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From Markus Weimer <>
Subject Re: Suggestions on how to increase community involvement on Apache MXNet incubating?
Date Thu, 04 Jan 2018 17:51:18 GMT
I really like most of what has been said, and the below might be a bit of a
repeat, but through a different lens.

One key aspect to consider when thinking about participation in OSS
projects is the journey a contributor makes, which starts before even using
the software. Each of the steps of the journey is only traversed by a
minuscule number of people, so it is a good idea to have as many people as
possible lined up at the beginning of the process :) A quick guestimate of
the journey for a future contributor looks something like this:

1) They have to know off the project, which can be addressed by
conferences, talks at universities and such.
2) They have to want to become users. This is really difficult to make
happen externally :)
3) They have to be successful in their first use. Tutorials help with that,
and I think mxnet is doing a fantastic job there with the Gluon book.
4) They need to be able to "lurk" among other users: There needs to be a
place where the users of the software come together and chat, complain and
help. Specifically, there should be *one* such place. The exact mechanisms
can differ, but I found that email lists still serve this use case well, as
they are sticky: Once subscribed, people stay informed :)

If we get people to this stage, we can be proud: We just gained
contributors: They are helping each other out, advocate for the project and
all. Now, the next step is for them to contribute to the code in addition
to the community:

5) They have to know how to contribute, e.g. a bug report. And that first
time they do it needs to be encouraging for future contributions.
6) They need to be able to observe the work as it happens, e.g. by lurking
on the mailing list. This gives context on what the community thinks about,
how it makes decisions, ... . Just like in RL, observing a community gives
confidence on how to engage with it.
7) When they start thinking about contributing, the process to do so needs
to be clear. If step 6) worked, this doesn't even have to be very formal.

Certainly, there are steps and hurdles that I forgot. There is a reason
whole PhD theses are written about participation in OSS. But thinking down
the lines of the journey should help us identify actions to be taken.

With that descriptive stuff being said, allow me to be prescriptive with
some ideas:

(1) Drop all communications channels besides the dev list.This greatly
simplifies lurking. My $DAY_JOB doesn't give me a chance to really follow
slack, for instance. But I read every email on this list.
(2) For those of you collocated in the same institution: Force yourself to
not talk about mxnet in the office or at lunch. Pretend not to be in the
same room or even on the same continent. Move all discussions onto the
list. This makes lurking easier, and, in my experience, improves the
quality of the technical discussions.
(3) Decide on one way for users to discuss among each other. Most Apache
projects use email lists for it as well. Which, granted, is pretty old

Thanks for reading this far, I did not have enough time to write less :)


On Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 5:22 AM, Pedro Larroy <>

> Agreed with Chris and Jeff. Googling for MXNet roadmap is
> enlightening. Also the communication channels are disperse.
> I would remove suggesting "Ask questions" in issues in the
> because this encourages inflation of issues that are just questions.
> We should link to the slack channel or discuss or mailing list in the
> README and be clear on how to use those communication channels.
> More visibility on epics / roadmap in something like Trello? Roadmap
> tagged issues right not don't seem to be really maintained.
> Explicitly asking in a TODO file or in the README or the Wiki on how
> other people can contribute.
> Having a list of "low hanging fruit" issues for newcomers to pick and
> get familiar contributing to the project.
> Making a blog post about how to contribute to MXNet, can be as simple
> as how to use CLion to contribute to the project and send a patch...
> Just my thoughts.
> Pedro.
> On Wed, Jan 3, 2018 at 9:55 PM, Chris Olivier <>
> wrote:
> > I suggest more transparency in the development process and requirement
> > definitions and grooming.
> >
> > Backlog wish-list on public wiki, which link to public JIRA epics or
> > stories, where people outside of Amazon can edit/comment on the items or
> > add items themselves.
> >
> >
> > On Wed, Jan 3, 2018 at 11:48 AM, Bhavin Thaker <>
> > wrote:
> >
> >> Hi Team,
> >>
> >> Do you have any suggestions on how to increase community involvement and
> >> contributions including code additions/changes, bug-fixes/enhancements,
> >> documentation updates, tutorials, increased adoption, answering
> questions
> >> on Stackoverflow/, etc.?
> >>
> >> While I have asked multiple questions in the one question above, I am
> >> looking for more ideas or thoughts.
> >>
> >> Cheers,
> >> Bhavin Thaker.
> >>

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