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Red Hat's Open Source and Standards (OSAS) group, working with Bitergia, is capturing interesting data from some of the upstream projects with which Red Hat is deeply involved. On this page, you'll find various vital signs from projects like oVirt, RDO, ManageIQ, and Gluster.
It's useful for folks who are familiar with an open source project to be able to see, at a glance, the general trends for things like mailing list activity, IRC discussions, or how many bugs/issues are being opened and closed.
Why We Collect Statistics
Overall, you hope to see more developer activity in projects, an upward trend in mailing list discussions and participants, and a healthy number of issues being opened--and closed--in the project's bug tracker. Over time, numbers can fill in an important part of the story of a project.
It is, however, worth noting that numbers can be misleading. A lull in mailing list activity might be a sign that a project is slowing--or it might just be a sign that developers are heads-down working and being less chatty than usual. (Or it's vacation season.) Lots of chatter in IRC might be a sign that a project is busy, or they might be discussing the World Cup extensively. (Or both!)
What you don't see in the charts is the nature of discussions, whether discussions are productive or not, and how much actual work is being accomplished. For that, we have to be involved in the projects on a day-in, day-out basis.
Apples and Oranges
Another word of warning before perusing the stats -- comparing raw numbers for two dissimilar projects is not a valid way of measuring the health of two projects. For example, oVirt and RDO have different target audiences, and are at different stages of maturity. Comparing the growth in a "mature" community and a younger community is like comparing the vital signs and growth charts of a toddler and a young adult. If a toddler is showing rapid growth, that's to be expected. You don't really expect a 25-year-old to gain a few inches between checkups. (In fact, it'd be weird if they did--and possibly alarming!)
The only real way to judge a project's health is by measuring it against itself over time, and knowing about the project's long-term mission and goals.
More to Come
What you're seeing on the dashboard today isn't the final word on how we measure our project's success. We'll be continuing to look for ways to gather, and share, information about our projects. Have ideas? We'd love to hear from you!
About the author
Joe Brockmeier is the editorial director of the Red Hat Blog. He also acts as Vice President of Marketing & Publicity for the Apache Software Foundation.
Brockmeier joined Red Hat in 2013 as part of the Open Source and Standards (OSAS) group, now the Open Source Program Office (OSPO). Prior to Red Hat, Brockmeier worked for Citrix on the Apache OpenStack project, and was the first OpenSUSE community manager for Novell between 2008-2010.