This article was written by Sarina Canelake, Engineering & Community Manager at The Center For ReImagining Learning (tCRIL).
The Open edX Core Contributor Program grants community members expanded rights and ownership over various aspects of the Open edX Project, allowing them to actively participate in defining and deciding the direction of the platform. Members of the Core Contributor program earn this distinction by participating in Open edX community with distinction. They embody what we call the “3 Cs”: Commitment to the project, exemplary Conduct, and high Caliber contributions.
The program began in 2020, with an initial 9 community members being granted write access rights to various Open edX code repositories. Since then, the program has expanded to include nearly 40 core contributors, who not only commit code but oversee translations, manage projects, and more.
Recently we codified the program in OEP-54. “OEP” stands for Open edX (Enhancement) Proposal. An OEP is a document that details a specific decision being made by the Open edX community; the community agrees that they will follow the processes defined in the OEPs.
In OEP-54, we define various aspects of the Program, such as membership criteria and the nomination process for a new member. I’ll dive into some of these, with a focus on Core Contributors who commit code changes.
Types of Core Contributors
As we’ve expanded the number of Core Contributors who can commit code, we’ve also begun expanding the number of roles a Core Contributor can take on. Contributors are welcome to hold more than one role, as well! A full list of roles and responsibilities can be found at this link; a few roles I’ll highlight are:
- Translation Reviewer: These members are responsible for reviewing translation strings for accuracy and keeping languages up to date.
- Project Manager:Responsible for keeping projects and working groups on track; organizes work and makes sure everyone has what they need
- Forum Moderator: Ensures conversations on the discussion forums are civil, routed correctly, and stay on track
- UX/UI Designer: Assists feature-development team with review, or even creation, of designs and/or user interaction workflows.
For information on how to really dig into the community, see OEP-54’s “Where Do I Start?” section - there’s a lot of good resources there to get you started, as well as a few pointers on how you can reach out on the forums or to specific working groups. Joining a working group is a wonderful way to meet members of the community and get started on tasks identified by the group as having high value.
For those who code, I recommend joining the Build-Test-Release or Frontend working groups, as both groups tend to have a backlog of tasks they’d like people to pick up. The Deprecation working group is pretty fun (in my opinion!) - they focus on removing dead code from the system. They also tend to have a large backlog, but some tasks may be pretty complicated unless you know some Open edX architecture or are strong in Django/Python.
If you work at a company that’s developing Open edX features you’d like to someday see in the main codebase, you should reach out early in your development process to get pointers on the best way of architecting and implementing your change in order for it to have the greatest chance of being accepted. Reach out in the discussion forums in the Collaborative Proposals topic. Submitting your bug fixes, changes, and features upstream is a great path towards becoming a Core Contributor.
Becoming a Core Contributor
Community members who have demonstrated the 3 C’s, with a history of contributions to the Open edX project, may be nominated for inclusion in the program by an existing program member. For coders, the nomination would specify one or more repositories in the openedx GitHub organization for the nominee to get write access to. The process is designed to be straightforward and transparent: it takes place on the discussion forums, and other Core Contributors in the program weigh in on the nomination. Members are encouraged to give constructive feedback if they don’t feel a nominee is quite ready to join the program.
The Core Contributor program is administered by The Center for Re-Imagining Learning (tCRIL), the nonprofit organization that stewards the Open edX project. At any point on the road to becoming a core contributor, the program administrators may be reached in the #core-contributors Slack room in the Open edX Slack, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s been a joy and a privilege to be a part of the Open edX community and to have the chance to help administrate the Core Contributor program. I look forward to working with more and more of you as the program goes.
Engineering & Community Management, tCRIL
Sarina has 5+ years experience hacking on the Open edX platform and working with the Open Source community. She is dedicated to enabling open source contributors to the Open edX platform via extensibility and process improvements. She lives in Boston, MA with her 3 cat sons and has a lifelong love for all things Pokémon.