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Alias (5735)

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Journal of Alias (5735)

Sunday November 29, 2009
07:23 PM

Some interesting group dynamics in Padre

[ #39962 ]

Padre continues to move forwards in leaps and bounds, with most of the recent progress made by the ever-enthusiastic Sebastian Willing.

However, over the last year I've noticed an interesting effect in the pattern of volunteering.

Padre seems to go through cycles with "Alpha" contributors. These are the people that are doing huge numbers of commits, and moving things forward rapidly. However, as an Alpha contributor picks up speed we seem to see other contributors start to fall back and go quiet.

It's almost as if people are happy as long as Padre keeps improving and don't feel like Padre needs their help, so they are just getting out the way of the person doing all the heavy lifting.

Of course, last Christmas/New Years when I was the Alpha contributor, this was also because I was breaking major APIs every week or so. Unless you had time to deal with the breakages, you more or less had to just stay out the way.

It's when the current Alpha runs out of steam or time or attention and their commits fall back to low levels that we see the other contributors come out of their shells and start to commit a bit more.

Sometimes it just seems like co-incidence. I've been horribly busy in November until today, and Stephen Mueller has been out and about doing his Physics thing, so we both haven't been able to do much until very recently.

From a productivity point of view, however, I do worry a little about the Alpha effect. From my time as Alpha, I know I was a little disconcerted that I seemed to be the only one doing anything and nobody else seemed to be committing.

Of course, within two weeks of my burning out and slowing, everyone else started to pick up again. But I wish we had a way to support the Alphas a bit more, so they didn't feel quite so alone during their sprints and had more encouragement (in the form of other people lifting their game as well)

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  • This effect is very real, I think.

    I saw a similar effect in Perl::Critic. When I first got commit, it seemed like Jeff took a short breather. When Elliot joined, I couldn't keep up with his energy and had to work just to keep up with the commit emails let alone the code. Now, I've been gone from P::C so long that I feel I'll have to relearn a lot just to make a contribution.

    I had a related experience trying to contribute to Rakudo. I was trying to learn Parrot, Perl6 and Rakudo at the same time and the

  • Tiny nitpick. It's Steffen. :)


  • so has padre gotten a whiz-bang documentor to let we peons know what the hell we can use?

    i found such things sadly lacking, and hopefully I am woefully out of date

    maybe all I need is a pointer to find the very fine documentation...

    • Padre lacks a lot of documentation.

      There is a wiki page with the list of features [] but it is does not contain everything.

      Clearly we need some people who will help the project by adding documentation.

      • Thank you for pointing out that wiki page with a list of features.

        I hope someday there will be a page that tells more directly how to access or use the features, rather than mostly listing their presense. Often I am mystified about how to get to a feature.

        Padre seems like a great idea. But the learning curve appears very very steep (to me).

        • You can use it as a notepad and then start learning about the features. That way you could also help creating the descriptions to help the next person.

          Or just ask question on the Padre IRC channel or on the Padre mailing list. See the contact info [] for details.