Core Contributor Role Definitions


Problem Statement

There are many contributors to the Open edX platform that participate in a variety of ways - writing code for the Open edX software, translating the project, people performing Quality Assurance tasks, members of the Marketing working group, documentation writers, and more. While previously the Core Contributor Program has focused on code contributors, we want to send the message that all contributors to the platform play a meaningful role and deserve the designation Core Contributor.

Core Contributors have a set of Rights and Responsibilities to the Open edX platform. In exchange for those Rights to contribute, we ask for some Responsibilities: this will include signing a Program Agreement and following the responsibilities of the roles that are laid out below.

Who can become a Core Contributor?

What specific roles required is detailed in the below Role Descriptions section. In general, however, people wishing to be Core Contributors need to show sustained, active performance in the role prior to being nominated as a NTC. We call this the “3 Cs”: Commitment, Conduct, Caliber. These people follow the Code of Conduct, are respectful of other community members, and are generally polite and welcoming. That means if you wish to be a Core Contributor, you should begin by joining the Open edX project and participate in a way that’s meaningful to you. Reach out to us if you don’t know how to begin!

How to become a Core Contributor?

Please familiarize yourself with the contents of OEP-54: Core Contributors, which discusses the program and how nominations occur. To become a core contributor, you will need to be nominated and provide evidence of how you’ve demonstrated the “3C’s” as defined above. That is, what have you already contributed to the Open edX community, and at what quality (Caliber), how have you interacted on pull requests, in writing (Discourse, wikis, Slack, etc), and/or in working groups (Conduct), and how long have you been an active member of the community/how do you intend to actively continue to contribute as a CC (Commitment)?

Core Contributor Role Descriptions

Roles are listed below; the person listed next to the role is the person most highly responsible for the definition.

We are asking that all Core Contributors, regardless of role, complete the following requirement:

Sign a Core Contributor Program Agreement, sent to you by Program administrators when you are invited to the program. This Agreement covers all NTC role types, so if you switch to a new role or add on responsibilities of a second, you will not need more paperwork (exception: the Committer role requires a bit more paperwork)

We are additionally asking that, for those Core Contributors contributing on behalf of an employer, all employers of Core Contributors sign the to demonstrate that they are willing to spend part of your time working on the Open edX project.

Project manager (leading Open edX projects and/or working groups) - Sarina

  • Responsibilities:

    • Effectively and efficiently enable collaboration on Open edX projects and working groups.

    • Perform quality control on the project throughout development to maintain the standards expected.

    • Keeping up with the development team on a regular cadence to ensure work is progressing

    • Planning

      • Create long- and short-term plans, including setting targets for milestones and adhering to deadlines.

      • Adjust schedules and targets on the project as needed.

    • Communications

      • Communicate updates and keep the project aligned with their goals to relevant stakeholders & the broader community

      • Serve as a point of contact for the project.

    • Collaboration

      • Facilitate group discussions that result in effective decision-making when multiple options are present.

      • Delegate tasks on the project to community members best positioned and interested to complete them.

      • Prefer asynchronous discussions to accommodate global timezones.

    • Keeping track of project or program specifics

      • For example, for funded projects, keep track of how much of the budget is being spent on a sprint (2-week) basis

  • Access:

    • GitHub - Write Access to GitHub Projects

    • Miro access for facilitating group conversations

    • Calendly account

    • Any additional access, as needed, to support particular projects and working groups that the PM is associated with.

  • tCRIL requirements:

    • General accessibility overview course (TBD)

Translation Reviewers - Eden

  • Responsibilities:

    • Translate Open edX strings into their spoken language(s)

    • Review/accept translations; serve as arbiters of correct translations

    • Attend Transifex Working Group meetings

    • Report Open edX-specific and uncontextualized strings to the Translation Working Group

    • Identify stellar translators in their language and encourage/support them

  • Access:

    • Access they already can get for free: translator access on Transifex, reviewing capabilities for their language(s)

  • tCRIL requirements:

    • Required review of a Transifex training document

    • General accessibility overview course (TBD)

QA - Sarina

  • Responsibilities:

    • Test the following areas and produce actionable issue reports, following up with coders needing clarification, retesting, etc.

      • Test new features prior to or immediately after release, including accessibility and internationalization aspects

      • Test out/exercise named releases

      • Test and review documentation of features, both new and existing features (maintenance work)

      • Test and review release notes.

  • Access:

    • Potentially read only access to Miro

    • Potentially access to shared Google docs

    • Access they already can get for free: GitHub read access, devstack, tCRIL training site account

  • tCRIL requirements:

    • Take the content authoring and/or developers versions of the a11y course to be able to better test a11y features (TBD)

Marketing WG members - Eden

  • Responsibilities:

    • Website enhancements to increase consumer site traffic (addition of pages, features, marketing material for external consumption)

    • Marketing and media outreach to increase the global awareness of the Open edX platform

    • Representing the Open edX project in public events, event planning and organizing (for both online and in person events)

    • Video Production assistance for marketing and other user materials

    • Content Creation: identifying blog content & authors, social media content mgmt., website content in form of videos, images, demos + documentation

  • Access:

    • Website (authoring roles)

    • Shared space to discuss ideas, posts, and key launch dates

  • tCRIL requirements:

    • Content authoring accessibility course (TBD)

Documentation - Sarina

  • Responsibilities:

    • Proficiency in professional English

    • Follows the documentation specifications laid out in OEP-19

    • Maintain existing documentation: reviewing/updating documentation as needed, including:

      • Onboarding materials

      • Courses

      • Documentation infrastructure

    • Produce new documentation, including:

      • Test out released features and document their use

      • Test out developer-facing tools (devstack, Tutor) and document their use

      • Test out installing/running named releases and document how to do it

      • (potentially) provide documentation for unreleased features (note: I currently believe we do not have the capacity to support documentation of unreleased features)

  • Access:

    • Access you already can get for free: devstack, learner account on tCRIL-hosted Open edX instance, local instance, or other community-based instance

    • Write access to Open edX documentation repositories

    • (potentially) access to shared Google docs & read-only access to Miro, if documenting unreleased features

  • Requirements

    • Take the content author’s track of accessibility course (TBD)

Product managers - Sarina

  • Responsibilities:

    • Regular, active participation in the Product Working Group, which may include:

      • Contributing to the discussions

      • Participating in review and prioritization exercises

      • Providing input on product direction

      • Leading collaborative efforts with stakeholders in other working groups, focus groups, other core contributors

    • Help define opportunity areas, which may include:

      • Performing market/user research

      • Gathering community input

      • Conducting competitive/landscape research

      • Gap analysis

      • Product Briefs, Concept Documentation

    • Lead, or assist leading, the development of an initiative, feature or effort, which may include:

      • Scoping exercises such as user stories, specs, requirements

      • Working with UX designers on wireframes

      • Managing user feedback lops

      • Performing acceptance testing

    • Project Management skills may sometimes be required

  • Tools/Access:

    • Project Trackers, such as GitHub Issues

    • Documenting systems such as wiki, google docs, Open edX documentation

    • Common product documentation types, such as product briefs, gap analysis, concept notes, user stories, feature specs

    • Common product tools, such as survey work, market feedback methods, user interviews, project boards

    • Able to work synchronously via Zoom, Meet, and asynchronously via Slack

  • Requirements:

    • Able to present a portfolio of product-related work

    • Per the definition of the Core Contributor program, a demonstration of the “3 C’s”:

      • Commitment: Has shown ongoing work in the Product space for the Open edX community

      • Conduct: In written and verbal communication, is welcoming to all, provides helpful feedback, and overall maintains a positive attitude

      • Caliber: The work produced is of a consistent high quality

*Note: As we are in the early stages of building a product organization for Open edX, it is expected that no one currently has very much community Product work to showcase in their portfolio or as part of their Commitment. Thus, we expect it may take some time before any member of the community is a candidate for the Product Core Contributor position.

UX/UI - Sarina

  • Responsibilities:

    • Create design work in standard tools for upcoming/in flight projects

    • Participates in Design Review meetings with 2U/edX UX team, as needed

    • Has a “champion” relationship with a UX manager, as needed

    • Unfortunately 2U/edX does not currently have opportunities for UX work that is not a part of established projects. This means you should bring your own community projects, or ask the 2U/edX team if there’s work available that you can pick up.

  • Access:

    • Miro

    • Figma

    • In some cases, JIRA/Confluence

  • 2U/edX requirements:

    • Participate in an interview with UX team

  • tCRIL requirements:

    • Take the content authoring and/or developers versions of the a11y course depending on focus (high level or writing some frontend) (TBD)

Open Source Pull Request Project Manager - Sarina (Natalia from 2U/edX)

  • Responsibilities:

    • Someone external coming in and managing OSPRs - does not need to be affiliated with an 2U/edX partner organization

      • Ideally someone technical enough to understand how complex a given changeset is

      • Can use CI tools

      • Able to communicate clearly and concisely to core committers & 2U/edX engineering about priority and relative effort

    • Follows newly incoming requests and triages them

      • Say Hi on the PR

      • Route to the proper team

    • Follows older PRs and bumps them

      • Ping the author if something’s been waiting on them for a long time

      • Ping the reviewers if something’s been waiting on them for a long time

    • We can train you on this job!

  • Access:

    • Already granted publicly: read access to GH, shared Slack channels

    • Ability to move ticket states on the open Jira OSPR board

  • tCRIL requirements:

    • No additional requirement

Forum moderators - Sarina

Forum moderators have the “moderator” capability in the Open edX forums. Additionally they may serve as Community TAs for one or more courses hosted on a tCRIL-hosted Open edX instance.

  • Responsibilities:

    • Re-Categorize new topics

    • Remove spam posts/ban spam users

    • Organize older topics as needed/maintain the platform

    • Respond to topics with high quality answers - pointers to documentation, referral to other users, etc

  • Access:

    • (for regular forum) Moderator role on

    • (for regular forum) Access to #discourse-moderators in Open edX Slack

    • (for Community TAs) Community TA permissions on one or more tCRIL-produced Open edX courses

  • tCRIL requirements

    • No additional requirements

Content Authors - Sarina

This role refers specifically to those community members with authoring permissions on a tCRIL-hosted Open edX instance.

Please note: The Course Author role is separate and distinct from the Course Administrator and Course Data Manager roles, and there is explicitly no guarantee that a Course Author will be approved to serve as an administrator or data manager on any given course, including a course that they authored.

  • Responsibilities

    • Author content for one or more tCRIL-produced courses

  • Access

    • Studio (authoring) access to one or more tCRIL-produced courses in the tCRIL Open edX instance

  • tCRIL requirements

    • Content authoring accessibility course (TBD)

Course Administrators

This role refers specifically to those community members with admin permissions for one or more courses on a tCRIL-hosted Open edX instance. Admin permissions are defined as permissions which allow you to view sensitive learner information such as learner email addresses, learner course grades, and problem submissions. A person with an in-course designation of “Community TA” does not fall under this umbrella but rather would fall under the “Forum moderators” CC distinction.

  • Responsibilities

    • Perform administrative tasks for such courses, including but not limited to responding to learner requests and managing course bulk email

  • Access

    • Course team member or course admin level permissions in the LMS

    • If needed/desired, Discussion moderator access (grants “Staff” badge in course forums)

  • tCRIL requirements

    • In addition to the normal Core Contributor program agreement, you will be asked to sign an addendum that will cover access to and management of learner data

    • Content authoring accessibility course (TBD)

Code contributors - Sarina

The right to commit code directly to the Open edX project is not granted lightly. Please see the following set of pages which dives deeper into the rights and responsibilities of an Open edX code contributor:

What are a Core Contributor’s access & responsibilities?

CCs may need access to…

  • Internal 2U/edX tools

    • Various Google docs/sheets (WG members/Project mgrs/PMs/UX)

    • Design Tools

      • Figma (PM/UX)

      • Miro (PM/UX/QA/Project mgr)

    • Committer access to documentation repos (docs)

    • Admin access to marketing sites/materials (marketing WG)

  • Tools that already have access but we should be sure are set up

    • Appropriate Jira/Confluence access - may involve some access to currently-private spaces

    • Shared Slack channels

Should we adopt a “Champion” model?

  • Could have a Champion (essentially point of contact & advocate) per role type - thinking

    • The Transifex Working Group with assistance from Eden will serve as champion for and oversight of Translators.

    • We could build out a QA function organically and have a QA Working Group oversee team efforts

    • Marketing WG with assistance from Eden serves as champion/oversight of Marketing CCs

    • UX Core Contributors will work alongside a 2U/edX “champion”

    • Project managers will likely not need champions, but rather points of contact at tCRIL and possibly within other community member orgs necessary to carry out their work

    • Product managers will work alongside a 2U/edX or tCRIL “champion”, likely the person they work most closely with for a given project or someone acting in a bit of a mentorship-like capacity

For certain, the 2U/edX UX & Product Management teams would like their CCs to have a designated point of contact/mentor within the building, in order to advance a consistent platform product vision (for example, adhering to style conventions like Paragon)