Improving how we collect community feedback

July 20th, 2022 by  | Comments Off on Improving how we collect community feedback

Our software improves with each new version because the changes that we make are informed by input from our community of scholars, publishers and librarians around the world. As this community grows, it is more important than ever for us to manage the feedback we receive. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the changes we are making to provide better ways for the community to reach us.

We have always encouraged our community to give us feedback anywhere they can. You can post on our community forum, file an issue in our code repositories on GitHub, and speak to us in person at events like sprints. We want to keep all of these channels open.

However, over the years we have accumulated almost 1,000 issues in our code repository. That is too many to manage well. Critical bugs are mixed in with outdated support requests and unconfirmed bug reports. Detailed proposals for planned features are mixed in with one-off ideas from several years ago.

From today, we are putting in place some policies to help us organize bug reports and feature requests.

Where to report a bug or ask for help

Please report all bugs on our forum in the Software Support category. Before reporting a bug, you can search the forum’s support topics to see if it has already been reported. If not, you can open a new topic.

The forum is the best place to get help with our software. It is monitored by several PKP staff, as well as a number of generous community members. And it is the only place that we will offer free support to our community. (Our Publishing Services clients can still open a ticket to receive client support.)

If you are a coder, we invite you to report a bug in our GitHub repository along with detailed reproduction steps. However, you won’t receive any support on GitHub and you will be expected to be able to supply logs, database records, and example cases to help us fix the bug. If you are not able to provide this information, it’s better to post in the forum’s Software Support category.

How to suggest an improvement or make a feature request

Please suggest improvements on our forum in the Feature Requests category. Before you open a new topic, search the forum’s feature requests topics to see if anyone else has made this suggestion before.

When you post a feature request in the support category, or any other venue, you may be asked to convert your request into a topic in the feature requests category. That will help our community find and share ideas in one place. The more the community discusses an idea, the easier it is for our development team to prioritize it and begin work.

If you are a coder, you may want to propose technical changes, such as the adoption of a new library, tool, or development technique. We are now using GitHub Discussions for these conversations. Discussions are only appropriate for highly technical and detailed conversations about the code’s architecture and deployment tools.

Voting for feature requests

We have added voting to the Feature Requests category in our forum in order to help our community prioritize improvements to the software. When logged in to your account on our forum, you can vote for topics in this category that are most important to you.

 

Everyone will get 3 votes when they first join the forum. If you change your mind later, you can cancel your vote and apply it to another request. When we implement a feature request, we’ll close the topic and you’ll get to spend that vote on something else. After you have been an active member on the forum for a while, you will be allowed to cast up to 6 votes.

We continue to discuss the voting policy with our community and may choose to change the number of votes that are allowed.

What next?

Over the next year, we will slowly begin to clean up our GitHub issues. That means we will be removing outdated issues, moving feature requests to the forum, and closing unconfirmed bug reports.

If you get a notification that we’ve closed one of your issues, you haven’t done anything wrong. This is a new policy and it is going to take a while for all of us to get it right – that means us on the PKP team as well as you in the community. Please don’t be offended if we close your post or ask you to post somewhere else.

We’re always grateful to receive feedback, but we need to manage the time we spend responding to each request. We’ll never be able to respond to every request from our community. But by posting in the right place, with all the details requested, you can help make sure we reach as many people as possible.

So get out there and start engaging in the Feature Requests category of the forum. Browse the existing requests and vote for what you think are the most exciting suggestions.

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