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Being an Inclusive Project (and how GitHub saved my day)

I ha­ve pos­ted over 50 pos­ts he­re about Niko­la and most of them con­tain so­me­thing like "Niko­la, my sta­tic blo­g/­si­te ge­ne­ra­to­r". We­ll, tha­t's not the ca­se an­y­mo­re. From now on I wi­ll say "a sta­tic blo­g/­si­te ge­ne­ra­to­r". Wh­y? Le­t's see.

For star­ter­s, it's no lon­ger true that I wro­te it. Al­thou­gh I am sti­ll pus­hing mo­re co­de that an­yo­ne, the­re are 54 other con­tri­bu­tor­s. That num­ber is as­to­nis­hin­g. Wh­y? Be­cau­se I es­ti­ma­te the­re are around 200 Niko­la user­s. That means the ra­tio of con­tri­bu­tors to users is in­cre­di­bly hi­gh.

That is pro­ba­bly ex­plai­ned be­cau­se the way you build a si­te using Niko­la is ve­ry pro­gra­m­mer orien­te­d. You could des­cri­be a sta­tic si­te ge­ne­ra­tor as a sort of "si­te com­pi­le­r" and not be far off the ma­rk. Many of the be­ne­fi­ts, like you can host your pa­ge sour­ces in gi­thu­b! are com­ple­te­ly mis­te­rious to no­n-­pro­gra­m­mer­s. So, I ex­pec­ted that num­ber to be hi­gh, bu­t, ha­ving a 25% use­r=>­de­ve­lo­per con­ver­sion ra­te? Tha­t's bi­za­rre.

So, I sus­pect I did so­me things we­ll wi­th this pro­ject 1, and wanted to thi­nk them out lou­d, and try to fur­ther the­m.

One thing I thi­nk I did we­ll was that it's an in­clu­si­ve pro­jec­t. If you pro­po­se so­me­thing you are ge­tting heard and I am gi­ving the pro­po­sal a fair shake. I may re­ject it, but not out of han­d, but ins­tead after so­me thou­gh­t. And if I am un­su­re, it's ac­cep­te­d. I would ra­ther get so­me­thing I am not fond of than dri­ve out a con­tri­bu­tor 2 be­cau­se I may chan­ge my min­d, but a con­tri­bu­tor tha­t's go­ne is not co­ming ba­ck.

Sa­me thing about granting co­m­mit ri­gh­ts: want the­m? You get them wi­th the first suc­ce­ss­ful PR by just askin­g.

To­day the­re was ano­ther step on this di­rec­tio­n: I am not the so­le ad­min an­y­mo­re. No lon­ger is http­s://­gi­thu­b.­co­m/­ral­si­na/­niko­la the ca­no­ni­cal re­po, it's now http­s://­gi­thu­b.­co­m/­ge­tniko­la/­niko­la. The web­si­te? Not http://­niko­la.­ral­si­na.­me but http://­ge­tniko­la.­com, paid for 5 year­s. Added two ad­mins to eve­r­y­thing (the awe­so­me da­mia­na­vi­la and Kw­pol­ska). Ga­ve up so­le con­trol of a loooong list of things 3 and now I can get run over by a bus and things should not bi­tro­t.

It pro­tec­ts tho­se 54 other con­tri­bu­tors and few hun­dred users from my ever lo­sing heart or in­te­res­t, whi­ch is a real risk, and should be alle­viate­d.

I thi­nk the most im­por­tant bit about con­ver­ting users in­to con­tri­bu­tors thou­gh, is that you just need to be friend­l­y. And Niko­la is lar­ge­ly a friend­ly pro­jec­t. And tha­t's ma­de it a lot of fun for the past year or so.

I on­ce read that if you re­fu­s­ed to use co­de wri­tten by ass­ho­les you could not boot any OS. We­ll, that may be true, but that does­n't mean being an ass­ho­le is OK. This is a sma­ll pro­ject that does a sma­ll thin­g. But at least I feel con­fi­dent it's not wri­tten by ass­ho­le­s. And tha­t's a vic­to­ry in itsel­f.

OTOH the­re are so­me ma­jor de­ffi­cien­cies sti­ll. Di­ver­si­ty is good in so­me areas (geo­gra­phi­ca­ll­y, for ins­tan­ce) but AFAIK the per­cen­ta­ge of wo­men con­tri­bu­ting to the co­de­ba­se is 0% and I ha­ve no idea wh­y, and I would lo­ve to im­pro­ve tha­t.

So, lo­ts of wo­rk do­ne, lo­ts mo­re to do. Tha­t's a good po­si­tion to be in, I thi­nk.


Al­ter­na­ti­ve ex­pla­na­tio­n: I did so­me things so bad­ly I ha­ve dri­ven out 99% of the user ba­se.


Wi­thin rea­so­n.


Gi­thu­b's che­ck­lis­ts on Is­sues are great


Wi­thin rea­so­n.




Not rea­ll­y.

Martín Gaitán / 2013-09-11 23:34:

Github Alsina, ja!

btw, congrats for the move.

Roberto Alsina / 2013-09-12 00:44:

Bueno, capaz que de segundo nombre.

damianavila82 / 2013-09-11 23:56:

Roberto, thanks for all your work doing this transition... and thanks for ALL your work with the project.

You have built a very welcoming environment (not only to contribute), and as a consequence, you had got a lot of people interested and willing to make Nikola even better!

As a personal note... thanks for you confidence, I promise I will make my best if a bus hits you ;-) (I will also do my best whereas you are alive, he he)


Roberto Alsina / 2013-09-12 00:44:

I'll try to look both ways before crossing busy streets :-)

ddevine / 2013-09-12 03:23:

You've done a great job on inclusion. I can tell that every one of my (questionable) feature requests gets a proper response.

I think some of the reason the contributor ratio is so high is because Nikola needs tweaking (or fixing) when you want too do anything but a basic blog - don't take this negatively because it actually means that people think Nikola is worth their time to contribute to. There are alternatives out there that they could use, but they don't want those!

As for female contributors, perhaps Nikola is just not big enough to have encountered female hackers yet. I haven't seen anything that should discourage them, only the opposite.

Congratulations on the transition!

Roberto Alsina / 2013-09-12 04:18:

Indeed making Nikola need less tweaking is a good priority to have.

I think it is better than it used to be and I have a few ideas like, pre-filled profiles in "nikola init" so you can start, say, a not-blog easily without tweaking configs first. Don't worry about feature requests, if I just implemented the things I needed I would have stopped in version 2 ;-)

humitos / 2013-09-12 14:46:

Awesome! I really like Nikola, I feel comfortable with it and that's why I migrated mi blog from to Nikola. I tried once some time ago and the "import_wordpress" didn't exists. So, I asked you at #pyar and you say: "You can do it, if you want" and I say: "Sorry, I'm lazy and I don't want to start writing that now". Some days after that, you said: "Hey, man, I wrote something that you could try and let me know". I tried it, and it had some problems but you accepted my .xml with all of my posts, improved the script and tried again...

About a year after that, I said: "I'm going to take a look at Nikola again and I'll see how much it has improved" and... Man! It's awesome! I found just two stupid bugs (at least for me) that I could fix with a quick look at the "import_wordpress" code. Now, I'm a happy man blogging as much as I can again...

I had a similar experience with rst2pdf about a year ago also, I reported some bugs you worked on them for me (?)... and FOR FREE! :D . I really like the way that you start projects and listen to the people that want some change in your milestones. I really like your code and... I really like the way that you laught with your child inmediately after he start crying... That marked my life forever...

Hugs from here,

Roberto Alsina / 2013-09-12 14:53:

To be totally honest, @okin wrote most of the wordpress importer after I did that proof of concept :-)

Thanks for the kind words, too.

Juan Rodríguez Monti / 2013-09-12 16:33:

Awesome!. Congrats for this move, Roberto!. Nikola is amazing.

Roberto Alsina / 2013-09-12 18:32:


Kay Hayen / 2013-09-17 13:28:

As user #7 my record here: I knew your name already, you had the right reputation to be somebody to want to work with. And then ReST all the way, rst2pdf is an awesome work of yours. Nikola was about using ReST for even more stuff, about integrating documentation and website in almost perfect way.

And your design for Nikola was pretty sound, or mostly, and where it was not, you aggressively took on the challenges imposed. And you have a lot of passion for it obviously.

Right now, I totally have a backlog to even look at the amount of new stuff that interests me, and that got added to Nikola. It's amazing. I definitely will submit a presentation about it.

To me Nikola is Python at its best.

Roberto Alsina / 2013-09-18 21:29:

Thanks for the kind words. Without you nagging me everytime I broke it, Nikola would not be what it is today ;-)

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