[IPython-dev] Should I still contribute to IPython ?

Brian Granger ellisonbg at gmail.com
Mon Dec 17 19:02:40 EST 2012

On Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 2:36 PM, Aaron Meurer <asmeurer at gmail.com> wrote:
> I remember reading about a study that said that open source projects
> that have funded developers actually get less contributions (or at
> least fewer contributors) because there is a mindset of, "why should I
> contribute when there is someone who is paid to do it? Surely that
> person/persons will get around to fixing the issue themselves."  I
> think the email Matthias received is indicative of this mindset.
> Clearly it is wrong (obviously, more contributions are still more
> contributions), but I think you should really think about how to make
> this permeate through your community, so that you minimize the number
> of people who end up thinking this way.
> One good thing to do, as Matthias said, is to always encourage people
> to write their own patches.  It is an investment to spend a day
> helping someone write up a pull request for a fix when you could have
> done the whole thing yourself in under half an hour, but by guiding
> the new contributor, you potentially gain a new developer.  Ondřej
> Čertík wrote a blog post a while back about how he managed to make
> SymPy such a successful community
> http://ondrejcertik.blogspot.com/2009/05/my-experience-with-running-opensource.html.
>  The gist of it is what I just said.
> For your situation, I think this additionally sends the message that
> it is not only OK, but encouraged to send your own patches, rather
> than wait for those people who are being paid to fix the bug for you.

Yes, I really like how Ondrej has always encouraged people to send
patches and I think we need to encourage people to do that.  Part of
the reality is that a good portion of our Sloan funded time on the
project will be reviewing pull requests - and that is a good thing.

>> * How do we coordinate all of this activity?  Already, our github
>> issues are becoming unusable because of the sheer number of them.  We
>> have to figure out a better way of using github issues, wiki pages,
>> etc. to coordinate the increased activity the grant will bring.
> I'm curious how you end up solving this problem.  I've found the
> GitHub issues to be minimalistic, which makes them easy to use, but
> they also lack in some key features that make managing thousands of
> issues bearable.

I know it probably sounds heretical, but I think that part of the
solution has to be to reduce the number of issues.  I don't mean by
closing issues by working harder and coding more, I mean simply
*closing* them outright to reflect the reality that we are not going
to work on them anytime soon.  There is no universe where it is useful
to have thousands of issues.  How many can each developer
realistically keep track of?  A few dozen?  When there are more than
that we simply ignore the issues and work on the things we want to
work on...I was recently talking to the lead developer of a large open
source project that has this problem, and he said "oh it's horrible
and I completely ignore our issues on github"  Personally, when I am
working heavily on the notebook, I maintain my own "issues list" in a
markdown document on my desktop.  We have to figure out a better



>> * Currently, we don't really have any long/medium term planning for
>> the project.  Our current model works great for attracting the types
>> of contributions we are getting right now, but it makes it very
>> difficult to tackle larger projects that require a coordinated and
>> sustained effort by multiple people.  I don't know what it will look
>> like, but we are going to need to do this type of planning for the
>> project.
>> * How do we manage communication?  Verbal communication is much more
>> efficient than emails or even IRC.  The 4 people at Berkeley will have
>> an incredible advantage in being able to talk daily.  We don't want to
>> cripple or remove that advantage, but we need to figure out how to
>> include other core devs and people from the community.  This is
>> particularly relevant to myself as I am the only person involved in
>> the Sloan work that is not at Berkeley.
> An idea floated around SymPy at some point to use Google+ hangouts
> (basically, multi-way video chats).  We haven't tried it yet, but it
> seems like it might work well.
> Aaron Meurer
>> Cheers,
>> Brian
>>> Sorry for the length,
>>> --
>>> Matthias
>>> [Grant announce on HN] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4909070
>>> And a small link, also from hacker news to conclude :
>>> [Dear Open Source Project Leader: Quit Being A Jerk]
>>> http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4921152
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> IPython-dev mailing list
>>> IPython-dev at scipy.org
>>> http://mail.scipy.org/mailman/listinfo/ipython-dev
>> --
>> Brian E. Granger
>> Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo
>> bgranger at calpoly.edu and ellisonbg at gmail.com
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Brian E. Granger
Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo
bgranger at calpoly.edu and ellisonbg at gmail.com

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