Public Lab Research note

Web Working Group Update 12: November

by warren | December 05, 2016 15:19 05 Dec 15:19 | #13746 | #13746

I'm starting up the Web Working Group's monthly reports again, and, 6 months later, the kind of updates I've got have really changed!

Our software contributing community is far larger today than it was then; as noted in this recent post, more than 1/3 of our contributors over the past 4 years joined since August. In the past month, we've had 22 people submit new code or bugfixes, and almost all are new to our project.

Outreach update

So this update is as much about our continued #software-outreach efforts as it is about the software itself.

Things have progressed quickly, and dozens of features and bugfixes have been solved, putting pressure on us to continue preparing issues for the many contributors who show up -- a good problem to have!

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Entry points

Sebastian, our sysadmin, asked a great question -- how are all these newcomers finding us? It's part of a concerted outreach strategy, which happens more on social media than on, and we've reached out on several channels:

From there, as we update links, newcomers are increasingly landing on our new "welcome page" at has also been updated, with new activities such as Create a welcoming first-timers-only issue.

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We've created a new Gitter channel as a test (by popular demand!), for software contributors to coordinate and troubleshoot in real-time, and it's already become an extremely active channel: (see screenshot above)

Finally, we're using GitHub's new Projects feature to track and remain organized about facilitating contributions and ensuring people (and issues) don't get stuck:

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From all this organizing, you can see the huge amount of new activity on our software at GitHub Pulse:

One big question is how we can scale up our community to support all these new contributors to make a second, third, tenth, hundredth contribution. To become leaders in the project in their own right. So...

New supportive groups

I posted recently about joining "supportive groups" -- and this past week, we had 4 people actually join a new "@publiclab/reviewers" group - @ananyo2012, @ashleypt, @ryzokuken, @ykl7 (their GitHub usernames). Ananyo you may remember from this past summer's Google Summer of Code program, as the author of our new Questions system.

They've agreed to help greet and encourage new contributors, and to offer input and helpful suggestions when folks submit new pull requests with fixes or new features. We've learned that this personal contact and welcoming really makes the difference!

Google Code-In

As if this weren't enough, Ananyo has also signed us up for Google Code-In, with support from umbrella org FOSSASIA, and have already engaged four high school students in projects across our codebase. Amazing work, Ananyo!

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With our new #internationalization work from the past summer, translations are ongoing, with german added to our languages dropdown menu (check it out!), and progress on Chinese translation as well.

Are you stuck?

We're doing our best to identify coding projects or features that have become "stuck" due to lack of information, or a clear next step, and we're meeting weekly in an open call (comment if you're interested!) to take suggestions for "stuck" issues.

This past week, we took a stab at breaking up our "wiki locking" issue here:

Next week we expect to put some work into breaking up and articulating next steps for front end work on the geography project (, starting with

That's it for this month! More soon, and thanks to everyone who's made this a success in the past few months!


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