Open Collective
Open Collective
Applying some "nudge theory" to the Webform issue queue
Published on April 29, 2019 by Jacob Rockowitz

Learning how to manage communication and support within the Webform issue queue is something that makes me very proud. I also want to keep improving everyone’s experience within the Webform issue queue. A while back, I started welcoming new contributors and saying thank you. Frequently, I have to direct general support questions to Drupal Answers. Occasionally, I have had to remind people to be mindful of their tone. I am continually seeking ways to improve my process and communication within the Webform module's issue queue.

At Drupalcon Seattle, I took part in a discussion about strategies for effective and inclusive group communication where I was introduced to the "nudge theory".

A nudge makes it more likely that an individual will make a particular choice, or behave in a particular way, by altering the environment so that automatic cognitive processes are triggered to favour the desired outcome.

Besides nudging people towards the desired outcome, which is a healthy and sustainable Open Source collaboration, clearly defining these nudges will also make it easier for everyone to improve the overall support and community within the Webform module's issue queue.

Types of nudges

There are three types of nudges within most issue queues - they can be categorized as:

  • Welcome and thank you
  • Values and principles
  • Guidance and directions

Welcome and thank you

Saying a proper welcome and thank you helps set the overall tone of our collaboration. The act of saying "welcome" to a new contributor establishes that we are an inclusive community where everyone is welcome to join. Saying 'Hi' (aka nudges) to new users also reminds other members of the community to be understanding and supportive of someone entering a new community.

Following up someone's contribution with a thank you comment or even handshake (aka nudges), acknowledges and values their hard work and encourages them to keep contributing.

Value and principles

Digital space provides anonymity with a lot of freedom of expression. We want everyone to feel comfortable with their own identity and respectful of their unique contribution to Open Source. Ultimately we want everyone to play nicely together, which is why online communities establish a code of conduct. The Drupal community has a code of conduct which embodies the community’s values and principles. Codes of conduct can be perceived more as rules meant to prevent conflicts, while values and principles lean more towards ideals and beliefs. Reminding someone of Drupal's values and principles can feel like a more subtle nudge versus citing misconduct. In the Drupal community, our code of conduct and values and principles are so closely intertwined there is a lot of overlap; values and principles sound less finger-pointy and disciplinary. Values and principles foster engagement and provide growth, support, and direction.

Guidance and directions

Providing guidance with good directions make everyone's experience better. Honestly, no one knows exactly what they are doing in Open Source and Drupal because we are building software through one giant collaboration with a community that is in a constant state of flux. When entering a new community, it’s nice to have some direction and guidance on how to interact and contribute to the community. Within the Drupal community, people should understand how they should interact with the code, issue queue, each other, and where they can find help.

Updating the Webform module's issue submission guidelines

Providing clear information and guidelines helps to improve our collaboration. It is important to nudge and remind ourselves that everyone has good intentions when creating a ticket in an open source project's issue queue. Below are the updated submission guidelines for the Webform module. I know these guidelines are verbose and require some scrolling. At the same time, they also provide us with little 'hello' snippets of useful nudges that can be cut-and-pasted within issue queue comments, which can help everyone get the most out of our collaboration and community.

Below is the updated submission guidelines, which everyone will now see when creating a new ticket in Webform module's issue queue.

Welcome and thank you

Welcome to the Webform module's issue queue, everyone is invited to participate.

Everyone is a volunteer. Please have patience and respect - we are all here to help one another and share our ideas, code, and passion.

Thank you for helping make the Webform module and our community a little better and stronger.

Values and principles

As a member of the Drupal community, in the Webform issue queue, we want to uphold the behaviors expected in the below values and principles.

  1. Impact gives purpose
  2. Build software that everyone can use
  3. Foster a learning environment
  4. Decisions should be collaborative
  5. Everyone has something to contribute
  6. Choose to lead
  7. Embrace change
  8. Every person is welcome; every behavior is not
  9. Be constructively honest, and relentlessly optimistic
  10. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  11. Be sure to have fun

Guidance and directions

Even though all documentation and issues are in English, not everyone in the Drupal community is a native English speaker. Please take your time writing and reading each other's issues, comments, and communications. If something is confusing, please ask or provide clarification.

Please read the issue queue handbook before posting. Follow the priority and status guidelines. Only set the priority to "critical" if you are reporting a bug that causes data loss.

To prevent duplicate tickets, please search the issue queue before creating any new issues. If you find an open related issue, feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment. Generally, old and resolved issues should remain closed and linked to from a newer related ticket.

Please use the issue template to provide a detailed and focused summary for a single issue. This will make it easier for everyone to help you solve or fix your problem or challenge.

The Webform module's issue queue is for bugs, feature requests, and planning. Please post general support questions to Drupal Answers. You can also ask questions or help answer questions on the #webform channel on Drupal Slack.

Check out the Webform module's articles, video tutorials, and cookbook to find additional help and documentation.

Please review attached patches by applying them to your local development or by using

Patches and ideas are always welcome. Please provide automated test coverage for bug fixes and improvements, which can cause regressions or unexpected issues.

If you enjoy and value Drupal and the Webform module, get involved, consider joining the Drupal Association, and backing the Webform module's Open Collective.