problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

Stas Malyshev
Hi!

> I think we are misusing the term "priority" here.  Priority for whom?

For whoever is responsible for the planning. Which in most cases is the
WMF team that is tagged, though if it's a project that belongs to
another team (or person), then it's this team's (or person's) planning.

> Setting something to "lowest" priority implies that users do not care about
> the item.

No, I don't think this is what it means. It should mean the planning
team does not have any immediate plans or resources to dedicate to it.
That's the consequence of using Phabricator as development tracking
tool. It's developer's priorities - which are supposed to mirror users'
ones, to a reasonable degree, but are not the same thing.

> I suggest we use dashboard columns for the planning activities, while
> keeping the tasks themselves fully under "requester's" control. E.g. let

I don't think it would help developers' work. If we need a mechanism to
track user's priorities in Phabricator, we should create one, but I
don't think breaking existing and used mechanism for tracking
development priorities is a good way to achieve that. Columns *are* used
for planning, but in a different way.

> the community decide what is more important, but use dashboards for team
> work planning.  This way, if a volunteer developer wants to contribute,
> they would look for the highest-demanded bugs that don't have active status
> in any teams.

I recognize that highlighting issues that volunteers should concentrate
on is a valid need. But I don't think reusing the same mechanism as
ongoing development tracking is using now is going to be good. It may
get very confusing. We should try to find other way to specify that.

--
Stas Malyshev
[hidden email]

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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

Andre Klapper-2
In reply to this post by Yuri Astrakhan
On Tue, 2018-10-02 at 20:43 +0100, Yuri Astrakhan wrote:
> I think we are misusing the term "priority" here.  Priority for whom?
> Setting something to "lowest" priority implies that users do not care about
> the item.

It does not, as "users" do not prioritize what developers work on.
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Phabricator/Project_management#Setting_task_priorities

> I suggest we use dashboard columns for the planning activities, while
> keeping the tasks themselves fully under "requester's" control. E.g. let
> the community decide what is more important

IMHO software development is not a popularity contest.

For completeness, some attempts to make communities influence
development priorities exist, such as
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/2018_Community_Wishlist_Survey

Furthermore, if you are aware of a functioning system to "let the
community decide" which also covers the needs of people we want to
attract as new future members of "the community" (we have about 900
Wikimedia sites with different needs), which takes self-selection bias
into consideration: I'd love to get more info. :)

Thanks,
andre
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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

Gergo Tisza
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber-4
On Tue, Oct 2, 2018 at 9:57 AM Brion Vibber <[hidden email]> wrote:

> *nods* I think the root problem is that the phabricator task system does
> double duty as both an *issue reporting system* for users and a *task
> tracker* for devs.
>

IMO that kind of double duty is normal for all software development project
management systems (and having to track bugs in two separate systems was in
fact rather painful in the dark ages when we had Bugzilla + some
team-specific external task management system). Rather, the problem is that
it's a task management system used by many different groups (including
volunteers) with overlapping scopes. Prioritization decisions are specific
to a team (or an organization at best) while Phabricator task status and
priority are global settings. This problem comes up in non-volunteer
contexts as well, when a task is relevant to two teams and a high priority
for one but low / zero for the other.

So IMO the sanest approach is for all teams to come up with ways to mark
prioritization that are local to their Phabricator projects (which
typically means using a team workboard for prioritization and having some
kind of "we don't intend to work on this" column).

Setting tasks to stalled when no one is planning to work on them would be a
reasonable practice if we decide to consistently use the stalled status
that way, but today it's used as "blocked" instead.
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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

MZMcBride-2
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber-4
Brion Vibber wrote:

>*nods* I think the root problem is that the phabricator task system does
>double duty as both an *issue reporting system* for users and a *task
>tracker* for devs.
>
>An issue reporting system should capture all actual problems and all
>actual suggestions, and is meant to provide visibility for the devs into
>the world of users. A task tracker should capture only things that are,
>or are planned to be, worked on and is a work planning tool for the devs.
>Secondarily if open, the task tracker provides visibility for the users
>into the world of devs.
>
>This mixup of concerns is endemic in open source software development,
>unfortunately, and leads to exactly the sorts of conflicts you mention.

I agree with there being multiple use-cases for Phabricator. I don't agree
that it's necessarily a problem. User feedback and bug reports often
directly lead to and can directly influence developer work. Mixing the two
groups is also a decent means of developing community and rapport between
developers and users in a shared space.

I also don't agree that a task tracker needs to only capture items to be
worked on. Filters, tags, and other user interface tweaks can address the
competing use-cases well enough, in my opinion, and as you note. The
number of tasks in the issue tracker is somewhat immaterial, just as the
English Wikipedia having over five million articles is immaterial, when
you're just reading one.

Another way to frame your root problem would be volunteer use versus
corporate use. In my experience, it's very common for valid bugs and
issues to be closed mercilessly in corporate issue trackers, as business
priorities shift and staff turns over. We may need to make it clearer and
more explicit that the Phabricator installation at
phabricator.wikimedia.org is for all members of the Wikimedia movement.

MZMcBride



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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

Pine W
I'm grateful for this largely civil and productive discussion. I'd like to
suggest that the multiple sub-topics being discussed here might be easier
to follow if the entire discussion is moved to a wiki talk page, such as on
MediaWiki.org. I am not attempting to halt discussion or to tell people to
stop writing to the mailing list; moving to a wiki talk page is just a
suggestion.

Thanks,

Pine
( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

Amir Sarabadani-2
My two cents:
I would personally make those type of tickets as "stalled", "stalled"
basically for me means blocked and these type of tasks are blocked on human
resources, some miracles might happen and we might end up having enough
resources to unblock it but until that day it's stalled IMO.

OTOH there are tickets that we don't have resources to work on it and we
never will, imagine a ticket with title "Rewrite mediawiki", it sounds good
as lots of part of it is old but we will never have such resource to do it.
IMO, we should call it declined on grounds of not having resources. Same
goes for "Every user should have a personal private wiki": We don't have
hardware resources for that and probably never will.

Best

On Wed, Oct 3, 2018 at 7:27 AM Pine W <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I'm grateful for this largely civil and productive discussion. I'd like to
> suggest that the multiple sub-topics being discussed here might be easier
> to follow if the entire discussion is moved to a wiki talk page, such as on
> MediaWiki.org. I am not attempting to halt discussion or to tell people to
> stop writing to the mailing list; moving to a wiki talk page is just a
> suggestion.
>
> Thanks,
>
> Pine
> ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

Derk-Jan Hartman
Another side effect of closing a ticket with Declined, is that it doesn't
show up in search (because it's closed and closed tickets are omitted by
default). But if the problem or desire for the feature still exists, it is
likely to be reported again by users via a new ticket and other people then
have to go duplicate hunting. So that creates more duplicates to weed
through.

And when I work on something, I often take a look at boards and see if
there is anything else in the same area that might need work, or I use the
tickets to get a feeling of the direction that people want us to go. When
declined is mixed with "we can't work on this right now", that makes it a
lot harder to do that as well.

So i think Stalled is better. The problem with that can be that such
tickets show up in workboards, which can create a lot of load in the
browser if there are a lot of tickets. If we would tag all of such tickets
with something like 'need-volunteer', a team could customise their work
board filter to exclude all tickets with that tag. Or simply exclude the
entire status, but then you cannot effectively use it within the team
either. We do have to make that need-volunteer tag somewhat better defined
in the bug lifecycle and the tag's description in that case. That tag
started out more as an "opportunities for volunteers". Alternative is a new
"no-resourcing" tag. or something.

DJ

On Wed, Oct 3, 2018 at 1:03 PM Amir Sarabadani <[hidden email]> wrote:

> My two cents:
> I would personally make those type of tickets as "stalled", "stalled"
> basically for me means blocked and these type of tasks are blocked on human
> resources, some miracles might happen and we might end up having enough
> resources to unblock it but until that day it's stalled IMO.
>
> OTOH there are tickets that we don't have resources to work on it and we
> never will, imagine a ticket with title "Rewrite mediawiki", it sounds good
> as lots of part of it is old but we will never have such resource to do it.
> IMO, we should call it declined on grounds of not having resources. Same
> goes for "Every user should have a personal private wiki": We don't have
> hardware resources for that and probably never will.
>
> Best
>
> On Wed, Oct 3, 2018 at 7:27 AM Pine W <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I'm grateful for this largely civil and productive discussion. I'd like
> to
> > suggest that the multiple sub-topics being discussed here might be easier
> > to follow if the entire discussion is moved to a wiki talk page, such as
> on
> > MediaWiki.org. I am not attempting to halt discussion or to tell people
> to
> > stop writing to the mailing list; moving to a wiki talk page is just a
> > suggestion.
> >
> > Thanks,
> >
> > Pine
> > ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikitech-l mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

mathieu lovato stumpf guntz
In reply to this post by Michael Holloway
I'm not sure it is a so focused issue. A recent unrelated ticket I made was closed  with the "no resource to waste on that" by a product owner.

A first thing is that I want to work on this issue, and would find that useful to use phabricator to track that task even if no specific resource would be dedicated to it beyond my own attention. On that regard, I red again the documentation and concluded that it was fine to reopen it in regard to what it is stated on ticket status life cycles. So far so good, I would say.

On the other hand, I discovered in the process that for some other people in the community phabricator is perceived as an hostile place, out of what they feel as part of "their" community. Actually, to the point that starting a proposal on phabricator might be  interpreted as an attempt to enforce ideas without and against the consent of the community, rather than a call to give feedback and make evolve ideas together, and thus despite an immediate communication on the ticket creation.

That's what make me think that the issue discussed here is far deeper and have a great psychological effect on the cohesion of the Wikimedia community.

Cheers



Le 2 octobre 2018 19:24:23 GMT+02:00, Michael Holloway <[hidden email]> a écrit :

>I think I can provide some context here, because this really seems to
>be
>about something specific.  The Reading Infrastructure team recently
>inherited maintenance responsibility for the Wikimedia maps stack,
>resourced on a very limited basis.  Along with that, we inherited a
>backlog
>of many hundreds of tasks, many of which have seen no activity for
>years.
>For the past couple of months, a few of us have spent an hour each week
>trying to work through the backlog trying to triage all of these.  In
>the
>course of these grooming meetings, we have closed more than a few tasks
>based on a combination of not having the resources to work on them, and
>it
>not seeming likely that anyone else will, either; the theory here is
>that
>it can better reflect reality to openly decline a task than to let it
>languish in a backlog indefinitely.
>
>If this contravenes the relevant norms, I apologize.  If you were upset
>by
>the closing of what you believe to be a valid maps ticket, please feel
>free
>to reopen.  Thanks.
>
>On Tue, Oct 2, 2018 at 10:06 PM Brian Wolff <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Declined = WONTFIX (e.g. if some talented developer wrote a patch,
>and the
>> patch was perfect, you would still -2 it because the functionality is
>not
>> wanted/stupid/etc)
>>
>> Invalid = not a real bug. That should include things like spam, stuff
>where
>> the reporter is mistaken ( can't reproduce or if someone say reports
>a
>> sharepoint bug)
>>
>> I think the defining difference is its possible to write a patch for
>a
>> declined bug, even though it would be rejected, where an invalid bug
>by
>> definition is unfixable.
>>
>> Just my 2 cents, others may have different definitions.
>>
>> --
>> Brian
>>
>> p.s. ive never liked the "need volunteer" term for lowest priority -
>I have
>> always felt it had offensive implications as if volunteer time isnt
>as
>> important so they get the low priority bugs.
>>
>> On Tuesday, October 2, 2018, Joe Matazzoni <[hidden email]>
>> wrote:
>> > I agree with Amir’s understanding. "Declined” is basically for
>ideas
>> whose proper timing is never.  Valid ideas that we just aren’t going
>to
>> work on any time soon should go in a backlog or freezer or some such,
>where
>> they can await until some future project or other development makes
>them
>> relevant (at least theoretically).
>> >
>> > All of which does raise a slightly different question: I am much
>less
>> clear on what the exact difference is between “Invalid” and
>“Declined.”
>> Thoughts?
>> >
>> > Best,
>> > Joe
>> > _____________________
>> >
>> > Joe Matazzoni
>> > Product Manager, Collaboration
>> > Wikimedia Foundation, San Francisco
>> > mobile 202.744.7910
>> > [hidden email]
>> >
>> > "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share
>in
>> the sum of all knowledge."
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >> On Oct 2, 2018, at 9:31 AM, Amir E. Aharoni <
>> [hidden email]>
>> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> Hi,
>> >>
>> >> I sometimes see WMF developers and product managers marking tasks
>as
>> >> "Declined" with comments such as these:
>> >> * "No resources for it in (team name)"
>> >> * "We won't have the resources to work on this anytime soon."
>> >> * "I do not plan to work on this any time soon."
>> >>
>> >> Can we perhaps agree that the "Declined" status shouldn't be used
>like
>> this?
>> >>
>> >> "Declined" should be valid when:
>> >> * The component is no longer maintained (this is often done as
>> >> mass-declining).
>> >> * A product manager, a developer, or any other sensible
>stakeholder
>> thinks
>> >> that doing the task as proposed is a bad idea. There are also
>variants
>> of
>> >> this:
>> >> * The person who filed the tasks misunderstood what the software
>> component
>> >> is supposed to do and had wrong expectations.
>> >> * The person who filed the tasks identified a real problem, but
>another
>> >> task proposes a better solution.
>> >>
>> >> It's quite possible that some people will disagree with the
>decision to
>> >> mark a particular task as "Declined", but the reasons above are
>> legitimate
>> >> explanations.
>> >>
>> >> However, if the task suggests a valid idea, but the reason for
>declining
>> is
>> >> that a team or a person doesn't plan to work on it because of lack
>of
>> >> resources or different near-term priorities, it's quite
>problematic to
>> mark
>> >> it as Declined.
>> >>
>> >> It's possible to reopen tasks, of course, but nevertheless
>"Declined"
>> gives
>> >> a somewhat permanent feeling, and may cause good ideas to get
>lost.
>> >>
>> >> So can we perhaps decide that such tasks should just remain Open?
>Maybe
>> >> with a Lowest priority, maybe in something like a "Freezer" or
>"Long
>> term"
>> >> or "Volunteer needed" column on a project workboard, but
>nevertheless
>> Open?
>> >>
>> >> --
>> >> Amir Elisha Aharoni · אָמִיר אֱלִישָׁע אַהֲרוֹנִי
>> >> http://aharoni.wordpress.com
>> >> ‪“We're living in pieces,
>> >> I want to live in peace.” – T. Moore‬
>> >> _______________________________________________
>> >> Wikitech-l mailing list
>> >> [hidden email]
>> >> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
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>> > [hidden email]
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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

Jon Robson
In reply to this post by Derk-Jan Hartman
Just one note about "needs-volunteer".
If the staff maintaining an extension don't have time to work on a problem,
they may also not have time to review any changes relating to it.

If you do use this tag, I see this as an indication you are willing to take
time to review any contributions relating to that task and do so until the
task is seen to completion.

There is nothing I hate more than seeing volunteers submit patches to help
the project and not getting any code review. Our volunteers are important.


On Wed, 3 Oct 2018 at 05:15 Derk-Jan Hartman <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> Another side effect of closing a ticket with Declined, is that it doesn't
> show up in search (because it's closed and closed tickets are omitted by
> default). But if the problem or desire for the feature still exists, it is
> likely to be reported again by users via a new ticket and other people then
> have to go duplicate hunting. So that creates more duplicates to weed
> through.
>
> And when I work on something, I often take a look at boards and see if
> there is anything else in the same area that might need work, or I use the
> tickets to get a feeling of the direction that people want us to go. When
> declined is mixed with "we can't work on this right now", that makes it a
> lot harder to do that as well.
>
> So i think Stalled is better. The problem with that can be that such
> tickets show up in workboards, which can create a lot of load in the
> browser if there are a lot of tickets. If we would tag all of such tickets
> with something like 'need-volunteer', a team could customise their work
> board filter to exclude all tickets with that tag. Or simply exclude the
> entire status, but then you cannot effectively use it within the team
> either. We do have to make that need-volunteer tag somewhat better defined
> in the bug lifecycle and the tag's description in that case. That tag
> started out more as an "opportunities for volunteers". Alternative is a new
> "no-resourcing" tag. or something.
>
> DJ
>
> On Wed, Oct 3, 2018 at 1:03 PM Amir Sarabadani <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> > My two cents:
> > I would personally make those type of tickets as "stalled", "stalled"
> > basically for me means blocked and these type of tasks are blocked on
> human
> > resources, some miracles might happen and we might end up having enough
> > resources to unblock it but until that day it's stalled IMO.
> >
> > OTOH there are tickets that we don't have resources to work on it and we
> > never will, imagine a ticket with title "Rewrite mediawiki", it sounds
> good
> > as lots of part of it is old but we will never have such resource to do
> it.
> > IMO, we should call it declined on grounds of not having resources. Same
> > goes for "Every user should have a personal private wiki": We don't have
> > hardware resources for that and probably never will.
> >
> > Best
> >
> > On Wed, Oct 3, 2018 at 7:27 AM Pine W <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > > I'm grateful for this largely civil and productive discussion. I'd like
> > to
> > > suggest that the multiple sub-topics being discussed here might be
> easier
> > > to follow if the entire discussion is moved to a wiki talk page, such
> as
> > on
> > > MediaWiki.org. I am not attempting to halt discussion or to tell people
> > to
> > > stop writing to the mailing list; moving to a wiki talk page is just a
> > > suggestion.
> > >
> > > Thanks,
> > >
> > > Pine
> > > ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > Wikitech-l mailing list
> > > [hidden email]
> > > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikitech-l mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

Strainu
In reply to this post by mathieu lovato stumpf guntz
În mie., 3 oct. 2018 la 19:08, Mathieu Lovato Stumpf Guntz
<[hidden email]> a scris:
> On the other hand, I discovered in the process that for some other people in the community phabricator is perceived as an hostile place, out of what they feel as part of "their" community. Actually, to the point that starting a proposal on phabricator might be  interpreted as an attempt to enforce ideas without and against the consent of the community, rather than a call to give feedback and make evolve ideas together, and thus despite an immediate communication on the ticket creation.

That's a totally orthogonal problem that existed from the bugzilla
days. Some people consider bug tracking as a "dev" activity that they
don't know anything about, others have difficulties communicating in
English and finally some just consider the WMF evil and want nothing
to do with it. Using Phabricator to track bugs and features in a
certain way (or at all) doesn't seem to have a lot to do with this
(unless there is some proof to the contrary that I'm not aware of).

The problem Amir brought up mainly affects people that already use Phabricator.

Strainu

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Re: problematic use of "Declined" in Phabricator

Pine W
In reply to this post by mathieu lovato stumpf guntz
Regarding 'A recent unrelated ticket I made was closed  with the "no
resource to waste on that" by a product owner.': I think that civil
messages explaining why a ticket won't be addressed would be helpful, as
would civil messages explaining why tasks are being moved to a "freezer",
instead of moves, closures, etc. with no explanation or with somewhat
insulting comments. Messages don't need to be elaborate, and can be
copypasted, so long as they explain in civil terms what's happening and
why. Keep in mind that some people who submit tickets may not natively
communicate in English, and may have little familiarity with the Wikimedia
use of Phabricator.

Regarding where to discuss proposals that address issues that have been
raised in this thread, as I said earlier, I suggest a wiki talk page.

Pine
( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
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