operator – it took me a decent amount of time to understand how to submit a patch – something as simple as an error in a config file.

      I still have problems getting my head around how the whole patch and voting system works, who has to approve, when, how, what is the difference between a +1, -1, -2, +2. What are the intricacies and clicks that need to be handled in order to get a patch submitted or re-submitted or changed. What happens when one core reviewer disagrees with another on my patch?

      What will happen if you are new – will someone work with you to get the change you wanted to submit (and are doing so – only because you want to help out) and approved?

      I have the feeling (and evidently I am no the only one) that the developers community think this is second nature to them – it probably is – and that those who do not know the language – the talk – the culture – are outsiders – and that they do not have the time / patience / incentive to teach them – hold their hand or walk them through it.

      I can personally tell you an experience of where I asked a question in IRC about features in LBaaS and if they existed or were planned. The question that was presented to me – so why don’t you start writing the code to implement these changes? My answer was I am not a developer – so my contribution on this part would not be helpful, the answer that I was given thereafter was “Forget it – we have enough architects and conceptual designers – we need people to make it happen”

      Developers are a different breed, for better or for worse. The feeling Operators/users have is that we are not involved – and therefore should stay out the way of the way the “magic happens”

      I for one would love to see that change. There is room for improvement in every single project – and developers could benefit immensely from the input of those who are actually deploying and using the product, in the real world.

      • stefano 7:11 pm on July 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Maish. Let me make it straight: I, too agree with Stephen that the tools and processes we use are complex to navigate and such complexity may discourage *casual* contributors. I think this topic deserves a longer conversation than just a reply to a comment, I’ll try to follow up in the next days.

        I substantially disagree with the idea that OpenStack developers don’t want to listen to users: the truth is that things are a lot better in OpenStack than in most other software development projects and they also keep improving. Feedback from users and operators is constantly being fed back into the development process, via the user survey, the operator summits, the design sessions, the conversations on the mailing lists, the comments on bug reports, specs and blueprints. Sure, a lot more can be done, but I don’t accept general criticisms that OpenStack developers don’t listen to users.

        I would not generalize from one single comment on an IRC channel, you should consider a random conversation on IRC exactly like a chat around a pint at a pub.

        • Maish Saidel-Keesing 11:34 pm on July 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply

          Hi Stefano – If it came over that all developers are not interested in hearing what we have to say – then that was not my intention. Really not. I just wanted to re-iterate the comments and feelings that were voiced before. Of course I see improvement – exactly as you said – with the Operators conference – and the joint sessions- but there is still quite a way to go. I do still feel that the developers could make more of an effort to “embrace” the newbies – it will be more beneficial to us all in the long run term.

          I hope that the Foundation will continue to invest time, money and effort into this – it will make the product better for us all.

          I would be happy to assist in any way I can to contribute to the conversation.

  • stefano 3:49 pm on June 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Engage in technical discussions keeping in mind the OpenStack promise 

    When OpenStack launched, it made four clear promises to its community: Open Source, Open Design, Open Development and Open Community. Open Source for OpenStack founders has been clearly explained:

    We are committed to creating truly open source software that is usable and scalable. Truly open source software is not feature or performance limited and is not crippled. There will be no “Enterprise Edition”.

    I find it worth restating that promise because I believe the four ‘Open’ promises that largely contributed in boosting OpenStack growth. There is a conversation about what is Cinder itself and what’s the role of its drivers. It’s a highly technical debate and a very important one, where I think this promise needs to be reminded: There will be no “Enterprise Edition”.

    I won’t enter into technical details because it’s not my role.  John Griffith and Ken Hui have a lot of interesting things to say about this and I suggest you to read their posts.  My personal opinion based on what I heard in Atlanta and read afterwards is that one approach puts Cinder in danger of becoming only useful if you pay a license to someone offering “value added” (better, freedom removed) pieces of hardware and software. That would be very shortsighted and that’s not what OpenStack is.  I think any leader of OpenStack has to be very careful when implementing changes that may put OpenStack’s promises in danger. The promises we made as a community are the first things to keep in mind during any conversation, technical ones included.

     
  • stefano 12:54 pm on June 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: directory, , openstack. community, people   

    Towards a Directory for all OpenStack People 

    One of the challenges at large projects like OpenStack is to know people, understand who is doing what, how to reach out to them. There are a lot of different classes of people involved in OpenStack: developers, users, speakers and participants to conferences, voters for OpenStack Foundation’s official governing bodies, maintainers of company’s presence on Marketplace and more. At the moment we’re using different tools to collect this information and carefully provide access to it. Most of the data is in the database behind OpenStack.org website: that’s where users register to respond to User Survey, Foundation Individual Members create their identity to be later verified by Gerrit, company administrators manage the content for Marketplace. Coupled with Launchpad OpenIDs, the .org database contains the vast majority of identities of people involved in OpenStack. Since we’ll soon be able our own OpenID provider, we should start building a directory for all OpenStack People based on the database we have now.

    We’re finalizing the design of the new openid provider portal so that it will be the ultimate place to hold the profiles of all people involved in openstack, from users, developers, people editing copy on the marketplace, etc. The basic plan is to merge pages like Foundation’s member profile with the OpenID profile and get ready to add more data to those page, make them more interesting and ‘alive’ adding things like achievements, badges and more.

    We have also the chance of reducing the pain that it is now to manage Individual and Corporate CLAs. While the discussion to switch to DCO goes on, I think we should simplify what we have now since it’s very easy to do. Currently new developers need to create an account on openstack.org, go to launchpad.net and create an account there, then go to review.openstack.org and create an account there and click-sign an Individual CLA making sure they use the same email address in gerrit as in openstack.org. Gerrit then queries the .org database and if it finds an email match, gerrit stores the fact ‘user signed the icla’ in its database. It’s not over for developers who work for corporations: those should also have their managers approve/list them in the Corporate CLA (if/when needed) which is a totally different thing, managed ‘manually’ with an echosign form.

    We want to change all of this, since we already have most of the UI and infrastructure in place to make things simpler. There is a blueprint filed for this effort and specs, also check the discussion on the infra mailing list to gather feedback and move to implementation.

     
  • stefano 10:04 am on May 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , velocity   

    Treat Open Source Like a Startup 

    This experience by Velocity.JS confirms the sense I had in OpenStack:

    I treated Velocity like I treated my businesses: First, there’s development. That’s 10%. Then, there’s marketing. That’s 90%.

    Treat Open Source Like a Startup ✩ Mozilla Hacks – the Web developer blog.

     
  • stefano 2:29 pm on February 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gender, , , , profile, sex   

    Tracking gender diversity in the OpenStack developer community 

    The OpenStack Foundation has always tried to increase genders diversity in our community: we joined the Outreach Program for Women, established clear policies for our summits and in general we’ve been actively promoting good behavior across the board. A few weeks ago I realized that we were lacking of a decent way to track our progress in gender diversity in the OpenStack developer community and decided to improve the situation.

    When Anne asked me for the number of women or non-male developers in OpenStack, I realized that we don’t have that number. When people register to become OpenStack developers they need to become members of OpenStack Foundation and have an account on Launchpad. Neither of them track gender information. The best number I had to offer was the t-shirt kind requested at our Summits. If you don’t measure it you can’t improve it, the saying goes. So we thought we need to offer the option for Foundation’s members to tell us their gender, if they want to. How do we ask for gender without being disrepectful to non-binary genders?

    We did some research, discussed them on the bug and adapted the best practices to our case. We wanted to keep the choice short and not to offend anybody by leaving out options. An open entry form leads to hard to use data (people have very creative ways to spell just about anything), using pronouns would have made translations a nightmare. We need a way to restrict options so we can easily count them in the database so the binary options male/female were set first and ‘Prefer not to say’ was soon added as another option, since it’s really not mandatory to disclose that information. For non-binary genders using “Non-binary” sounded too geeky to me; using ‘other’ sounds weird, borderline offensive. We came to a consensus on my suggestion to have an open entry prefixed by “Let me tell you”. I liked this phrase because I feel like “Let me tell you” empowers the member to own their own gender definition. The new form is now live so you can now register or edit your OpenStack Member profile and add your gender (if you want to).

     
  • stefano 1:02 pm on January 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Why people contribute to OpenStack 

    A few days ago, I asked 55 OpenStack developers why they decided to submit one patch to OpenStack and what prevented them from contributing more. The sample polled people who contributed only once in the past 12 months, looking for anecdotal evidence for what we can do to improve the life of the occasional contributor. To me, occasional contributors are as important as the core contributors to sustain the growth of OpenStack in the medium/long term. Since it’s possible that the community has already already hired the best candidates among Python developers and system operators, to sustain the growth of OpenStack we need to tap into the wider Python community and experts of large distributed systems coming from other languages (Java, for starters). Knowing what hurdles new contributors face when they first join OpenStack is a first step to make onboarding easier and multiple contributions more frequent.

    People who replied are for the most parts users of OpenStack, that is developers and dev-ops people working on deployments of OpenStack for internal usage and system integrators who develop and deploy OpenStack for their customers. A third group of occasional contributors are developers of projects that use or are used by OpenStack, like Docker or Ceph.

    The top reasons to submit a patch went from the practical convenience of having patches maintained upstream, to fixing bugs (discovered during a proof of concept or in more advanced phases of a deployment) or to add/fix funcionalities to better integrate OpenStack with other projects. Finally, people contribute patches for personal growth and to enrich resumes.

    Why don’t they submit more? There are three main stumbling blocks. Legal hurdles delayed contributions, and even prevented (at least) one. The reasons for the delays range from NDAs with customers to incompatibility with corporate policies to release software under open source license and sign a Corporate Contributor License Agreement. Another group of reasons for the delay is the long time it takes for contributions to travel the review queue. The time it takes for patches to get in OpenStack repositories was mentioned more than once. Finally, the lack of simple issues to fix in the spare time: apparently the community fixes simple bugs too rapidly.

    The results cannot be considered representative but they seem to confirm that legal hurdles and speed of the reviews are preventing more casual contributions. While there are already many discussions on how to improve reviewing times, changing the way we handle contributions legally requires a massive endeavour to change OpenStack Foundation’s bylaws. The fact that simple issues to fix are hard to find is new to me: it may indicate that there are lots of people joining the community fixing these ‘low hanging fruits’ or something else. I think more analysis is needed in this area.

     
    • everett_toews 11:39 am on January 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      What? Nobody fessed up and admitted it was to get a free pass to the Summit?

      • stefano 4:24 pm on January 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Surprising :) But no, I confirm, nobody mentioned that :)

    • tadowguy 6:32 pm on January 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      One of the reasons Ubuntu Harvest (http://harvest.ubuntu.com/) was created was to highlight easy opportunities for people to work on in Ubuntu. While it never reached it’s full potential, I think the theory is good. Perhaps a tool like it would help?

      • stefano 6:39 pm on January 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I didn’t know about Harvest, thanks for bringing it up. One comment I heard is that the ‘low hanging fruit’ bugs are solved too rapidly for casual contributors to find/fix them or there are not enough bugs tagged properly.

    • twitter_tadowguy 6:41 pm on January 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      @Stefano, sorry I failed to include this before, took me a few minutes to find it, but look at this time to fix chart, it’s basically approaching zero.

      http://activity.openstack.org/dash/newbrowser/browser/its.html

      Last week I had a bug that I’d been working on (and was assigned to me) “taken” when someone submitted code that marked it as fixing it. I worked with the developer who ended up fixing it, but it was frustrating.

  • stefano 10:05 am on January 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , recruiting   

    Exploring why people contribute to OpenStack 

    No doubt that OpenStack is one of the largest open source development efforts existing at the moment, with Linux, Debian and few others.  What can be improved to make the OpenStack community grow faster? How can we help new contributors become productive more rapidly?

    Whatever dimension you look at, the growth of the OpenStack developers community is astonishing. I’ve looked at the reasons for this growth and I’ve identified four main causes summarized in my presentation at Linux Conf North America and Open World Forum in Paris last year:

    • One clear mission to solve a hard problem
    • One initial core team with strong motivation to solve that problem
    • One team dedicated to recruiting new team members
    • One clear path to onboard new members in the team

    The first two points are pretty clear already and don’t seem to need much tweaking: those ain’t broken, so no need to fix’em. The other two are not broken either but they’re the kind of stuff you want to stay on top of because once you notice they’re broken, the cost to fix them will be higher. Recently I started to ask myself what margins of improvements there are in recruiting and onboarding new members in our communities.

    I quickly realized that while we know a lot about the top contributors to OpenStack, we don’t know much about the ‘long tail’ of contributors. It’s fairly easy to understand why the people responsible for 80% of OpenStack code and documentation work on the project. But who are the occasional contributors and what are their motivations to join the community? I embarked on a quest to get to know this long tail in an effort to understand how we can improve recruiting and onboarding new developers.

    After a conversation with Asheesh Laroia, of OpenHatch fame, I selected 55 random developers from the list of those who submitted a single change to the integrated OpenStack programs during the past 12 months. These people went through quite a huge chunk of trouble only to submit one single patch: besides learning enough of the quite complex OpenStack code, they had to sign the Individual CLA (maybe the Corporate CLA, too), learn about git review and the other tools, go through the code review process. I would expect that whoever goes through that process, does it with the intention to stick around. So I asked the sample two simple questions:

    • What made you decide to submit a patch to OpenStack?
    • What prevented you to submit more patches?

    I’ll wait a few days for their answers and share more details. Feel free to answer the questions leaving a comment here, too.

     
    • Kevin Fox 9:14 am on January 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve been trying to contribute since October. Ran into major issues with the contributor agreement. Mailing list posting here:
      http://lists.openstack.org/pipermail/legal-discuss/2013-November/000101.html

      Motivations for contribution back include:

      Giving back patches to the community as a small payment for receiving so much.
      Getting recognition for the patches we are using internally in our lab.
      Upstreaming of our patches so we do not have to port them on every updated release.

      I have not contributed yet, or was prevented from writing a few other patches due to the CLA really not fitting our situation. Our organization has, after years of effort, figured out how to release software open source. The org has not ever ran into a project that needed a CLA though, and it may take several more years for it to come to grips with them. The OpenStack project itself does not have a CLA that fits the situation either. The legal team is reviewing the issue and is working on it, but it is very slow going.

      IMO, the CLA has been a very high hurtle that projects like the Linux Kernel have very successfully gotten away without.

      • stefano 9:48 am on January 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you Kevin. Your case is indeed a painful one, I apologize for it. I wish the next Board of Directors at the end of January will evaluate a solution.

  • stefano 9:24 am on December 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: activity, bitergia, grimoire, , stackalytics, wikidsmart   

    How not to use OpenStack Community Metrics tools 

    I have noticed this morning another article/blog post mistakenly trying to extrapolate hard facts about a company’s involvement in OpenStack using one of the reporting tools built for the community. The reporter went to Stackalytics (but it could have gone to Activity Board, it would have been the same) to check if Oracle had made any contribution to the OpenStack codebase. That’s the wrong way to use these tools: numbers regarding companies contributing to OpenStack published daily cannot be trusted.

    Both Stackalytics and Activity Board depend on data that is entered voluntarily by the contributors to OpenStack, therefore they cannot be trusted. Stackalytics has a mapping file in its repository that is kept up to date by developers themselves (those that know its existence). Activity Board pulls data straight from the OpenStack Foundation Members database: when you sign up as Member of the Foundation (a precondition to become a developer) you’re asked to enter data about who pays for your contribution. The bylaws of the Foundation also require that you keep that info up to date, but we know as a fact that few people log back in their member profile and even fewer update their affiliation. Therefore we know that the data about the affiliation in all reporting tools is not 100% reliable at any point in time. It’s good enough if you’re looking at the top contributing companies where the volumes are high enough to remain fairly valid despite small percentage errors. But when a reporter goes to check if a total newcomer to the community has submitted any code, that number is very likely to be wrong (and close to zero): the new developers may have not understood what the Affiliation field is and not filled it out (I see a lot of those on a weekly basis) and they’re very unlikely to know about the mapping file in git for Stackalytics.

    The data that I trust most (but still not 100%, especially for ‘long tail’ contributors) are the reports published with Bitergia at release time: every OpenStack release we do a lot of manual cleanup of the data in the Foundation database, ask people to update their affiliation, normalize names of companies and circulate the report for comments before making them public. Still, those may contain errors which we track on Launchpad.

    As far as I know the reporter didn’t ask the Foundation nor Oracle if anybody could point at actual commits done by Oracle employees and that’s what he should have done.

    OpenStack prouds itself for being an open community and I’ve been the first proposer of having a public way to see the various activities inside the project, in real time and including the information about companies, not just individuals. I think we need to discuss how we can provide better data and avoid giving false illusion of precision to casual visitors to these sites.

     
    • Ryan Lane 7:19 am on December 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I think this is a reasonable use of the tools. If a company doesn’t have their affiliation information up to date then they need to get that fixed. The company can then post information showing that they are indeed contributing.

      The onus of properly updated metrics for an organization needs to be on the organization and not on the person using the metrics. Untrustable metrics aren’t useful metrics.

      Maybe there’s something we can do to make the process less error prone for people contributing to get their affiliations correct?

      • stefano 10:11 am on December 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I think the main problem with delegating responsibilities to companies is that they have very few tools to fix the issue themselves. Neither I think it’s fair to ask newcomers to do yet another thing (set the mapping file in stackalytics or something else) before they can commit code or file a bug: it’s already too hard to start interacting with OpenStack. I think we need to find a better way.

        One line of thoughts I have is to create the concept of ‘group’ and ‘sub-groups’ in our members database and tie such concept to the Corporate Contributor License Agreement. I think it deserves a blog post on its own. The basic idea is that the person who manages a development team at, say, IBM, instead of signing the Corporate CLA on Echosign and provide the list of authorized committers on the same platform, creates a group on the ID.openstack.org service and assigns to that group the individual members of his/her development team. This will also simplify the management of the Corporate CLA. It won’t solve 100% of the issues of people/companies who participate in other activities that is not managed via gerrit though.

    • Herman Narkaytis 9:15 am on December 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Just a couple of notes on Stackalytics affiliation rules.
      1. Here is a description of algorithm https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Stackalytics#Company_affiliation
      It is not only about manually mantained mapping file. Mapping file is maintained directly by contributors. The main source of affilation data is emails from commits info. If commit is signed with hnarkaytis@mirantis.com, then affilation is evident.
      2. There are 701 conributors profiles for Icehouse at the moment. 97 (13.8%) are classified as *independent. The rest 600+ contributors are affilated according email’ domains or mapping file. *independent contributors made only 7% of all commits. There is a regular mail compain for *independent contributors, that ensure that all of them are aware about their affilation. Top 10 *independent (50%+ of commits) contributors confirmed their affiliation via email. This means that maximum error of measurment is about 3%.

      As core contributor of Stackalytics I can confirm that affilations are not 100% correct. Confidence interval for all measurments is 3%.
      Issue that you raised is valid and we gonna put an official disclamer on landing page.

      • stefano 5:47 pm on December 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        You’re right, Herman, I forgot to mention that there are heuristics that help ‘guessing’ the highest percentage of commit attributions.

  • stefano 3:09 pm on November 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ask, askbot, ,   

    How to get new questions on Ask OpenStack via email 

    Email is still one of the best mechanism to get push notifications, so getting automatic nudges via email from Ask OpenStack is useful. I took some time to document how to get an email message every time a new question is asked on Ask OpenStack.

    The core of the configuration is available on the personal profile page. In my case the URL is https://ask.openstack.org/en/users/9/smaffulli/?sort=email_subscriptions: hit your username in the top navigation bar and then pick ‘subscriptions‘. The page will look like the screenshot below.

    Selection_001

    Askbot email settings

    As of today Ask OpenStack gets around 10 new questions per day and the rate is increasing steadily. I highlighted the configuration that can help you prevent getting too many emails: select the frequency of the notifications want to get notifications first in the line “Entire forum (tag filtered)”. Then set the tag filter: I picked “only subscribed tags”. You can modify the tags you want to receive notifications from the form at the bottom of the page:

    Selection_004

    Add tags you’re interested in to this form

    Tags are added by the person asking the question and can be edited by anybody with karma higher than 100. On the same subscriptions page there is also a setting to receive notifications for questions asked in Chinese languages.

    On Ask OpenStack home page there are also ways to customize the site further, hiding questions carrying ignored tags from the view or highlighting interesting ones

    Selection_002

    Further configuration options on Ask OpenStack home page

     

     
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