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Nice piece by David Eaves on using manager performance data to improve OS community management

August 9, 2011

Nice interview featuring David Eaves at OSCON talking about how the Bugzilla team is using community performance data to inform improved community management practices.

Developer experience is everything, and it can make or break an OS project.  People either enjoy their coding experience or they do not.

David points to Github as a real innovation in the approach to OS development.  It lowered the bar to entry and decentralized the code management process somewhat so that forking could occur in healthy and explorative ways.  Just because a fork occurs isn’t a bad thing.  The product that results still has to be defended with the original community and stand on its merits as a workable piece of code.  HOWEVER, Github or Bugzilla alone do not make for good community practice.  For that David argues that you need to use the data being generated by all those users to infer whether their experience is measuring up to their expectations.

Two immediate areas of the UX that David points to as in need of improvement: Shorter on-ramps and lower transaction costs to code commits – how long does it take to get up to speed on a branch or sprint?  what is the lag between patch contributions?  how long is the code review process?  David singles out the latter as a real villain of the peace and he explains why at Bugzilla they have decided to track code review at the project, module, bug and user levels.  By doing so Bugzilla can set developer expectations ahead of a commit, while at the same time tracking manager execution of the review process itself.

David closes with a wonderful example from LA where the city authorities opened up access to health inspection reports.  Bloggers and Media outlets like the LA Times quickly got hold of the data and started mashing it together with Yelp and GoogleMaps to present healthy eateries in neighborhoods around the city.  Can you guess what happened next?


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