Lack of clarity in GitHub labels

There’s a little ambiguity about what help wanted and first timers welcome mean, particularly when combined.

Should first timers welcome mean “Only for anyone doing contributions for first time.” or “Recommended for anyone doing contributions for first time.”? i.e. should we close PRs from existing contributors?

Should an issue ever be labelled with both? If so, should that mean “this should be easy enough for inexperienced contributors, but anyone can submit PRs”?

I think we could create a new label - first timers only.

I have often seen existing contributors create PRs for issues labeled first timers welcome within 12-18 hours itself. Since these issues tend to be picked up quickly, it would be good to restrict contributions to first-timers only, to encourage more people to contribute to open source.

If such an issue doesn’t get a Pull Request within a reasonable time (sounds unlikely), then we could change the labels to Help Wanted and first timers welcome, thereby opening up the issue to existing contributors.

Having a separate first timers only label would then allow us to combine help wanted and first timers welcome labels for this scenario as well -

Just my two cents.

I like what @Manish-Giri suggests with changing the label to first-timers only. However, I think we should adopt the approach of never labelling an issue with both first-timers only and help wanted.

In my mind, if an issue is help wanted, then it is also first-timers welcome. I cannot see why we would exclude a PR aimed at a help wanted issue, if the author is a first-time contributor.

I think @Manish-Giri is suggesting adding a new label first-timers only, rather than replacing the current one. That said, I agree that it should not be used with help wanted - that would definitely confuse things.

So, to go through the logic:

If mods think an issue is easy to solve and not particularly urgent, first-timers only is appropriate. If it’s a bit more urgent it should get first-timers welcome and help wanted. Finally, if it’s probably too challenging for someone starting out, we can stick to help wanted.

Agreed, I don’t think we should ever be discouraging potential first-time contributors. The first-time labels should be there to help them find something manageable to do.

@Twaha-Rahman @nhcarrigan I started this issue to follow up our discussion on discord. How does the extra label sound?

Good morning~!

I am fond of the currently proposed logic. I do think @Ryuno-Ki’s suggestion in the Discord is essential - adding some clarification to the contributing guidelines regarding the labelling system would be good. I think something like this would fit:

Issue Labels:
first-timers only - This label indicates an issue that should be a relatively easy fix and will not require significant knowledge of our codebase. If you have contributed to our work before, we ask that you allow new contributors the opportunity to submit a pull request for this. Feel free to keep an eye on it, however, as we may remove this label if no one proposes a fix in a timely manner. If you ARE a new contributor, feel free to jump right in! There is no need to ask for permission before submitting a fix for this issue.
first-timers welcome - Issues with this label are believed to be a relatively easy fix, and do not require a significant knowledge of our code base. ANYONE is welcome to submit a pull request to fix these issues, but new contributors may find them to be a good place to start working with our code!
help wanted - These issues may require a significant understanding of our codebase, but ANYONE is welcome to submit a pull request that fixes these issues. New contributors are welcome to submit a fix, but may find that these issues require more in-depth knowledge, such as how to test the code locally.
If an issue does not have any of these labels, please make a comment on the issue asking for permission to work on it before submitting any pull requests. Additionally, if another contributor has already expressed a desire to work on an issue, it is polite to allow them an appropriate amount of time to do so before jumping in.

@ojeytonwilliams - you mentioned not wanting to make the contributing guidelines too lengthy as the labels should be self explanatory, so maybe instead of adding to the docs we could just add the clarity in the hover text?

It’s always a tricky balance between clarity and length. I’m wary of adding in-depth explanations in the contributing docs because they’re already rather long and the longer they get, the more likely people are to miss important bits.

So, my current thinking is just to add a label, add a quick explanation in the contributing docs and, as you suggested, put a little explanation in the hover text.

I’m not going to rush off and do this, though. This thread’s been great and I want to give people a little more time to add suggestions if they have them.

Its intended to be the first one.:

  1. ‘Help wanted’ is intended to be meant as “an issue is ready for contribution”.
  2. ‘First timer welcome’ should actually mean “issue is reserved” for first timers. I think we should change it to ‘first timer only’, it got edited sometime to the current one, I can’t remember why.

Issues can have both implying, this is ready for contributions and reserved for first timers, but I see that it could be creating some confusion, so we could use only one at a given time. I believe that would still convey the need.

Okay, let’s keep it simple:

Change the label to “first timers only”. I think the current text
“Open for anyone doing contributions for first time. You do not need permission to work on these.”
is fine as is, if we use the new label.

“help wanted” should probably read
“Open for all. You do not need permission to work on these.”
i.e. drop the Codebase familiarity required bit and use similar wording to “first timers only”

How does that sound?

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I agree. That sounds reasonable to me. Do you mind taking care of this?

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Not at all, it’s done.

I think I would like to see the status: fix in progress more used

there are various issues that have already a PR to fix them, but are waiting for the code freeze to end, or stuff like that, sometimes even alluring people in asking if they can work on that, not knowing it’s already fixed. Example, #38123

I like this idea. It would help alleviate the discouragement a potential contributor might feel when they see a “help wanted” label only to find someone else is already working on it.

I like this too. I’ll try to remember to do so in future.