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Old 06-02-2008, 10:34 PM
Josh Boyer
 
Default Tracking contributions

On Mon, 2 Jun 2008 12:41:10 -0800
"Jeff Spaleta" <jspaleta@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 5:42 AM, Josh Boyer <jwboyer@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Why do you need to track that?
>
>
> Why does any volunteer organization want to keep track of the amount
> of time individuals are committing and what things they are doing? We
> want to make sure we are putting human resources into the overall
> project in a way that we aren't creating bottlenecks, or worse in a
> way that is wasteful. The most critically important resource we have
> is available volunteer time and goodwill, and we need to start looking
> seriously at how well we are managing those resources as they come
> into the door. We need to make sure that when we encourage people to
> participate we are doing it a way that we are asking people to spend
> time in a way that makes a positive impact. And we need to find ways
> to measure that impact. If we think mentoring is a good idea, then we
> need to try to measure that impact. But we cant really gauge impact
> unless we have a reasonable estimate of the manhours going in. More
> important for me we need to try to make a long term effort to trend
> the impact of different areas of 'contribution' that we stand up.
> Unless we attempt to track manhours spent in different areas how do we
> ever really get a handle on whether we need to push one area over
> another through a project wide recruitment program? Different parts
> of the project are going to grow organically on their own...but not
> necessarily at the same rate. As one bit grows it can create growing
> pains for other groups, and its exactly this sort of imbalance that we
> need to watch out for and respond to via recruitment drives.

Fair enough. Good points. And I agree that having such data would be
great for planning, etc.

Now, you have issues with all of that too.

1) How do you do it across the Project as a whole without resorting to
a "timecard" that contributors punch.

2) How do you get around the fact that some people might not want their
contribution time tracked?

3) How do you account for transient contributors? E.g. The overall
contribution time for a particular area may stay the same across two
different time periods. It could be all from the same contributor
base, or it could be spread across a bunch of different contributors
that come and go. The wiki would likely be a decent example of the
latter.

Or, put another way, do we want to track contributor retention? (See
lkml thread from last week for a similar discussion and the
observations they saw there.)

4) How do you balance "paid for" time vs. volunteer time? Both are
invaluable, and it's a fine line to walk in some cases.

5) How do you quantify "intangibles" like helping people on #fedora?

6) How do you actively "recruit" people to areas that need help without
driving them away altogether?

None of those are easy questions, and I don't really expect answers in
a reply immediately. But they are things that need to be carefully
considered if we're going to implement any kind of manhour tracking.
Hopefully the Board (and/or FESCo) can work on those in the next term.

josh

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Old 06-03-2008, 01:54 AM
"Paul W. Frields"
 
Default Tracking contributions

On Mon, 2008-06-02 at 17:34 -0500, Josh Boyer wrote:
> On Mon, 2 Jun 2008 12:41:10 -0800
> "Jeff Spaleta" <jspaleta@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > On Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 5:42 AM, Josh Boyer <jwboyer@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Why do you need to track that?
> >
> >
> > Why does any volunteer organization want to keep track of the amount
> > of time individuals are committing and what things they are doing? We
> > want to make sure we are putting human resources into the overall
> > project in a way that we aren't creating bottlenecks, or worse in a
> > way that is wasteful. The most critically important resource we have
> > is available volunteer time and goodwill, and we need to start looking
> > seriously at how well we are managing those resources as they come
> > into the door. We need to make sure that when we encourage people to
> > participate we are doing it a way that we are asking people to spend
> > time in a way that makes a positive impact. And we need to find ways
> > to measure that impact. If we think mentoring is a good idea, then we
> > need to try to measure that impact. But we cant really gauge impact
> > unless we have a reasonable estimate of the manhours going in. More
> > important for me we need to try to make a long term effort to trend
> > the impact of different areas of 'contribution' that we stand up.
> > Unless we attempt to track manhours spent in different areas how do we
> > ever really get a handle on whether we need to push one area over
> > another through a project wide recruitment program? Different parts
> > of the project are going to grow organically on their own...but not
> > necessarily at the same rate. As one bit grows it can create growing
> > pains for other groups, and its exactly this sort of imbalance that we
> > need to watch out for and respond to via recruitment drives.
>
> Fair enough. Good points. And I agree that having such data would be
> great for planning, etc.
>
> Now, you have issues with all of that too.
>
> 1) How do you do it across the Project as a whole without resorting to
> a "timecard" that contributors punch.
>
> 2) How do you get around the fact that some people might not want their
> contribution time tracked?
>
> 3) How do you account for transient contributors? E.g. The overall
> contribution time for a particular area may stay the same across two
> different time periods. It could be all from the same contributor
> base, or it could be spread across a bunch of different contributors
> that come and go. The wiki would likely be a decent example of the
> latter.
>
> Or, put another way, do we want to track contributor retention? (See
> lkml thread from last week for a similar discussion and the
> observations they saw there.)
>
> 4) How do you balance "paid for" time vs. volunteer time? Both are
> invaluable, and it's a fine line to walk in some cases.
>
> 5) How do you quantify "intangibles" like helping people on #fedora?
>
> 6) How do you actively "recruit" people to areas that need help without
> driving them away altogether?
>
> None of those are easy questions, and I don't really expect answers in
> a reply immediately. But they are things that need to be carefully
> considered if we're going to implement any kind of manhour tracking.
> Hopefully the Board (and/or FESCo) can work on those in the next term.

Before the Board starts working on these issues, there needs to be some
sort of consensus that any sort of time tracking is needed and workable.
The number and quality of your questions here, both high, are similar to
what we've heard others say before about time tracking, and tell me that
consensus doesn't exist yet. This list is where those things should be
figured out, not by the Board in a meeting that the community can't see
or hear.

If this were a brick-and-mortar volunteer organization, time tracking
would be easy -- you'd see it in the shifts people cover. Our project
doesn't lend itself well to that kind of tracking for obvious reasons.
(How would we track someone's work on a git repo while they're on a
cross-country flight?)

I've always thought that time measurement was not as good a metric in
this case as the level of support one is giving to one's fellow project
members. And the unfortunate fact is that kind of measurement is more
qualitative and thus exponentially more difficult.

--
Paul W. Frields http://paul.frields.org/
gpg fingerprint: 3DA6 A0AC 6D58 FEC4 0233 5906 ACDB C937 BD11 3717
http://redhat.com/ - - - - http://pfrields.fedorapeople.org/
irc.freenode.net: stickster @ #fedora-docs, #fedora-devel, #fredlug
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:01 PM
Greg Dekoenigsberg
 
Default Tracking contributions

My brief answer: better tools. A more detailed answer inline.

On Mon, 2 Jun 2008, Josh Boyer wrote:


On Mon, 2 Jun 2008 12:41:10 -0800
"Jeff Spaleta" <jspaleta@gmail.com> wrote:


On Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 5:42 AM, Josh Boyer <jwboyer@gmail.com> wrote:

Why do you need to track that?



Why does any volunteer organization want to keep track of the amount
of time individuals are committing and what things they are doing? We
want to make sure we are putting human resources into the overall
project in a way that we aren't creating bottlenecks, or worse in a
way that is wasteful. The most critically important resource we have
is available volunteer time and goodwill, and we need to start looking
seriously at how well we are managing those resources as they come
into the door. We need to make sure that when we encourage people to
participate we are doing it a way that we are asking people to spend
time in a way that makes a positive impact. And we need to find ways
to measure that impact. If we think mentoring is a good idea, then we
need to try to measure that impact. But we cant really gauge impact
unless we have a reasonable estimate of the manhours going in. More
important for me we need to try to make a long term effort to trend
the impact of different areas of 'contribution' that we stand up.
Unless we attempt to track manhours spent in different areas how do we
ever really get a handle on whether we need to push one area over
another through a project wide recruitment program? Different parts
of the project are going to grow organically on their own...but not
necessarily at the same rate. As one bit grows it can create growing
pains for other groups, and its exactly this sort of imbalance that we
need to watch out for and respond to via recruitment drives.


Fair enough. Good points. And I agree that having such data would be
great for planning, etc.

Now, you have issues with all of that too.

1) How do you do it across the Project as a whole without resorting to
a "timecard" that contributors punch.


We make sure that everything is tied as clearly as possible to FAS2
account info, and then we collect measurements where it makes sense.



2) How do you get around the fact that some people might not want their
contribution time tracked?


We make it so that they don't have to do the work, and whenever we present
"metrics", we do it in such a way that we're never penalizing, only
rewarding. No volunteer wants to hear "you didn't do enough to suit us,"
but many might like to hear "you did a tremendous amount of work that we
saw." And if that drives a bit of competition, so much the better.



3) How do you account for transient contributors? E.g. The overall
contribution time for a particular area may stay the same across two
different time periods. It could be all from the same contributor
base, or it could be spread across a bunch of different contributors
that come and go. The wiki would likely be a decent example of the
latter.


It's got to be possible to track different kinds of contributions. How
many times did "gdk" edit the wiki? Check something into a repo? Show up
on various mailing lists?



Or, put another way, do we want to track contributor retention? (See
lkml thread from last week for a similar discussion and the
observations they saw there.)

4) How do you balance "paid for" time vs. volunteer time? Both are
invaluable, and it's a fine line to walk in some cases.


A fair question, and perhaps a separate one.


5) How do you quantify "intangibles" like helping people on #fedora?


Make them tangible. Collect IRC screen names in FAS2, and do some
analysis.



6) How do you actively "recruit" people to areas that need help without
driving them away altogether?


By emphasizing them on the Join page, which is increasingly becoming an
effective vector into the project. Of course, the fact is that you can't
make a volunteer do anything they don't really want to do, which is
something we must be cognizant of at all times.


--g

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Old 06-03-2008, 07:19 PM
Josh Boyer
 
Default Tracking contributions

On Tue, 3 Jun 2008 15:01:04 -0400 (EDT)
Greg Dekoenigsberg <gdk@redhat.com> wrote:

> > Now, you have issues with all of that too.
> >
> > 1) How do you do it across the Project as a whole without resorting to
> > a "timecard" that contributors punch.
>
> We make sure that everything is tied as clearly as possible to FAS2
> account info, and then we collect measurements where it makes sense.

Right... so if you spend 20 hours working on a bug and a patch for it,
the only thing you're going to get hits for in FAS are (assuming the
tooling is in place) the individual bugzilla entries and the CVS
commit. Those will tally totals of seconds.

Unless you have a "Time Spent:" field in CVS (or bugzilla), which is
essentially a punch card. (And prone to dubious entries.)

> > 2) How do you get around the fact that some people might not want their
> > contribution time tracked?
>
> We make it so that they don't have to do the work, and whenever we present
> "metrics", we do it in such a way that we're never penalizing, only
> rewarding. No volunteer wants to hear "you didn't do enough to suit us,"
> but many might like to hear "you did a tremendous amount of work that we
> saw." And if that drives a bit of competition, so much the better.

That isn't quite what I was thinking. What if people literally don't
want any manhours spent on Fedora to be tracked at all? Good or bad?
Contribution tracking is inevitable given the FAS account requirement.
But time spent on said contributions can be a sensitive subject and not
everyone may want to have that number floating around somewhere.

> > 3) How do you account for transient contributors? E.g. The overall
> > contribution time for a particular area may stay the same across two
> > different time periods. It could be all from the same contributor
> > base, or it could be spread across a bunch of different contributors
> > that come and go. The wiki would likely be a decent example of the
> > latter.
>
> It's got to be possible to track different kinds of contributions. How
> many times did "gdk" edit the wiki? Check something into a repo? Show up
> on various mailing lists?

You are tracking contributions there, not manhours and time. If you
want to track contributions, just have FAS tie into
http://www.ohloh.net.

> > 5) How do you quantify "intangibles" like helping people on #fedora?
>
> Make them tangible. Collect IRC screen names in FAS2, and do some
> analysis.

That's iffy at best.

> > 6) How do you actively "recruit" people to areas that need help without
> > driving them away altogether?
>
> By emphasizing them on the Join page, which is increasingly becoming an
> effective vector into the project. Of course, the fact is that you can't
> make a volunteer do anything they don't really want to do, which is
> something we must be cognizant of at all times.

Right, and that is sort of my point. Knowing what areas need help is
one thing, but if said areas are perceived as boring or unrewarding
then pimping them will only be so effective. So we can point people
there, but we don't want to discourage them by not allowing them to
work where their interest lies.

josh

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Old 06-03-2008, 07:22 PM
Jonathan Roberts
 
Default Tracking contributions

On Tuesday 03 June 2008 20:01:04 Greg Dekoenigsberg wrote:
> My brief answer: better tools. A more detailed answer inline.
>
> On Mon, 2 Jun 2008, Josh Boyer wrote:
> > On Mon, 2 Jun 2008 12:41:10 -0800
> >
> > "Jeff Spaleta" <jspaleta@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> On Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 5:42 AM, Josh Boyer <jwboyer@gmail.com> wrote:
> >>> Why do you need to track that?

+1 - I'm not exactly experienced when it comes to running volunteer projects,
but it seems to me that just as effective as tracking individual contributors
efforts would be paying careful attention to what actually gets done,
regardless of who does it. And I'm quietly confident that SIGs etc know when
they need extra help/more hands and are pretty capable of pushing for more
recruits themselves.

And with regard to being able to reward contributors who are working hard:
imho the best way to do this is for those you've worked with to say thanks in
a public place. Mike McGrath's recent post thanking Ian Weller etc for their
hard work with respect to the wiki was a great example of this, and I'm sure
meant a lot to those involved; another great example are the lesser known
contributor posts Max and Paul have run over recent times.

Best,

Jon

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Old 06-03-2008, 07:34 PM
seth vidal
 
Default Tracking contributions

On Tue, 2008-06-03 at 14:19 -0500, Josh Boyer wrote:
> That isn't quite what I was thinking. What if people literally don't
> want any manhours spent on Fedora to be tracked at all? Good or bad?
> Contribution tracking is inevitable given the FAS account requirement.
> But time spent on said contributions can be a sensitive subject and not
> everyone may want to have that number floating around somewhere.

+1. It's also demoralizing. I'd be irritated reporting
hours/minutes/days spent on specific tasks for a paying job. I can't
imagine doing it for a volunteer job.

-sv




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Old 06-03-2008, 08:00 PM
Greg Dekoenigsberg
 
Default Tracking contributions

On Tue, 3 Jun 2008, Josh Boyer wrote:


1) How do you do it across the Project as a whole without resorting to
a "timecard" that contributors punch.


We make sure that everything is tied as clearly as possible to FAS2
account info, and then we collect measurements where it makes sense.


Right... so if you spend 20 hours working on a bug and a patch for it,
the only thing you're going to get hits for in FAS are (assuming the
tooling is in place) the individual bugzilla entries and the CVS
commit. Those will tally totals of seconds.


You are focusing entirely too much on units of time. I'm thinking more
about units of work. A patch is valuable. If someone puts even one patch
in bugzilla, we should know about it.



2) How do you get around the fact that some people might not want their
contribution time tracked?


We make it so that they don't have to do the work, and whenever we present
"metrics", we do it in such a way that we're never penalizing, only
rewarding. No volunteer wants to hear "you didn't do enough to suit us,"
but many might like to hear "you did a tremendous amount of work that we
saw." And if that drives a bit of competition, so much the better.


That isn't quite what I was thinking. What if people literally don't
want any manhours spent on Fedora to be tracked at all? Good or bad?
Contribution tracking is inevitable given the FAS account requirement.
But time spent on said contributions can be a sensitive subject and not
everyone may want to have that number floating around somewhere.


Again, you are focusing too much on time. I don't think anyone, Jef
included, was looking for strict metrics of time. They're never worth the
trouble.



3) How do you account for transient contributors? E.g. The overall
contribution time for a particular area may stay the same across two
different time periods. It could be all from the same contributor
base, or it could be spread across a bunch of different contributors
that come and go. The wiki would likely be a decent example of the
latter.


It's got to be possible to track different kinds of contributions. How
many times did "gdk" edit the wiki? Check something into a repo? Show up
on various mailing lists?


You are tracking contributions there, not manhours and time. If you
want to track contributions, just have FAS tie into
http://www.ohloh.net.


Sure. Just as soon as we can install our own open source Ohloh instance.




5) How do you quantify "intangibles" like helping people on #fedora?


Make them tangible. Collect IRC screen names in FAS2, and do some
analysis.


That's iffy at best.


Why? It's data. Data is useful. It's not the pinnacle of civilization,
but it is useful.



6) How do you actively "recruit" people to areas that need help without
driving them away altogether?

By emphasizing them on the Join page, which is increasingly becoming an

effective vector into the project. Of course, the fact is that you can't
make a volunteer do anything they don't really want to do, which is
something we must be cognizant of at all times.


Right, and that is sort of my point. Knowing what areas need help is
one thing, but if said areas are perceived as boring or unrewarding then
pimping them will only be so effective. So we can point people there,
but we don't want to discourage them by not allowing them to work where
their interest lies.


Of course not.

Look, metrics are important. Data is important. It helps you make better
decisions. We shouldn't be ruled by data, but we shouldn't pass up
sensible opportunities to collect it and analyze it, either. Even the
most rudimentary data analysis can frequently tell you things you didn't
know.


--g

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Old 06-03-2008, 08:10 PM
"Jeff Spaleta"
 
Default Tracking contributions

On Tue, Jun 3, 2008 at 12:00 PM, Greg Dekoenigsberg <gdk@redhat.com> wrote:
> You are focusing entirely too much on units of time. I'm thinking more
> about units of work. A patch is valuable. If someone puts even one patch
> in bugzilla, we should know about it.


Yes, units of work. my original comment concerning office hours was in
the context of organizing frontline help in #fedora because i think of
time spent as the unit of work for that specific case.

-jef

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Old 06-03-2008, 08:19 PM
Max Spevack
 
Default Tracking contributions

On Tue, 3 Jun 2008, Greg Dekoenigsberg wrote:

Again, you are focusing too much on time. I don't think anyone, Jef
included, was looking for strict metrics of time. They're never worth
the trouble.


+1

In my experience in the professional world, almost every time a group
inside a company or organization is asked to account for how they spent
their hours, it follows with much gnashing of teeth by the employees and
general thinking that the management is doing it wrong.


Am I wrong? Or are my experiences simply too narrow?

--Max

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Old 06-03-2008, 08:28 PM
seth vidal
 
Default Tracking contributions

On Tue, 2008-06-03 at 22:19 +0200, Max Spevack wrote:
> On Tue, 3 Jun 2008, Greg Dekoenigsberg wrote:
>
> > Again, you are focusing too much on time. I don't think anyone, Jef
> > included, was looking for strict metrics of time. They're never worth
> > the trouble.
>
> +1
>
> In my experience in the professional world, almost every time a group
> inside a company or organization is asked to account for how they spent
> their hours, it follows with much gnashing of teeth by the employees and
> general thinking that the management is doing it wrong.
>
> Am I wrong? Or are my experiences simply too narrow?
>

Your experiences are entirely accurate, ime.

-sv


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