During the last days, the openSUSE Team has proposed several changes in
the openSUSE processes and tools:
The main goal of this mail is to present another idea that was already
discussed during the recent openSUSE Summit: the Karmafication of the
openSUSE infrastructure. People there liked the idea and some related
topics have already been raised in the last days on both Factory and
Project mailing lists, so we bring the idea here for wider debate and
especially to get input from you all.
Where can Karmafication be useful?
1. Decision making.
As you all know, most final decisions on the technical side rests in
Coolo's shoulders. He plays the role of a benevolent dictator, working
based on his perception of skills and dedication. Sure he is fair and
experienced but still a single human being.
We lack a clear path from newbie to contributor and then to experienced
contributor (like maintainer, reviewer etc). Also, we have a wide
variety of guidelines which we'd like people to follow better but which
aren't hard rules.
There are areas in openSUSE that do not get the love and attention they
deserve in both technical and non-technical terms. People who work on
them should be recognized and rewarded.
How does Karmafication support the factory proposal goals in the above
The idea is to add certain 'social' features to our infrastructure to
better track contributions and make them more visible. Contributors
would earn AND lose karma points based on their actions (or lack of
them), that's why we are calling it 'Karmafication'. We explicitly want
to avoid the word 'gamification' because is not only about engaging
people or motivating them. The main goal is to help our decision making
processes: we're a meritocracy (or a do-ocracy, if you prefer) which is
very much trust-based, and that trust is very much based on what you do
and what you did in the recent past.
Karma should have an impact in:
1. Decision making.
Make contributions visible: credit where it is due. Having a profile
page for every contributor in OBS would be useful in decision making at
all levels. Is this person a good candidate to become technical
reviewer? Should I accept this risky SR to factory? In the future, once
the system is mature enough, a minimum of karma could even be required
to perform some actions.
By defining tasks and rewards we could 'spell out' a path, or several,
from beginner to more experienced contributor. Think for example a
number of tasks around your first step to contributing; or tasks related
to more advanced hackery like fixing certain type of bugs. It could
also be used as a way of define best practices for OBS and encourage
people to follow them.
Motivate people and visibly reward them for working on things which
usually fly below the radar. It would be great to have openSUSE
contributors pointing to their OBS profile pages as a reference of their
skills and experience, in the same way that most open source developers
points to their github page. We could make this recognition more
tangible with some special gifts (what about a "I take care of stuff!"
A big benefit of Karmafication over other ways of reaching the same
goals is that most alternatives require making rules, commitees and
bureaucracy and require much more work. Soft motivation through
Karmafication brings us these benefits in a much nicer and more flexible
way, hopefully without the downsides of rigorous rules. See this video
for some insights in rules vs 'soft nudging': http://vimeo.com/54434167
What do you think about the whole idea?
Would you like openSUSE to be the first distribution with a karma-driven
Ancor González Sosa
openSUSE Team at SUSE Linux GmbH
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