Science and technology

The best way to deal with challenges with neighborhood metrics

The earlier two articles on this sequence checked out open supply neighborhood well being and the metrics used to grasp it. They confirmed examples of how open supply communities have measured at their well being by metrics. This closing article brings these concepts collectively, discussing the challenges of implementing neighborhood well being metrics in your personal neighborhood.

Organizational challenges

First, you have to resolve which metrics you wish to study. This requires understanding your questions on reaching your targets as a neighborhood. The metrics related to you might be these that may reply your questions. Otherwise, you danger being overwhelmed by the quantity of information obtainable.

Second, you have to anticipate the way you wish to react to the metrics. This is about making selections primarily based on what your knowledge reveals you. For instance, this consists of managing engagement with different neighborhood members, as mentioned in earlier articles.

Third, you have to differentiate between good and dangerous ends in your metrics. A standard pitfall is to match your neighborhood to different communities, however the reality is that each neighborhood works and behaves in another way. You cannot essentially even evaluate metrics throughout the similar undertaking. For instance, it’s possible you’ll be unable to match the variety of commits in repositories throughout the similar undertaking as a result of one could also be squashing commits whereas the opposite might need lots of of micro commits. You can set up a baseline of the place you might be and have been after which see whether or not you’ve got improved over time.


The closing organizational problem I wish to focus on is Personally Identifiable Information (PII) considerations. One of open supply’s core values and strengths is the transparency of how contributors work. This means everybody has details about who’s engaged, together with their title, e mail deal with, and presumably different data. There are moral concerns about utilizing that knowledge.

In latest years, laws just like the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have outlined authorized necessities for what you’ll be able to and can’t do with PII knowledge. The key query is whether or not you have to ask everybody’s permission to course of their knowledge. This is an opt-in technique. On the opposite hand, you may select to make use of the info and supply an opt-out course of.

This distinction is necessary. For occasion, suppose you are offering metrics and dashboards as a service to your neighborhood. In an effort to enhance the neighborhood, you may make the case that the (already publicly obtainable) data has higher worth for the neighborhood as soon as it is processed. Either method, make it clear what knowledge you utilize and the way you utilize it.

Technical challenges

Where is your neighborhood knowledge being collected? To reply this, think about all of the locations and platforms your neighborhood is participating in. This consists of the software program repository, whether or not it is GitLab, GitHub, Bitbucket, Codeberg, or only a mailing listing and a Git server. It may additionally embody challenge trackers, a change request workflow system like Gerrit, or a wiki.

But do not cease on the software program improvement interactions. Where else does the neighborhood exist? These could possibly be boards, mailing lists, immediate messaging channels, question-and-answer websites, or meetups. There’s plenty of exercise in open supply communities that does not strictly contain software program improvement work however that you simply wish to acknowledge in your metrics. These non-coding actions could also be onerous to trace routinely, however you need to pay particular consideration to them or danger ignoring necessary neighborhood members.

With all of those concerns addressed, it is time to take motion.

1. Retrieve the info

Once you’ve got recognized the info sources, you have to get the info and make it helpful. Collecting uncooked knowledge is nearly all the time the simplest step. You have logs and APIs for that. Once arrange, the (hopefully occasional) most important problem is when APIs and log codecs change.

2. Data enrichment

Once you could have the info, you in all probability want to counterpoint it.

First, you have to unify the info. This step consists of changing knowledge into a regular format, which isn’t any small feat. Just consider all of the other ways to precise a easy date. The order of the 12 months, month, and day varies between areas; dates might use dots, slashes, or different symbols, or they are often expressed within the Unix epoch. And that is only a timestamp!

Whatever your uncooked knowledge format is, make it constant for evaluation. You additionally wish to decide the extent of element. For instance, if you have a look at a Git log, it’s possible you’ll solely be excited by when a commit was made and by whom, which is high-level data. Then once more, perhaps you additionally wish to know what information have been touched or what number of traces have been added and eliminated. That’s an in depth view.

You may additionally wish to monitor metadata about totally different contributions. This might contain including contextual data on how the info was collected or the circumstances beneath which it was created. For instance, you would tag contributions made in the course of the Hacktoberfest occasion.

Finally, standardize the info right into a format appropriate for evaluation and visualization.

When you care about who’s lively in your neighborhood (and presumably what organizations they work for), you have to pay particular consideration to id. This is usually a problem as a result of contributors might use totally different usernames and e mail addresses throughout the varied platforms. You want a mechanism to trace a person by a number of on-line identifiers, reminiscent of a difficulty tracker, mailing listing, and chat.

You may pre-process knowledge and calculate metrics in the course of the knowledge enrichment part. For instance, the unique uncooked knowledge might have a timestamp of when a difficulty was opened and closed, however you actually wish to know the variety of days the difficulty has been open. You may additionally have categorization standards for contributions, reminiscent of figuring out which contribution got here from a core contributor, who’s been doing lots in a undertaking, what number of “fly by” contributors present up after which depart, and so forth. Doing these calculations in the course of the enrichment part makes it simpler to visualise and analyze the info and requires much less overhead at later phases.

3. Make knowledge helpful

Now that your knowledge is prepared, you have to resolve make it helpful. This entails determining who the consumer of the data is and what they wish to do with it. This helps decide current and visualize the info. One factor to recollect is that the info could also be fascinating however not impactful by itself. The finest method to make use of the info is to make it a part of a narrative about your neighborhood.

You can use the info in two methods to inform your neighborhood story:

  • Have a narrative in thoughts, after which confirm that the info helps the way you understand the neighborhood. You can use the info as proof to corroborate the story. Of course, you need to search for proof that your story is incorrect and attempt to refute it, much like the way you make a scientific speculation.
  • Use knowledge to seek out anomalies and fascinating developments you would not have in any other case noticed. The outcomes can assist you assemble a data-driven story in regards to the neighborhood by offering a brand new perspective that maybe has outgrown informal remark.

Solve issues with open supply

Before you deal with the technical challenges, I wish to provide the excellent news that you simply’re in open supply expertise, and others have already solved lots of the challenges you are going through. There are a number of open supply options obtainable to you:

  • CHAOSS GrimoireLab: The trade customary and enterprise-ready answer for neighborhood well being analytics.
  • CHAOSS Augur: A analysis undertaking with a well-defined knowledge mannequin and bleeding-edge performance for neighborhood well being analytics.
  • Apache Kibble: The Apache Software Foundations’ answer for neighborhood well being analytics.
  • CNCF Dev Analytics: CNCF’s GitHub statistics for neighborhood well being analytics.

To overcome organizational challenges, depend on the CHAOSS Project, a neighborhood of observe round neighborhood well being.

The necessary factor to recollect is that you simply and your neighborhood aren’t alone. You’re part of a bigger neighborhood that is always rising.

I’ve lined lots previously three articles. Here’s what I hope you are taking away:

  • Use metrics to establish the place your neighborhood wants assist.
  • Track whether or not particular actions result in adjustments.
  • Track metrics early, and set up a baseline.
  • Gather the simple metrics first, and get extra refined later.
  • Present metrics in context. Tell a narrative about your neighborhood.
  • Be clear along with your neighborhood about metrics. Provide a public dashboard and publish stories.

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