Onboarding process

OFN is a community with contributors in different countries, who work as peers, without any hierarchical relationship. By default, the organization is "liquid", people can join and start contributing, some contribute a little bit for a very short time, some really commit and Open Food Network becomes their main daily occupation and livelihood.

Contributors create value for the OFN commons, whether it be by contributing with pieces of code, with communication initiative, or with fund raising. The logic we aim to achieve is to be able as a community to credit the contributors for the value they bring to the community. But before creating value, a new contributor most of the time needs support. The supporters create value for the community by helping out newcomers of course, and we are all happy to invest in the development of the community.

But as a relatively small group of people with limited capacity (24 hours per day, and other things to do in life :-), we need to be careful how much time we spend with people who are not able, after a certain period of time, to efficiently create value for the project. And we certainly can't afford to spend limited financial resources on those people.

So we have an on-boarding process for new contributors that enables every new potential contributor to explore the 'fit' and reach to a point where you can really create value. If you are interested in paid work with the Open Food Network there is a clear pathway to follow to become a "certified contributor" and start charging the community for your time (under certain conditions defined here). Feel free to give us any feedback.

1- New contributors

When a new contributor is interested by the project, the first step is to start contributing on a volunteer basis. The purpose of this is:

  • to enable the contributor to understand from inside what it is to work in OFN and see if that’s what they want

  • to enable them to get to a point where they can start to create real value for the project (which would justify being paid if they desire and if we can afford it)

  • to enable the rest of the team to gauge if skills fit to what the project needs, in term both of technical (coding abilities for instance) and social (communication abilities) skills.

So any new developer for instance needs to start picking some issues and committing some first PRs. For non-dev you can join our Slack and we'll be happy to discuss with you what you could do to help out depending on your skills and what you would like to do.

2- Certified regular contributors

After that, a contributor who wants to be paid in order to be able to really invest time on the project can request to be certified. When they are, they will be able to invoice contributions (under conditions defined here). To be certified, the contributor must meet four conditions:

  • Have the technical skills required for the tasks he aims to do In order to make sure that they deliver real value for the time paid for. The other certified contributors working on the same field can gauge that based on the first contributions of the certification applicant. If they think some important tech skills are missing, they can orient the contributor to some Github issues, or tasks, where they will be able to learn the missing crucial skills. We also highly encourage developers to do code review on PR they didn't commit themselves.

  • Have the communication skills required In order to make sure that no paid time is spent in inefficiencies due to lack of communication, and ensure a global consistency of the team and processes. That means he has to be part of the Slack conversations in the appropriate channels (#dev for instance for developers), reply to questions on Github in a reasonable set of time, give feedbacks and review to other contributors, ask questions as soon as something is not clear to get a consent from other contributors on how to solve an issue, participate to speccing sessions, etc.

  • Have a functional understanding of the platform, knowing the main use cases In order to make sure no time is lost due to lack of understanding and best approach is adopted.

  • Dedicate at least one full day per week on the project In order to make sure that the certified contributors are committed and engaged, and that if they take an issue/task they are going to deliver quickly and don’t block the processes. It doesn’t have to be every week the same day, and can be like 2 half days for instance.

3- Certified occasional contributors

For now, the project really needs committed and engaged contributors, but on some issues occasional contributions can also help to make things move faster. So in case this is needed, contributors who have both the tech and communication skills but can’t commit to a regular contribution basis can request to be certified as occasional contributors and be paid for their contributions. In that case, they will be offered by the global product team to take some specific issues and will be paid for those contributions. Any other contribution they make on their own initiative will be considered as volunteer contributions.

4- Process to request to be certified

When you think you are meeting the requirements to be certified, you just have to send a message to either @myriam or @kirsten (or other OFN facilitator) on Slack or via email and tell that would like to be certified and how much time you want to dedicate per week and be paid for, and at which rate (see table here).

They will then ask certified contributors who have worked with you if they think you have the profile that the community need. Also we will need to check our global budget if we have the money to pay for the time you expect to dedicate to the project (you can also ask that before starting your on-boarding process if that's something you want to know before starting to contribute to the project...)

If all is green, you will join the certified contributors crew :-)

5- Taking Responsibility for Your Own Reasonable Livelihood

We know you can get paid more somewhere else - we all could. We don't have the money to pay all the contributors that are making this OFN project happen. So we really ask yourself to think about what you need to be able to contribute as much as you would like to contribute. When those who can afford to be paid less choose to do so, we can support more awesome people to have a 'reasonable livelihood' working with us. On the contrary we also have contributors who don't ask to be paid although they need it, and put themselves sometimes in difficult situation or just stop working in OFN, which is a pity if they were really creating value! So just be conscious, mindful, but also realistic about your own situation.

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