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Angle on code review

·2 mins

You’re a core contributor to a Free Software project. Maybe you get paid to do it, maybe you don’t. You get a patch from the outside: someone whose name you don’t recognize has contributed a patch.

You could ignore this patch, since you’ve got a lot of work to do already. Better, you could review the patch and give the newbie some much needed feedback.

Alternatively, you could champion the change by making sure it gets the treatment that one of your own patches would. Review it or get it reviewed, help the newbie make the changes the reviewer wants, make sure it’s managed using the best systems for managing patches in your project, keep track of its progress like you would one of your own patches, be eager to see it landed, pimp it in the changelog and the release announcement, get the newbie’s name in lights.

In practical terms: if you use a DVCS, get the patch out of whatever email attachment its in and put it in a branch; if you use a code review system like Launchpad, get it out of the bug tracker and into the code review tool; if you have a test suite, empower the newbie to write tests (normally that means knowing where to put them and how to run them).

It’s a matter of perspective: am I here to maintain the quality of the code base and prevent bugs from being introduced, or am I here to help others in my community. Am I just a reviewer or am I a champion?