Help Wanted – A Proposal

Posted in: Technical Track

It really doesn’t take me a lot to go meta on stuff…

Today I got poked about a long lasting bug on WWW::Ohloh::API, which prompted me to release a new interim version to prevent its userbase from rioting before I can finish the port of the whole thing to Moose — a port that has been in the wing for the last, oh, 4 years. “Four years?”, you say. “Alas, yup,” I meekly reply. You know the regular excuses: so many distributions, so little time, no itch factor since I don’t really use it, etc. I thought it could be time to push this particular distribution in the arms of somebody who could take better care of it than me. (But only after I’m done with Moosifying it, though. That is too fun to pass on.)

This situation reminded me of the recurrent CPAN problem of module adoption. The last time the issue resurfaced, which was a few months ago, the discussion was centered on the related problem of authors dropping off the map. In the end, a proposal of a voluntary pledge of “if I kick the bucket, peeps can take over my CPAN modules” was crafted and implemented at least by Dist::Zilla::Plugin::Covenant.

But there is still a need for something to help authors who either want to pass the torch of maintainership to somebody else, or just would like some help with their module. We need something simple, and yet  easily visible by the CPAN community. So I began to think (hey, I saw that shiver!) and said to myself “what if…”

What if we added a new field in the META.json — let’s call it x_help_wanted — that would contain all the different types of help a module maintainer could require? Positions like maintainer, co-maintainer, coder, translator, documentation, and tester. We could even have a Dist::Zilla plugin to populate that field for us.

And what if MetaCPAN would display that information on the release page? With MetaCPAN being so nifty, one would think that only a wee bit of code — something like this — would suddenly make the desired information pop out of nowhere:

Of course, one should probably flesh out the info on the release page with descriptions of what each of those positions entail and who/how to contact the module head honchos. But these are all details that can be piled on top of the prototype.

So, yeah, what if? What if we had those pieces available? Do you think it would help us?

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