Sugar Labs/Project Guidelines

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Posted to the IAEP mailing list on 28 August 2009, http://www.mail-archive.com/iaep@lists.sugarlabs.org/msg06466.html

Introduction

Sugar Labs has a large number of smart and passionate participants. These participants are often looking for new and innovative ways to advance Sugar Labs and the Sugar ecosystem. Ideas arise for new projects, initiatives, and extensions to the Learning Platform. It is these ideas that eventually result in our biggest and best programs, but they must endure some vetting before they are truly ready to be introduced to the public and branded as Sugar Labs projects.

To establish guidelines to aid participants in working out the details of their ideas and possibly developing new programs, Sugar Labs must establish rules and processes for project formation. This document represents the thoughts and deliberations that have gone into forming those rules and processes.

Ideas

A new initiative may take one of many forms, but to have a reasonable chance of success, it must start with a solid, well-defined idea. A well-defined idea gives rise to discussion on its merits. This raw idea can come from any participant or team of participants, and may undergo very little, if any, review. In this early stage, the only substance is likely to be a thought on a mailing list or web page.

If the initial proponents seek to have the initiative supported by others within Sugar Labs, they should present their idea to other contributors experienced in the affected areas, for review and feedback. They should also prepare and maintain a mission statement, vision statement, and implementation roadmap. This documentation should be updated to reflect the outcome of any discussions or feedback.

A general mission statement will cover the following:

  • Who the new project would serve and who will lead the project
  • What the goals and scope of the new project would be
  • When the project can be considered a success
  • Where the project will lead and where it will fit into Sugar Labs
  • Why the idea warrants the creation of a new project within Sugar Labs
  • How the project will benefit Sugar Labs and the Sugar ecosystem

Even though the mission statement is somewhat general, it should avoid using catchphrases or buzzwords in place of meaningful, simple language. If your mission statement cannot be boiled down into uncomplicated terms, or if it does not logically lead to actionable goals and objectives, it and its precedent idea likely need to be better defined. The goals and objectives that follow from the mission statement constitute a plan of action.

A general vision statement will include:

  • A description of how the world will improve upon successful implementation and adoption of the project

A vision statement is intentionally broad. It is meant to inspire.

An implementation Roadmap will include:

  • A list of immediate requirements to establish the project
  • A short-term strategy for the formation and governing of the project
  • A mid-term outlook of how the project will be made a permanent fixture of Sugar Labs
  • A long-term set of goals to make the project a true success

If you can define the mission and plan of action, you may be ready to form a Special Interest Group, or SIG.

Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

An SIG is the incubatory stage of life for a new project. At this point, you should have a solid plan, and the appropriate members of the community should be ready to support the new project and see to its success.

If your idea involves the support of existing groups within Sugar Labs, it is a good idea to seek input from any supporting bodies before you form a SIG.

It is not necessary, however, for contributors to receive the approval of any existing body to form a SIG. Some ideas may not even involve support from Sugar Labs. The Sugar Labs Oversight Board retains the right, however, to provide oversight over any SIG if necessary, to appoint a body to that end, or to move a SIG under the umbrella of an existing body. Such actions should rarely be necessary, though, given a SIG with a well-defined mission and objectives.

During this stage, contributors should establish a governing model and set up the necessary resources for the long-term success of the initiative. Setup tasks might include the creation of a website section, a mailing list, an IRC channel, and a source repository if applicable. During this phase a new project must demonstrate its potential for success. It can begin gathering contributors and an audience, but must still prove its long-term viability. In some senses, this is a probationary period for the SIG. The SIG moves beyond this stage by becoming a success, and failure to live up to its goals may result in termination. During this stage, the SIG must submit regular progress reports to the Sugar Labs Oversight Board .

The SIG must be able to provide regular progress reports with the following:

  • The number of active contributors
  • The state of the project compared to its goals
  • Documentation of how the project is working for the community
  • The current method of governing the project
  • A schedule and plan to achieve remaining goals and milestones

It is possible for SIGs to exist indefinitely in this manner if the contributors feel there is no need for official project status. Indeed, many SIGs are sufficiently narrow in focus that they do not require project status to fulfill their missions.

Sugar Labs Projects

A SIG earns official project status through successful accomplishment of objectives that warrant more prominence in Sugar Labs. If contributors request it, the parent project or the Sugar Labs Oversight Board will evaluate the SIG's progress reports and make a determination of readiness for this stage. At this point, it may be branded with the Sugar Labs name and promoted to the full status of a Sugar Labs project. It can join the ranks of the most valuable initiatives currently leading Sugar Labs.

To reach this stage, the initiative must demonstrate long-term viability. This means it must have a full governing strategy, possibly including an election or selection scheme. It must also have a demonstrated following, up-to-date and well-maintained materials, full communication strategies and a documented process of operations. Projects at this stage are expected to provide regular progress reports and to maintain an active state.

Projects on the wiki

See Category:Project for wiki pages bearing the [[Category:Project]] tag predating this proposal.