ClsXlca2015 recognition

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Notes from clsXlca 2015 Recognition discussion


What do we mean by "Recognition"?

How would you like to be recognised?

Recognise contributions to a greater effort.

What does it look like?

(Individual Experiences)

    • Verbal
    • Specific, timely and explicit
    • Linked to org/communities goals

From whom?

    • Leaders giving thanks has certain gravitas
    • Peers giving thanks means something different
    • 'Members' giving thanks to 'Leaders' for doing leadership things is rare and just as highly valued.

Some people prefer their recognition to be private. Some prefer it to be public.

1:1 directed thanks is powerful; in person is often preferred within our discussion group; email, replies to public postings on mailing-lists/forums are all nice too.

How do we foster a culture of recognition?

Acknowledging code contributions and seeing them being used. Having patches merged in by that person who the community knows only merges the very best patches is a form of recognition, but it's not an accessible form to newbies who don't have that map yet.

Other people engaging with your code, either by linking to it, building on top of it, or extending it are forms of passive recognition that you're building something useful.

When a peer comes to you and says "that's a beautiful piece of work" (verbal, face-to-face worked. email didn't work for this person).

Recognising consistently good work is equally important as recognising someone raising their work to that level.

One piece of recognition is a project leader tweeting that someone made a strong contribution to a release and that was excellent.

If the recognition is written down it allows the recognised contributor to return to it at times when they are feeling like an imposter and get a boost.

Sometimes when you're the public face of a team or group, you will get the recognition for the work they do and you want to pass that on but don't know how.

One person liked it privately, really specific and didn't tend to return to the recognition.

Some times gifts work, not starbucks gift cards, but cultural artifacts (things that relate to the mascot), techie gifts and whiskey are all examples of gifts that work. Some people give team based swag (tshirts) which provides identity and recognition.

Relating it to personal or organisational roles makes it more powerful.

One way we recognise someone is by introducing them to other people and saying "This is $foo, they fixed that awful bug we had sitting in the tracker for weeks and they're awesome."

We recogonise people by attending their talks at cons and paying attention.

Some times recognition comes in the form of grant money for an org's goals or funding a specific development effort.

If you don't know how to recognise someone's work you can ask them what recognition they want. You may have to manage an unrealistic or impractical request/expectation here. [ASCII DRAGONS? ;)]

When you do your release blog/notes/files include everyone who contributed to the community in the thanks.

Code is tracked by SCMs. Translations are sometimes tracked by specific translation tools, sometimes by SCMs. Art assets in SCMs. Other contributions to the community tended to be tracked in peoples heads or in email archives (having project-by-project email aliases is useful here). There may or may not be a good technical solution to tracking these.

There are tools for tracking and reporting on metrics on who's replying to emails, irc requests and forums (

Some of the tools we use to track attribution don't work right for all use cases (author, reviewer/comitter, QA).

Metrics can't trump culture. There was talk about how gamifingy sometimes works but sometimes causes more problems. Fostering a 'culture of recognition'.

Discuss the ways in which you do your recognition.

Sometimes recognition is tied to the release cycle, some times it's periodic.

Recognition can lead to a feeling of belonging which can lead to engagement.

When people submit pull requests a bot replies on github with a 'we'll get back to you within X amount of time'. It was suggested that people who contribute to maintaining that SLA could be thanked.


An org bought a bunch of postcards and at the end of a con told their attendees to write thankyous to people who couldn't be at the con and the org then posted them out.

One team member bought a bunch of hats which their projects mascot wears and sent them out to the core dev team.

We give commit access as recognition of work and sometimes maintainership as recognition of awesome.

Release notes, Authors files, commit logs.

Merging code is recognition of the contribution.

In Openstack, regular code contributors get ATC status which gives them voting rights on tech ballots for a year (there are other ways to get ATC status too).

Some websites put badges next to the user profile or the user name when they post.

"Shout Out Wall" (post it notes on a wall at cons to give thanks).