Friday, 26 October 2007

Driveby Contribution

I came across a note that I had written some time ago. The title to the note is 'driveby contribution'. This is a concept that Matt Asay talks about. To him it is a way of building a project where people can contribute the small element they need to and then leave the project. Unknowingly I facilitated this type of action when dealing with an institution who have installed WebPA.

In order for said institution to get the code working for them, they modified a line or two of code related to the LDAP authentitcation. As I am sure you can apeiciate being the current active developer on the project I can not always ensure that the code I write will always work for everyone. This was such a case - the code worked with Active directory but not with the set up that the other insitution has. The developer there was able to get the code working with the addition of a few lines. In order to let me know everything was OK the developer told me he had made the changes. I then requested that he sent me a patch. As usual I was not explicit in sending him to the source forge area, so I recieved it in my in box.

From this I, when I saw my note, it then triggered thoughts of what else can we do as a project to get more of this driveby contribution. The usual being create a modular system that people can develop elements for... but there must be other things that can be done. All I can think of is documentation and this then leds to other articles that I have read on generating community contribution[1]. I will keep looking to see what else other projects are doing and see if there is any other elements of 'driveby contribution' that can be tapped into for WebPA.

[1] http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/onlamp/2006/07/06/rethinking-community-documentation.html
http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/onlamp/2007/06/14/why-do-people-write-free-documentation-results-of-a-survey.html

2 comments:

Ross Gardler said...

WooHoo!!!!

Congratualations on attracting a third party contribution. And to think your team (like all other project teams) told us that there would never be any valuable third party contributions.

I call a bug fix that means it runs on a new platform a significant contribution, never mind the number of lines of code it consists of, it's what it does that matters.

Score one for open development in JISC projects!

I've added a link to this post to our wiki page on contributor license agreements. But that made me wonder, did the contributor knowingly agree to assign copyright to you? Can you prove it?

Re-read the doc linked to understand why this is important (it's really not as onerous as it sounds, the document has some real practical advice on the subject).

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