Another great DebConf is over. Two weeks ago, I was lingering a little longer in Nicaragua, enjoying some tropical holidays, and having a few ToƱas with some fellow debconfers in Granada, and I exposed some rough ideas I've been incubating in the back of my head for some days. Since it had a positive initial reaction from the table (Gregor already volunteered to help!), I want to show it to a larger audience, in the hopes of getting some useful feedback, ideas, and maybe even some volunteers!

The trigger was Zack's Bits from the DPL talk, and Enrico's post on the same topic. We need to recognise more what people is doing in the project, much valuable work is done in the shadows, and it is in our interest to make the people doing that work feel acknowledged, feel they are part of the project.

The core of my idea is to create a web service that, for each person known to the project (let's say,, shows a simple page with information about the person, optionally a mugshot/hackergotchi, what are they working on, maybe some stats and links (the Debian portfolio stuff, for example), and —the core of this idea— badges of merit, and attribution for their contributions.

What I picture is having badges that say: «Closed X RC bugs», «Active translator for Esperanto», «#1 video team camera operator in DC12», «Created 100 bugs».. You get the idea.

In this ugly mock I created with my null designing skills, the idea might be a little more clear.

An important feature of the project is that it will be just a collector of information distributed in different places:

  • Personal information stored in special files in the person's alioth account (if any). If the person does not have an account or does not add any information, the page will only show the user name, and maybe the full name.
  • Automated links to other sources of information: PTS, Debian Portfolio, UDD Dashboard, etc.
  • A collection of badges and detailed statistics gathered from independent sources:
    • Automated data from UDD, PentaBarf, BTS.
    • Statistics from commits, changes to wikis, mailing lists, etc.
    • Lists created by specific teams to recognise their members, specially when these are not using automated tools that can generate reports.

This way, every team or project in Debian that wants to give recognition to its volunteers would easily do it, without needing to dive into the details of the code, or dealing with much bureaucracy. Just a signed mail with the pointer to the source of the data would be sufficient.

I think the more complex part of this project would be matching different identities to real persons, in a way similar to carnivore, so we can match between different email addresses, a name, a Debian or alioth user-id (if applicable), IRC nickname, or any other identification that might be used to distinguish a person inside Debian.

This might sound scary, but I don't plan on exposing or crawling any identities that are not currently publicly exposed, I just want to be able to see in a single page all the information associated both with my email address and with my gmail one.

I have some basic design ideas, but I don't want to make this post even longer than what it is now. Please get in touch if you have comments, ideas, or if you want to flame me.