Fedora-Council/tickets ticket #421: How do we track and manage efforts and tasks that span longer timelines?

@jflory7 filed Fedora-Council/tickets ticket #421. Discuss here and record votes and decisions in the ticket.

Ticket text:


I haven’t had a chance to review yesterday’s meeting, but I’m not convinced that an issue tracker isn’t the best place to track longer-term work. (As an aside, I do agree that things that are more “we should discuss ideas” shouldn’t be tickets. For example, this conversation is not yet ticket-ready, IMO)

GitLab does present a possibility, since we can create effort-specific repos for things that have multiple steps along the way. But if something is essentially one step, just a very long step, then the current model works.

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This kind of overlaps with the other conversation — mixing long-work tickets with things we need the Council to act or vote on. If we can present them in a way that easily separates things, I’m okay with tickets.

In addition to “we should discuss” tickets, I also don’t want a lot of “this would be a good idea” or “someone should (or even just could) do this, but no one has time / is committed / is interested” tickets. One can already throw a metaphorical rock in a random direction and hit several wonderful things we could and should do.

I’m wondering more about the option of having a single “tickets” repository, but relying on a kanban project board to organize the things that are urgent, need discussion or votes, or are in the backlog.

I saw @bcotton’s ticket comment about deferring, so I want to have one last chance at making this into a workable proposal.

I understand this and not taking on too much at once. But I feel like there is value in documenting these ideas somewhere, or at least keeping them somewhere that they won’t be a bother.

In the DEI and Mindshare groups on GitLab, we are piloting an “initiatives” repository which tracks longer-term tasks that go beyond one release cycle. Not every ticket will be worked on, but they are there as a reference for future ideas, or to see recurring themes of bigger work. I think tickets like this could be useful for planning things like hackfests.

Maybe I am just totally and awfully wrong here. But the push to close every ticket or else doesn’t feel fully productive to me either. But neither does having a huge queue of tickets that nobody is quite sure about either.

I feel pretty strongly that tickets are the wrong tool for this job. That doesn’t mean things shouldn’t be written down somewhere, or documented.

Tickets best for tracking actionable things through a workflow. Planning a specific hackfest — sure! Or creating a specific framework for hackfest planning.

But stuff like Throwing out an idea — a "Gaming with Fedora Linux" mini-event - Fedora Discussion — I feel like tickets are not well-suited, and end up being kind of depressing as they accumulate.

Why not just start threads here? Then, when something is ready to be an initiative, there will be plenty of room for tasks and tickets to track those.

In fact, let me give a concrete proposal — the idea tag can be used in this category. Instead of filing tickets (including for Mindshare and DEI!), post them here and use that tag.

(idea is configured so that posts with that can be marked with solutions, so one could consider any unsolved idea posts to be “open”.)

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Perhaps tickets aren’t right then, but neither is a forum. Forums are ephmeral in nature, and things get buried and forgotten fast. I have a hard time considering anything in a forum as “documentation” in the sense it is being used here.

I actually really like the idea of using the forum for this idea dumping ground / initiative tracker.

First, it would be more informal than a tracker. Many ideas will start as posts to test the waters. We want to see what some people think and receive feedback before we move on to the next step. It’s also ok for a discussion to get no responses, peter out, and die. The community’s interest in the idea can be the organic force that moves these initiatives forward, but there is no expectation to close out the idea and turn it into something actionable. Furthermore, you have your backburner for ideas that you don’t necessarily want to reject but don’t want to see getting dusty on a growing issue tracker.

Second, it keeps these initiatives in front of the community. The interconnected web of issue trackers is just part of what it’s like to contribute to Fedora, at least in my experience. Every team has an issue tracker which can be on Pagure, GitLab, or I think even GitHub. Sometimes I can find them directly on that platform. Sometimes I will need someone to point me in the right direction, which means listing it in documentation (its own maze) or asking for a link (which is more friction).

If we add another strategic initiative tracker into the fray, it will still get the job done of giving you a space to track and work on tasks. However, it will not be as accessible unless people already know that the tracker exists and where to find it. It’s possible that some ideas will start in that strategic tracker and then end up in the forum anyway for feedback.

By setting up this tracker in the forum, it’s already in front of one of the most viewed spaces in our community. People will catch the new ideas as they come in and can give their thoughts accordingly. If we want to maintain a certain level of community involvement, reducing the amount of steps it takes to find and discuss is valuable, and I don’t think it gets easier than posting it on here.

Third, there are ways to filter to specific ideas that we could use. I literally checked this just now because having a reasonable way to search for the ideas is important for actually managing them. To @jflory7’s point, forums can be ephemeral and bury threads. If there isn’t a good way to come back to ideas, then the forum wouldn’t be much of a tracker. However, Discourse’s search function seems pretty robust.

Obviously if we have an idea tag then you can just search for it and be done. But you can also search for multiple tags together. For example, I looked up topics under the marketing AND mindshare tags. I could do the same for idea and any other tag so that we can add more context to our big list of ideas than just having a good description in the name. Contributors could use this themselves to manage their own ideas in their teams and be able to come back to them.

Then there are other filters that could be helpful. Pick posts that are before or after certain dates. Search topics that have a certain number of replies or views. Sort ideas based on topics with the most likes that are unsolved. Seems pretty workable to me.

I have a few other notes that could be worth thinking about. One decent example of using the forum for initiatives is the community’s awareness of our interest in improving accessibility on Fedora. That’s something that was brought up in discussions here for the five year plan and gained traction. Fedora Badges is arguably another, but I’m not sure how much of that was being tracked somewhere else. Ideas have started with discussions here and grown into actionable projects.

There’s also the one-two punch for managing strategic initiatives: first the place to organize ideas and next the cadence for reviewing those ideas. Arguably it doesn’t matter where you right down these initiatives as long as they are reflected upon regularly - maybe once a quarter? It doesn’t have to be intensive either. Because these initiatives either start or will remain vague, the important thing is to remember that they exist and then keep them in the back of your mind until a concrete step emerges. At least that’s how I treat some goals in my life.

Lastly, I do wonder if this is an idea worth keeping for the community anyway. Regardless of where strategic initiatives end up living, would we like to use the forum for long-term, nebulous ideas in this way? I guess folks can do this anyway if they wanted to. Maybe then if both the community and the Council start presenting ideas in the forum, it could be worth it to have idea be free for anyone to use while a new #initiative is created specifically for the Council. That could make searching for Council business easier.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk, lol.

Okay. It does not feel intuitive to me right away if I wear my old forum moderator hat of long ago. But Discourse is different from other forums I have used and I am willing to give this approach a go then. Y’all have me convinced. :slightly_smiling_face:

In that case, the outcome of this ticket could be additional documentation to the Council docs, perhaps to the Council ticket queue page. I could take the action item for this, but first I want to make sure that this is the right approach?


We could do that (it is possible to create tags restricted to specific groups). Alternately, we could create a Council Initiatives subcategory in :category_workflows: Team Workflows and stash things there.

But for now, I think let’s just let anyone use idea and see where that goes… we can always add formality and restrictions later if it becomes necessary.

Sounds good to me!

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So, now do I create a ticket to keep track of this action? :wink: :joy: (Joking!)