Plan to level up contributors with Fedora Hubs!

Fedora Hubs

What’s going on with Hubs?

So a little update for those not following closely to get you up to date:

  • We have a big milestone we’re working towards – a working version of Fedora Hubs in time for Flock. It won’t have all of the bells and whistles of the mockups that we’ve presented, but it will be usable and hopefully demonstrate the potential of the app as well and enable more development.
  • We have a number of fantastic interns coming on board (including Devyani) who will be helping us work on Fedora Hubs this summer.
  • pingou is going to be leading development on fedora-hubs.
  • I’m clearly back from an extended leave this past winter and cranking back on mockups again. 🙂
  • ryanlerch has upgraded hubs to fedora-bootstrap so it has a fresh look and feel (which you’ll see reflected in mockups moving forward.)
  • Overall, we’ve gotten more momentum than ever before with a clear goal and timeline, so you’ll hopefully be seeing a lot more of these juicy updates more frequently!

(“Wait, what is Fedora Hubs?” you ask. This older blog post has a good summary.)
Okay, so let’s move on and talk about Hubs and Badges, particularly in light of some convos we’ve had in the regular weekly Fedora Hubs check-in meetings as well as an awesome hack session Remy D. and jflory7 pulled together last Thursday night.

Fedora Hubs + Badges – what’s old is new again

Behold, a mockup from 2011:
Fedora RPG mockup
In a sense, this is actually an early prototype/idea for Fedora Hubs + Badges integration. Remember that one of the two main goals of Fedora Hubs is to enable new Fedora users and make it easier for them to get bootstrapped into the project. Having tasks in the form of badges awarded for completing a task arranged in “missions” makes it clear and easy for new contributors to know what they can do and what they can do next to gradually build up their skills and basically ‘level up’ and feel happy, helpful, and productive. So there’s a clear alignment between badges and hubs in terms of goals.
So that was 2011, where are we going in 2016?

First thoughts about a badge widget

We have a couple of tickets relating to badges in the hubs issue tracker:

As we’ve been figuring out as we’ve been going through the needsmockup queue and building widgets, most widgets have at least two versions: the user version (what data in this widget relates to me? Across all projects, what bugs are assigned to me?) versus the project version (across all users, what bugs relate to this project?) You can’t just have one badges widget, because certain data related to that widget is more or is less useful in the context it’s being viewed in.
Today, the Fedora badges widget in Hubs is not unlike the one on the Fedora wiki (I have both the sidebar version and the content side version on my profile.) It’s basically small versions of the badge icon art in a grid (screenshot from the wiki version):
screenshot of wiki badges widget
The mockup below (from issue #85) shows what a little pushing in terms of working the metadata we’ve got available can do to provide a clearer picture of the badge earner via the badges he or she has won (left version is compressed, right version is expanded):
mockup of badges widget for hubs profiles

Layering on some more badgery

The above mockups are all just layer 0 stuff though. Layer 0? Yeh, here’s a hokey way of explaining how we’re starting to think about hubs development, particularly in the context of getting something out the door for Flock:

  • Layer 0 – stuff we already have in place in hubs, or refinements on what’s already implemented.
  • Layer 1 – new feature development at a base level – no whizbang or hoozits, and absolutely nothing involving modifications to ‘upstream’ / data-providing apps. (Remember that Hubs is really a front-end on front of fedmsg… we’re working with data coming from many other applications. If a particular type or format of data isn’t available to us, we have to modify the apps putting that data on the bus to be able to get it.)
  • Layer 2 – making things a bit nicer. We’re not talking base model here, we’re getting some luxury upgrades, but being pretty sensible about them. Maybe making some modifications to the provider apps.
  • Layer 3 – solid gold, gimme everything! This is the way we want things, having to make modifications to other apps isn’t of concern.

To get something out the door for Flock… we have to focus mostly on layer 0 and layer 1 stuff. This is hard, though, because when this team gets together we have really awesome, big, exciting ideas and it’s hard to scale back. 🙂 It’s really fun to brainstorm together and come up with those ideas too. In the name of fun, let’s talk through some of the layers we’ve been talking about for badges in hubs in particular, and through this journey introduce some of the big picture ideas we have.

Badges Layer 1: Tagging Along

An oftrequested feature of tahrir, the web app that powers, is the notion of grouping badges together in a series (similar to the “missions” in the 2011 mockup above.) The badges in the series can be sequentially ordered, or they may have no particular order. Some in a series can have a sequential ordering and some not at all.
Here’s an example of badges with a sequential ordering (this series goes on beyond these, but the example three illustrate the concept well enough):

Here’s an example of badges that are closely related but have no particular sequence or order to them:

You can see, I hope, how having these formally linked together would be a boon for onboarding contributors. If you earned the first badge artist badge, for example, the page could link you to the next in the series… you could view a summary of it and come to understand you’d need to make artwork for only four more badges to get to the next level. Even if there isn’t a specific order, having a group of badges that you have to complete to get the whole group, like a field of unchecked checkboxes (or unpopped packing bubbles), kind of gives you the urge to complete them all. (Pop!) If a set of badges correspond to a set of skills needed to ramp up for work on a given project, that set would make a nice bootstrapping set that you could make a prerequisite for any new join requests to your project hub. So on and so forth.
So here’s the BIG SECRET:
There’s no badge metadata that links these together at all.
How do we present badges in series without this critical piece of metadata? We use a system already in place – badge tags. Each series could have an agreed upon tag, and all badges with that tag can become a group. This won’t give us the sequential ordering that some of the badges demand, but it’ll get us a good layer 1 to start. Mockup forthcoming on this, but it will get us a nicer badge widget for project / team hubs (issue #17).

Badges Layer 2: Real Badge Metadata

Here’s layer 2 for the feature – and I thought this would be the end of the road before Remy set us straight (more on that in the next section on layer 3):
So this one is somewhat simple. We potentially modify the badges themselves by adding additional fields to their yaml files (example behind link), and modify tahrir, the web app that drives badges.fpo, to parse and store those new fields. I tried to piece together a plan of attack for achieving this in tahrir ticket #343.
The problem here is that this would necessarily require changing the data model. It’s possible, but also a bit of a pain, and not something you want to do routinely – so this has to be done carefully.
Part of this would also involve dropping our overloading of tags. Now we can store descriptions for each badge series, and store sequential ordering for individual badges, and a few other nice things tags couldn’t enable.
If we’re changing the data model for layer 2, may as well also change it for *LAYER 3!!*, which I am emphasizing out of excitement.

Layer 3: How the years I spent playing Final Fantasy games finally pay off

skill tree diagram
“A simplified example of a skill tree structure, in this case for the usage of firearms.” Created by user Some_guy on Wikipedia; used under a CC0 license.

Remy D. suggested instead of linear and flat groupings of badges, we also add the ability to link them together into a skill tree. Now, you may already have experience with say the Final Fantasy series, Diablo series, Star Wars: The Old Republic, or other RPG-based games. Related skills are grouped together in particular zones of the tree, and depending on which zones of the tree you have filled out, you sort of fulfill a particular career path or paths. (e.g., in the case of Final Fantasy X… when you work towards filling out Lulu’s sphere grid area, you’re making your character a dark mage. When you work towards filling out Rikku’s area, you’re building skills towards become a skilled thief. So on, and so forth.)
Where this gets cool for Fedora is that we not only can help contributors get started and feeling awesome about their progress by presenting them clear sequences of badges to complete to earn a series (layer 2), but we can also help guide them towards building a ‘career’ or even multiple ‘careers’ (or ‘hats,’ heh) within the project and build their personal skill set as well. Today we already have five main categories for badges in terms of the artwork templates we use, but we can break these down further if need be – as-is, they map neatly to ‘careers’ in Fedora:

  • Community
  • Content
  • Development
  • Quality
  • Events

Fedora contributors could then choose to represent themselves using a radar chart (example displayed below), and others can get a quick visual sense of that contributor’s skillset:

So that’s layer 3. 🙂

Okay, so have you actually thought about what badges should be chained together for what teams?

Yes. 🙂 Remy D. and jflory7 started a list by researching the current onboarding procedures across a number of Fedora teams. Coming up with the actual arrangements of badges within series is important work too that has a big influence on whether or not the system actually works for end users! These suggestions Remy and Justin put together are suggestions of badges new contributors should complete while getting boostrapped and ready to contribute to the corresponding team.
In some cases these involve existing badges, in some cases additional badges we need to create to support the scenario have been uncovered. (This is great work, because over time badges has tended to be unbalanced in terms of awarding folks involved in packaging and who go to a lot of events more than others. It makes sense – the packaging infrastructure was the first part of Fedora’s infrastructure to get hooked up to fedmsg IIRC, so the data was more readily available.)
Here’s an excerpt of the first-cut of that work by Justin and Remy:

  1. Get a FAS Account (sign the FPCA) (Involvement)
  2. Create a User Wiki Page
  3. Join Mailing Lists and IRC Channels
  4. Contact a Regional Mentor, get sponsored
  5. Get mentor approval
  6. Attend regional ambassador meeting, introduce yourself
  1. If no fas account, create one (Involvement)
  2. Intro to commops mailing list
  3. Join IRC #fedora-commops
  4. Get with a mentor and start writing / editing blog / fed mag articles
  1. Create a FAS account (sign the FPCA) (Involvement)
  2. Join the mailing list, introduce yourself:
  3. Claim a ticket in the Design Trac:
  4. Update your ticket, send updated information to Design List
  5. Once work is approved, request an invite for your FAS username for the design-team group on the design team list:
  6. Add yourself to the contributors list:
  7. Attend Design Team IRC meeting? (Speak Up)
  8. Subscribe to the design tasks fedocal:
  1. Create a FAS Account (sign the FPCA) (Involvement)
  2. Create a GPG Key, and upload it to keyservers, one of which being (Crypto Panda)
  3. Write a self-introduction to the mailing list with some ideas on how you would like to contribute:
  4. Create your own user wiki page, or update with new info if one exists from another prject (Let me Introduce myself Badge)
  5. Attend the InterRelay Chat channel #fedora-meeting meetings on Mondays. (Speak Up Badge)
  6. Hang out on InterRelay Chat channel #fedora-docs
  7. Interact with other fedora contributors (how to use fasinfo, lookup others wiki user pages, asking for sponsorship)
  8. Make a contribution: Choose an item from this page:
  9. Post to mailing list, describing which contribution you want to make, asking for feedback
  10. Post to mailing list with links to your contribution
  1. Create a FAS Account (and sign the FPCA) (Involvement)
  2. Join the mailing list and introduce yourself:
  3. Choose a marketing task you’d like to help with, and post to the mailing list asking for feedback:
  4. Post to the mailing list with a link to your contribution.
  5. Request to join the marketing group in FAS

Hopefully that gives a better picture on specifics, and what some of the bootstrapping series particularly would involve. You see here how a skill tree rather than badge series makes more sense – you only need create one FAS account, participate in IRC once intially, and participate on a mailing list once initially to learn how those things work before you shoudl really move on. So with this system, you could learn those “skills” joining any team, and where you complete the series for any particular team are the higher-numbered badges in that team’s bootstrap series. (Hope that makes sense.)

Get involved in this business!

we need your help!
Help us build fun yet effective RPG-like components into a platform that can power the free software communities of the future! How do you start? Sadly, we do not have the badge series / skill tree feature done yet, so I can’t simply point you at that. But here’s what I can point you to:

  • hubs-devel Mailing List – our list is powered by HyperKitty, so you don’t even need to have mail delivered to your inbox to participate! Mostly our weekly meeting minutes are posted here. I try to post summaries so you don’t have to read the whole log.
  • The Fedora Hubs Repo – the code with instructions on how to build a development instance and our issue tracker which includes tickets discussed above and many more!
  • Fedora Hubs weekly check-in meeting – our weekly meeting is at 14:00 UTC on Tuesdays in #fedora-hubs. Come meet us!

What do you think?

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Hit me up in the comments (except, don’t literally hit me. Because mean comments make me cry.)


  1. Jean-Baptiste says:

    Looks great ! But what about translation ?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.