[llvm-dev] RFC: Improving the experience of first-time contributors

PaweĊ‚ Bylica via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Tue Nov 1 10:02:12 PDT 2016


On Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 2:17 PM Alex Bradbury via llvm-dev <
llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> Some discussions the night before prompted me to do a short lightning
> talk on 'improving the experience of first-time contributors' at the
> LLVM Cauldron back in September. I intended to write it up as an RFC,
> but have only just got round to doing so. I've tried to make this
> email self-contained, but you may still want to look at the slides or
> recording of the lightning talk.
>
> Slides:
> https://speakerdeck.com/asb/can-we-improve-the-experience-of-first-time-llvm-contributors
> Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32fmbEI9WrM
>
> # The problem
> As a first-time contributor, it's easy to be put off during the patch
> submission process. e.g. the patch may sit unreviewed for weeks.
> Typically people new to the project haven't yet reviewed 'review
> currency', and so their patches are less likely to be picked out by
> others scanning through llvm-commits. Obviously nobody is doing
> anything wrong here, it's just likely to be off-putting to newcomers.
> Even if feedback is negative, it's valuable to know someone has at
> least looked at your code.
>
> # How do other projects solve this?
> I've always been impressed at how Rust has been able to attract a
> steady stream of new contributors. They have a simple but seemingly
> effective tool for helping people land their first patch: the highfive
> bot. Upon a user making their first pull request, it posts a welcome
> message and assigns someone to review it.
>

On GitHub there is a project called "mention bot" [1] by Facebook that
assigns reviewers by analysing the history of the files touched by the
patch. Recently I was welcomed by a message: "thanks for your PR! By
analyzing the history of the files in this pull request, we identified @A,
@B and @C to be potential reviewers."

[1] https://github.com/facebook/mention-bot


>
> # A proposal
> I propose that we form a group of people who specifically volunteer to
> help review first-time patches. A simple phabricator bot could assign
> someone randomly much like Rust's highfive.
>
> One potential pitfall I'd like to highlight is that many patches
> really require the sign-off of the code owner. It could be equally
> frustrating for newcomers if people helpfully tell them to tweak their
> variable names, fix their formatting, and make other cosmetic changes
> only to find that time was wasted when the code owner step in a week
> or two later to say a completely different approach needs to be used.
>
> # Next steps
>
> Does anybody have any views here? My 'raise your hand' poll at the
> LLVM Cauldron did seem to think many felt things could be improved.
> I'll be at the LLVM Dev Meeting this week and would love to discuss
> further. Perhaps the BoF on raising the next generation of LLVM
> developers would be an appropriate venue?
> http://lists.llvm.org/pipermail/llvm-dev/2016-October/106658.html
>
> Best,
>
> Alex
> _______________________________________________
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