Outreach programs/Zulip

Wikimedia uses Zulip for its Outreach programs to connect students and mentors. Zulip is a free and open source chat group application.

Zulip logo
Zulip logo

How to join Wikimedia ZulipEdit

Wikimedia uses the Zulip instance at http://wikimedia.zulipchat.com. You can sign up for Zulip with your email address, Google or GitHub credentials.

How messages in Zulip are organizedEdit

Conversations in Zulip are organized into streams. Streams are subdivided into topics.

Streams are similar to chatrooms and mailing lists: They determine who receives a message. Each conversation thread in a stream is a topic: This is similar to the subject line of an email (though topics are usually shorter, e.g. "logo design", not "feedback on the new logo design?"); it organizes messages into topic threads.

Users can discuss a topic in a more focused and structured way, and users can search their messages and get started on particular topic faster.

 
Zulip UI

Chat workflows in ZulipEdit

Some users who have not used Zulip before may some difficulties to understand chat workflows in Zulip. Here is some explanation and tips:

  • When starting a new conversation, remember to start a new topic.
  • Don't worry about interrupting, each conversation has its own space ("topic").
  • If you see a conversation where the last message was sent a few hours (or days!) ago, feel free to reply anyway. It'll be easy for everyone to see your reply in context, regardless of anything else that has happened on the stream in the meantime.
  • Feel free to @-mention a person when you want that person to see your topic. The @-mentioned people will get a notification in their Zulip account.
  • When you refer to a specific Wikimedia Phabricator task in Zulip, simply write its number (like Txxxxxx) instead of its full link (URL).

Documentation how to use Zulip in general is available at https://zulipchat.com/help/.

Communication tips and guidelinesEdit

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:

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.

Be patientEdit

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.

Why we encourage the use of ZulipEdit

IRC chat is currently a communication tool for many projects, and it can be quite appropriate for many of them. But it is not a mobile friendly tool, and not ideal for adhoc but timely mentoring. For Google Summer of Code, Outreachy, and GSoD, we want to offer participants and mentors technology in order to maximize their outcomes and reduce the failure rate. A good mobile app is mandatory for mentors to be available for the participant in a timely fashion.

For further information, this topic had been discussed in phab:T150732.

See alsoEdit