Contrib-o-rama week 1

I started the year with a plan (I won’t call it a resolution. They don’t work and I dislike them.) to give back to my communities, both online and off, in small but countable ways, as a regular practice. Bigger bang-for-the-buck is on the list too — it’s an important goal of mine to do some substantive work on WordPress core this year, for instance — but the key to the bigger plan is making the small stuff happen every day. As such, the very first contribution of the year was a list of ideas that includes not only “submit a patch” and “release a plugin” but also smaller things like “answer someone’s question” and “participate in a meeting”.

If (like me) you’re just now looking for where to started, those small things are the big things. If (also like me) you’re prone to having a whiteboard full of big ideas and no time to make them all happen, the small things are a way to make sure you at least take a crack at something. But most important, the small things start to add up surprisingly fast. I got more theme reviews done in the first week of January than I did in certain whole months of last year, in large part because I didn’t want to leave too many gaps on that damned page.

I also want to kill that damned page. I started off with a manual list in order to give myself just enough pain to keep me moving on the plugin version. As I intended, it’s driving me nuts. So I’m digging away at turning the manual list into a slightly less manual list.

So what does it need to do?

  • Allow easy and automagical connection to the obvious things like WordPress Tracs and Github commit feeds
  • But don’t limit it to WordPress or for that matter to any one project. It’s meant to be a contribution-focused lifestream, not a project widget.
  • Incorporate things that don’t natively live online. The internet isn’t and shouldn’t be the only thing that counts. This is most easily done by allowing manual additions rather than limiting the stream to feeds only.
  • But still require that things are verified in some way: if a direct link to a changeset isn’t relevant, then… what? A URI, time/location stamps, anything else? What it points to gets into the somewhat philosophical problem of verifying anything; but at the same time, the stream shouldn’t be just freeform diaries or status. It must point to something real.

And maybe someday:

  • Social proof. Collaborators. Pretty reports and graphs and things. Others?