Blog Post

Tracking contributions to open source

Tracking contributions to open source

By: Georg Link

In the CHAOSS Project, we hear a lot of reasons why people want metrics. An interesting perspective is from employees who participate in open source during their work hours. This blog post explores the desire to create transparency for employees about their work in open source and highlights a tool developed to improve the transparency.

Employees contribute to open source for many reasons, including:

  • Asking a question about an open source software they have to use.
  • Requesting a new feature to help with the specific use case they work in.
  • Share with the community a solution they have developed.
  • Help other users of the open source software they use.
  • Learn better ways to leverage open source for their work

A challenge is to justify the work in open source communities and also to get recognition for the work done in open source. From a manager perspective, contributing to open source may be distracting from the “real” work an employee is paid to do. Getting credit for open source contributions can alleviate that concern.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Marco Villegas who is tackling this problem and building a solution.

Marco Villegas is a software developer, long-time contributor to Drupal, and currently working at Adapt, an agency that creates digital experiences.

To create transparency around the open source contributions he made during work hours, Marco Villegas developed a tool.

Before building a tool, Marco first started to keep track of his contributions by logging them in a text file. That was cumbersome and didn’t allow for smart reporting.

The Open Source Contributions Log tool makes this tracking and reporting easier.

Marco took inspiration from the CHAOSS metric Types of Contributions to build out new features in his tool. It now allows tracking and tagging different types of contributions, which may not always be evident in code commits, issues, or pull requests.

Other employees at Marco’s company have started to log their contributions as well.

The tool is still young and we will be interested to hear how uptake and adoption will shape conversations around employee’s contributions to open source.