Earlier this month at PyCon AU, VM Brasseur gave this talk on maximizing the contributions from "drive-thru" participants in your open source project. Her thesis is that most of your contributors are going to report one bug, fix one thing, and move on, so it's in your best interest to set up your project so that these one-and-done contributors have a great experience: a process which is "easy to understand, easy to follow, and which makes it easy to contribute" will make new contributors successful, and more likely to return.
Meanwhile, the Firefox team's trying to increase the number of repeat contributors, in particular, people filing quality bugs. We know that a prompt reply to a first code contribution encourages that contributor to do more, and believe the same is true of bug filing: that quickly triaging incoming bugs will encourage those contributors to file more, and better bugs, making for a healthy QA process and a higher quality product.
For now, it's rare that the first few bugs someone files in Bugzilla are "high quality" bugs - clearly described, reproducible and actionable - which means they're more likely to stall, or be closed as invalid or incomplete, which in turn means that contributor is less likely file another.
In order to have more repeat contributors, we have to work on the "drive-thru" bug filer's experience that Brasseur describes in her talk, to make new contributors successful, and make them repeat quality bug filers. Here's some of the things we're doing:
- Michael Hoye's asking new contributors about their bug-filing experience with a quick survey.
- We're measuring contributor behavior in a dashboard, to find out how often contributors, new and old are filing bugs.
- Hamilton Ulmer from the Data team is looking at an extract of bugs from Bugzilla to characterize good vs. bad bugs (that is bugs that stall, or get closed as invalid.)
- The BMO and Firefox teams have been working on UI improvements to Bugzilla (Modal View and Readable Bug Statuses) to make it easier to file and follow up on bugs.
These steps don't guarantee success, but will guide us going forward. Thanks to Michael Hoye for review and comments.