First documented computer "bug".

Hands up for QA: Moodle and Linus’s Law (part 1)

I have benefited from the efforts of many Open Source communities like Moodle, LibreOffice, PHP, GIMP, MySQL, WordPress, Linux, FireFox and much more. At the heart of many of these successful open source projects is a community that has come together around a core idea.

Therefore, personally contributing back meaningfully is very much long over due. Not just for reasons of assuaging guilt but also to satisfy an intense curiosity of how people achieve something so amazing. The only real way to find out is to join in!

Choice of Project

I am most familiar with the Moodle community. It’s spirit is strong, supportive and generous. You can read the Canvas To Moodle series how the awesome Moodle community helped.

Type of Contribution

There are many ways to contribute to a project:

  • Coding
  • Donation (eg Wikipedia)
  • Graphic Design
  • Help and support
  • Managing Community
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Project management
  • Quality Assurance (QA)
  • Subject Matter Expertise
  • Translations
  • User Experience

QA is how I have chosen to contribute. Why? QA is really good, simple entry into a project and it’s highly-valued (eg Linus’ Law which hypothesises “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow“). But it is more than that:

  • It a series of small tasks, that I can pick up at adhoc times.
  • I can learn about Moodle in depth (and the new features).
  • It’s satisfying doing a good job.
  • I can learn about how the Moodle Community works together, all online and achieve amazing things.
  • It’s a Good Thing(TM) to do.

The Process

Easy. Moodle.org’s Getting Involved page had it all. The list below is the full path of actions – but, really, start with the first couple of steps and I was guided all the way.

  1. Signed up & logged into Moodle.org
  2. Read Getting Involved page.
  3. Message the Moodle Community Manager with my Moodle username. The manager added me to the QA Tracker.
  4. Subscribed to the Testing and QA forum. (Tip: I simply replied on a thread & that stepped me through the subscribe process)
  5. Post to the Testing and QA forum that I’m joining in the fun.

Set up your QA Tracker:

  1. Go to the QA Tracker’s Manage Dashboards.
  2. Search for the Tracker (eg “Moodle 3.7 QA testing”)
  3. Select as favourite (select the star beside it)

Setting myself up:

  1. Multiple browsers: Chrome, Firefox & Safari/MS Edge
  2. Screengrab tool of choice (that draws an arrow) eg Jing, LightShot or Skitch (macos).
  3. A window of time. An hour or two. Regularly is better.
  4. Great music (eg MondoBongo Radio – well… it’s to my tastes…)
  5. A QA ticket from the QA Tracker Dashboard.

…and start QA.

Reflection:

The deeper I get into this project, the more humbling it is to realise the effort, the how and the significance of what this community has put together so that many other people can freely benefit.

Next Post: The experience of contributing to Moodle’s QA process.

Image credit: Grace Hopper’s log book, reporting of a computer “bug”. National Museum of American History.

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