Although GitHub is primarily used for code collaboration, WordPress’ Community team is considering adopting the platform to standardize their project management tools.
Contributing to open source can already be challenging but when it requires signing up for multiple services in order to access the team’s many spreadsheets, trello boards, Slack groups, and other modes of communication, onboarding new contributors becomes needlessly difficult.
A new proposal, authored by Community team rep Leo Gopal, outlines the benefits of using GitHub as a central communication tool. These benefits include improved collaboration and communication using the platform’s commenting system and the ability to track progress and assign tasks.
Gopal contends that standardizing on GitHub would increase transparency and accountability while supporting better organization with tools like issues, labels, milestones, and project boards.
“By adopting GitHub for project management and issue tracking, the Community Team will standardize our way of working, making it easier for new team members to get up to speed and enabling more effective cross-team collaboration,” Gopal said. “This standardization also makes it easier for Community Team members to track progress, identify issues and make data-driven decisions.”
Other Make teams, such as Learn, Hosting, Meta, Marketing and more, are already successfully using GitHub to manage communication and prioritize projects. Gopal proposes the Community team learn from their efforts and adopt these tooling methods for a quarter as an experiment.
“If after the first Quarter the consensus is that this does not suit our team, we will revert back to initial project and tracking practices and explore more,” Gopal said.
A few participants in the resulting discussion have concerns about transparency and losing track of conversations, as they would not be linked to WordPress.org profiles.
“The truth is that I am unsure about it,” Weglot-sponsored Community team contributor Juan Hernando said. “I think the community team is not particularly technical, and using GitHub may pose certain barriers we didn’t have so far. Maybe for many people opening an issue, requesting a pull request, or similar is their everyday life, but for others, it can be a bit blocking.
“I’m also afraid that discussions will move from this Make site to GitHub, and we shouldn’t lose the spirit of owning our content (linked to our .org profile) and lose the use of this space for decision-making and public discussions like this one.”
Gopal addressed this concern stating that there would be no code and that users who can work with Trello boards will have no problem adopting GitHub’s tools for planning.
“Trello was used for planning and often forgotten until time for reviews or recaps,” Gopal said. “There was no way other teams would know what we are working on or add to the conversation unless they dug up our trello boards AND if we took their suggestion and weighed it in.”
Gopal said using GitHub would allow the team to incorporate advantages like automations, assignments, and inter-team collaboration with advanced reporting capabilities. Overall, GitHub has the potential to increase the visibility of their work for those collaborating across teams.
Milana Cap, who uses GitHub to help organize the Documentation team for reporting issues and automating tasks, recommended adopting the platform and shared how the Docs team is using it.
“All the other benefits: version control, precise contribution tracking, all sorts of project management tools etc., can not be found all in one tool other than GitHub, and I can not recommend it enough – for everything,” Cap said.
Discussion is still open on the proposal and Gopal has published a Proposal Poll for Community Team members to give their feedback on standardizing communications on GitHub.
Noting that certain activities in GitHub may show as activity on .org profiles if the user has connected those accounts together (view Edit Profile in .org). Also, using GitHub for more work like this can help overall metrics of contribution. As always, a GitHub activity, Core Trac, or any other mechanism doesn’t adequately track time spent thinking or discussing matters. These are just some portion that can be measured. See https://github.com/wordpress/five-for-the-future for ideas on how the use of GitHub is helping start some metrics in Training team (Learn).