New Developers/Communication tips
Follow these tips to communicate effectively and get help from community members.
Use Phabricator tasks effectivelyEdit
When you plan to work on a Phabricator task:
- No need to ask for permission: You can work on unassigned tasks without asking someone to assign them to you. There is no authority who assigns tasks or who needs to be asked first.
- If a task already has a recent patch in Gerrit, choose a different task to work on instead.
- If an existing patch in Gerrit has not been merged and has not seen any changes for a long time, you could improve that existing patch, based on the feedback in Gerrit and in the task.
- Do your research: When you consider working on a task, do research before you start coding. Look at the code, try to understand what it is supposed to do, read related documentation, and try to find the places where you need to make code changes.
- In a Phabricator task, use the project tags in the side bar to find the code repository for the task.
- If you have no idea at all how to fix the bug, consider finding an easier one first.
- You do not need to announce your plans before you start working on a task, but you should communicate that you are working on the task.
- When you start work, set yourself as task assignee by clicking Edit Task… in Phabricator, and set your Phabricator username in the Assigned To field. This communicates to others that you are working on it, so they don't duplicate work.
- When your plans or interests change: If you are no longer working on a task, remove yourself as the assignee of the task. This tells others that they can work on the task, and they won't expect you to still work on it.
- Follow Phabricator etiquette.
- In Phabricator tasks, discuss only specific questions about the topic of that task. Don't use Phabricator to ask general questions, like how to set up a development environment or how to fix problems with Gerrit.
Compose good questionsEdit
- Don't ask to ask...just ask!.
- Be specific and provide context: Instead of simply asking "Can you give me more info?", "Please guide me", or "Please tell me how to start", include the following information in your question:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What have you already tried? Copy and paste your commands and their output (if not too long) instead of paraphrasing in your own words.
- What have you found out already during your research? Include links to code, documentation, or other resources you already consulted.
- Use specific titles and subject lines in your communication. "Proposal draft" or "Need help" is not specific.
- Keep conversations readable: When you reply in Zulip, in Phabricator tasks, or on mailing lists, only quote sections of previous comments that are relevant to your response. If you quote a complete previous comment, it makes threads hard to read.
Follow communication policies and best practicesEdit
Before you send or post your question:
- Read and follow the code of conduct for Wikimedia technical spaces.
- Use Inclusive language: Instead of using terms that assume a gender identity (like "guys", "madam", or "sir") use the name of the person instead.
Ask in the right placeEdit
- Ask in public: Do not send private messages if your conversation topic is not secret. Private messages don't help others.
- Ask and discuss in the best place:
- In Phabricator tasks, discuss only specific questions about the topic of that task.
- Ask general technical questions, like how to set up a development environment or how to fix problems with Gerrit, in the places listed on Communication.
- If you take part in an outreach program, then Zulip is for discussing questions about the outreach programs themselves.
After you post your question:
- Do not ask people for code review in a separate message. People receive Gerrit and Phabricator notifications and will respond when they can.
- When seeking input and comments, especially during weekends and holidays, you may need to wait until business hours resume. On chat channels like IRC: if nobody answers, try again at a different time; don't just give up!
- If you don't get an answer even after waiting and being patient, consider if other Communication channels might be a better place to ask your question.