Find-a-task 2.0

Nicholas Skaggs nicholas.skaggs at
Fri Jan 22 01:37:03 UTC 2016

As we wind down GCI, I've been thinking about what's next for Find-a-task,
how useful it has been, etc. I know Ian has done a bit of promotion, and
teams have placed tasks on the site. We've also done some analysis and work
to ensure the feature is more prominent and displayed on the site.
Nevertheless it suffers from a few things:

1) The tasks never expire. This means they will get old, rot and not be
useful. Alternatively, if you create 'timeless' tasks, they lack
specificity and depth and thus undermine the goal of the tool.

2) The tasks lack information. A well-written task isn't enough for someone
brand new. They likely will need a little nudging and personal help from
other community members. Even if the answer is in a wiki,  the new member
has to know such a thing exists, and be able to find it.

3) The tasks lack a point of contact. See above. No one 'owns' the task, so
there's no one to ask for help, no one to maintain the task, no one to
remove it once it's no longer viable, etc.

4) We have no feedback from users who try find and task. Has anyone been
successful in using it? What are there stories? How can we contact them?

So, I'd like to make an attempt at expanding find-a-task to tackle these
issues and model it a bit after GCI and other mentoring programs in the
past. I am loathe to recommend YET ANOTHER mentoring program, tool to
write, etc, however, I think we can think critically and decisively about
how we might be able to expand find-a-task to make it more useful and
palatable for all parties. And of course, as Ian has said in the past, it's
time we evaluated the tool for it's impact.

Specifically, I'd like to ensure every task in find-a-task has a sponsor.
This person would act as a contact for the task and a quasi-mentor as well.
In addition, I would like to time-limit tasks, so the tasks would expire
after a set amount of time. Tasks don't last forever, and it's hard to
think about tasks that would last for more than a cycle or two.

So what does an ideal task look like for me?

-- Title
-- Description
-- Sponsor / Mentor
-- Link for more info

This is mostly self-explanatory, but the idea is to insure you have a clear
and concise task, someone to contact about the task, a means to contact
them (email), and finally a link to more information about the task (such
as the team wiki, etc). Someone using find-a-task can immediately begin
working and have a point of contact for the task they are interested in.
Conversely, we can record there interest, and in the tasks they select, in
addition to alerting the mentor / sponsor when someone decides to take a
task. We also need to make sure tasks have expiration dates or otherwise
just automatically expire them after a set amount of time.

Finally, I'm curious about the usefulness of requiring so many clicks to
view a task and find a task. So in thinking about what this next version
might look like, we aren't limited to the current workflow or ideas.

In short; let's think about expanding find-a-task. Keep the idea of tasks,
but add sponsors to the tasks, and help facilitate communication between
the interested contributor and sponsor. By doing so I think we'll see more
success -- or at least understand how the tool is being used.

What do you think?

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