[DRAFT] Initiatives Guide

[META: This is a draft of a guide for new community members to learn about what an initiative is, and how to create one. This document will be added to and expanded on the more I read and metabolize topics related to Initiatives. Open to suggestions and corrections in the comments. Any italicized, all caps notes are meta commentary and invite conversation in the comments. Currently version 1.1]


When communities come together, especially when those communities are decentralized, it can be difficult to orient on what that community values and how to create goals which let us make progress on those values we all hold.

SourceCred uses a tool called an Initiative to help communicate what goals are important, the plan of action for achieving them, and makes space for the community to review.

What is an initiative?

An Initiative is a type of Discourse Topic which uses a specific template to help it’s author communicate a new goal. By filling out this template a Contributor can flesh out the details about, reasons for, and plan of action they have for completing the goal. This creates clarity for the community as a whole.

Contributors who decide to be responsible for an Initiative are considered that Initiative’s Champion. A Champion is someone who takes ownership of an Initiative, keeping track of it’s progress and moving the goal forward. You can Champion the Initiatives you create, hope someone else will become it’s Champion, or Co-Champion it with other invested Contributors.

Once the Initiative has been created, it can go into one of three sections of the Initiatives Category: Up For Adoption, In Progress, or Completed.

  • “Up For Adoption” Initiatives are a well defined goal looking for a Champion to take ownership of it.
  • “In Progress” Initiatives have a Champion, and are actively being worked on by that Champion.
  • “Completed” Initiatives have had their goals met.

How do I create an Initiative?

To begin creating a new Initiative, log into Discourse and go to the Initiatives Category. Create a new Topic within this category and in the editing field you will see a template designed to help you communicate your new Initiative.

The sections of the template are as follows:

  • Topic Title: Give your Initiative a clear and concise title that communicates your goal.
  • Description: Give an easy to read overview of your goal, describing the context of the Initiative. What makes this goal meaningful to the community? What are the general features or impacts it will have?
  • Status: What is the current status of this Initiative? Is it:
    • Championed - This Initiative has a Champion
    • Completed - This Initiative has met it’s end goal/deliverables.
    • Abandoned - This Initiative has been forsaken and is no longer being worked on.
  • Champion: If someone is taking responsibility for this Initiative, here is where you add their name. If the Initiative is being Co-Championed, add all the Contributor names. If no one has taken on the Initiative, leave this field blank.
  • Review: Is this Initiative ready to be reviewed by the community?
    • Not Ready - The Initiative is still being fleshed out, or requires some action before it’s ready for community input.
    • Please Review - An invitation to the community to provide ideas, opinions, and constructive critique.
    • Accepted - The community has had a chance to speak and approves of moving forward with this Initiative.
    • Shelfed - The community has decided that this Initiative is not a good use of time, does not align with community values, and/or is not practical/achievable as it stands. Maybe this means it needs to be changed and reviewed again, maybe this means we should let it be Abandoned.
  • Benefits: What are the positive outcomes if this Initiative is completed? What results would make the community find this Initiative valuable and worth prioritizing?
  • Implementation Plan: What are the concrete steps that need to be taken to accomplish this Initiative?
  • Deliverables: What concretely should we expect to see when this Initiative is complete? How will we know and what will it look like when this Initiative’s goals have been achieved?
  • Dependencies: A list of links to other Initiatives that this project directly depends on. This is most relevant when the Initiative you’re creating is large or complex, and depends on other smaller/nested Initiatives/tasks being achieved before it can be considered completed. [I SUGGEST RENAMING THIS TO “NESTED INITIATIVES” FOR CLARITY]
  • References: Think of references like citations. List links to other Topics in the Discourse which provide useful context even if they might not be considered a Nested Initiative. This flows Cred to those Topics which influenced your thinking and decisions.
  • Contributions: Here is where you can keep track of actions taken (or link to Topics created) by any Contributor (Champion or not) who helps move the Initiative forward. This is a great place to list things that don’t get caught by the Cred Flow yet; like emotional labor, sending emails, having meetings, etc.

All of these sections are automatically populated in a new Initiative Topic along with their descriptions to make the formula easy to follow.


When should I create an Initiative?

[More coming]

How do Initiatives impact CRED?

[NEED MORE INFO - I know there’s a topic somewhere on discourse that explains some of this, but I can’t for the life of me find it again.]


We should add best practices around when to start an Initiative or how to contribute to current Initiatives.

A few general notes:

  • First check the list of current Initiatives. If the thing you want to do/create can be a contribution to a current Initiative, then add it to that Initiative’s contributions. If there aren’t any Initiatives that represent the thing you want to do, then create a new one.
  • If you’re contributing to an Initiative, as the Champion (DRIs for that Initiative) how to contribute.
1 Like

First off, thank you for writing this draft! I’m excited to see this guide come together.

I’m inclined to orient the introduction around the role Initiatives play within SourceCred itself. Something like:

SourceCred’s goal is to fairly recognize and reward contributors. It does this by assigning ‘cred’ to every contribution that goes into a project. However, sometimes there is a disconnect between the contributions–which may be small and specific–and the project’s goals and values, which are much higher level. For example, a small change to the code might fix a minor but that most people don’t notice–or it might be a key piece of the community’s highest priority. So that SourceCred can assign cred properly, it needs to be able to represent contributions at the level of goals and larger contributions, not just individual pieces of work.

SourceCred does this via initiatives. An initiative is a kind of “meta-contribution”, which exists at the level of shared goals, and not individual pieces of work.

An example of an initiative might be, “clean up the living room”. Many individual contributions–like sweeping the floor, or vaccuuming the rug, or doing the dishes–could be included in that initiative. And the initiative itself may be a part of a larger initiative, like “throw a party in the house”.

Right now, we track initiatives via Discourse Topics. So you can create an initiative by creating such a topic. It’s not technically accurate to say that the initiative is the topic (although this may be too confusing and not worth focusing on).

We should link to the documentation on champions here (maybe for now to @Beanow’s original post).

It might help to include an example initiative in the guide. Orienting around an example would probably be more engaging to the reader than a list of fields.

I think “nested initiatives” could be misleading as it implies that if A is a nested initiative of B, then A will not also be a nested initiative of C too (how can one initiative be in two “nests”). However, if A is a dependency of B, then A can also be a dependency of C (and in practice this happens a lot).

As per past discussion, we may want to reconsider whether we want to track dependencies on initiatives at all… perhaps simpler would be better.

Might be good to discuss this on a call to go into more depth.