Trac could have a "Thank You" button or link
|Reported by:||pdfernhout||Owned by:|
Suggestion: There could be some easy way to say "thank you" for a contribution on Trac without making a separate comment.
Implementation: If there was a "Thank you" button alongside the original Trac ticket post and each reply, anyone logged into WordPress.org could click the "Thank You" button to acknowledge the contribution. "Thank you" totals could be recorded alongside the contribution, and maybe daily or weekly batch emails could be sent to issue contributors with all their thank yous (either just a simple count or perhaps the list of specific people too). People who click the gratitude button could perhaps also get a list somehow of things they have been grateful for. As an alternative, rather than a button with custom code related to it, a more general way to implement this might even be to just have a service at WordPress.org supporting links (e.g. gratitude.wordpress.org/thankyou?topic=meta.trac:1378#comment:3) to say thank you related to some topic specified in the originating link. There might need to be a JSON-based REST API to conveniently retrieve a bunch of results at once for, say, a Trac issue with a dozen comments rather than hit the gratitude server a dozen times. Since the server would handle many small requests, Node.js might be a good choice for its implementation. The amount of code to change in Trac would then be very small, limited to adding links to say thank you and probably doing a JSON REST request to get current thank you totals for an issue and populate the DOM with the results.
Justification: Extra "thank you" comments create more work for others to read them and generate extra emails and most people generally get too much email already as it is. But it is still an important part of human culture to say "thank you" when someone does something that benefits you or the community. So, recipients of these gifts of another person's time on Trac are caught in a dilemma. They can say a polite thank you and thus waste people's time who they are thankful to. Or, they can not say thank you out of respect for the other person's time but risk being seen as uncaring or impolite or the person feeling unappreciated. Here is a recent example of the dilemma as I faced it a couple hours ago but remain uncertain if I did the right thing. So, a thank you button could increase the sense of overall community well being by resolving this dilemma.
Science: This may sound silly at first maybe, but gratitude buttons or links provides a way for more people to be involved in WordPress development without generating messages that take up developer time. Even just saying thank you could be helpful. As in a recent Google study Matt Mullenweg posted on called HR Meets Science, gratitude is good for long-term career happiness. Gratitude is also generally good for health. Any web search on "gratitude and health" will turn up many matches -- here is an example one from Harvard Medical School. Historically, various cultures have made gratitude an important aspect of daily traditions, so that also suggests there is likely some important long-term individual and/or community value to gratitude.
Origin: I thought about this after contributing a plugin and the approval email said essentially, "Don't send a 'thank you' email as it just makes more work for volunteers." That just seemed like a sad situation that maybe someone could help improve somehow. Still, I read so much here and there, it would not surprise me if someone else said the same thing many years ago like on Slashdot and I read it and forgot about it -- maybe even more than once, given it often takes humans several exposures to a new idea to begin to notice it. :-) If so, thank you whoever suggested it first. :-)
Expansion: If a "thank you" button proves successful with WordPress Trac, this idea could be expanded to other areas of WordPress.org than Trac, perhaps by including links in such plugin emails or other emails that could be clicked on to say "thank you" without causing significantly more work for others you are trying to thank. With a link-based system, people could potentially click on links that could be anywhere at WordPress.org, not just Trac. Such an idea could even be expanded to WordPress.com Happiness emails or even eventually for all WordPress posts and comments (either in core or as a plugin). So, the links could even someday be anywhere and everywhere in the WordPress ecosystem -- maybe making the web a much better place to be? :-)
Prior art: There already exist like and dislike buttons in many systems (even WordPress addons). However, liking is not the same as gratitude. I don't know of any system with a "thank you" button. There might well be some such systems somewhere perhaps, and I would be curious to learn of them. In any case, this post serves as public disclosure of the idea to make it harder for others to patent.
Caveats: But if this is a new thing, I don't know what unexpected negative consequences there might be. Could people get sad they did not get "thank you" messages and the whole idea would backfire? John Holt wrote about overpraised kids who live in terror of lack of praise, and others like Alfie Kohn have written about being "punished by rewards". Although its gratitude the same as praise or rewards? Would many people in the community feel compelled to mindlessly click the "thank you" button a lot all over the place to be "supportive" instead of doing more productive things? An extra button might also clutter the Trac user interface as another possible negative, or people might click it by mistake. Again, I don't know how big a problem that would be in practice or if the negative would outweigh the positive. If this system was too successful, it might place too heavy a load on WordPress.org servers. There might be some way to exploit it somehow in some bad way that is not obvious yet. People might be annoyed by the aggregate thank you emails. Or people might feel it violates their privacy to have their name recored (although maybe that could be a preference in someone's WordPress.org profile). The whole thing might seem too impersonal. And so on...
One could also consider adding a complaining "Raspberry" button or something like that, but I tend to doubt that would have much benefit in this context (even as negative feedback can be important sometimes), and people really intent on being negative can probably figure out a way to complain in other ways (like leaving a comment). But I'm not sure about that. Raspberries might make the system seem more real and require people to make a choice -- but they just seem riskier in general. See for example the "positive principle" of "Appreciative Inquiry".
People might also try to link the "thank you" button to a donate button or something, and while obviously donations are important, they still seem a different thing that would happen at a different time that just regular gratitude.
I don't know for sure how this idea would work out. But maybe it could be tried as a temporary experiment for WordPress' Trac system, knowing it might not work out?
Thank you: Anyway, thank you to gratitude researchers, and thank you to Matt Mullenweg for posting the Google video mentioning gratitude. Thank you to Mandolin Orange for the music ("Waltz About Whiskey" and "Darling Girl") I listened to repeatedly from YouTube while composing to this. And thank you (but to whom?) for creating and maintaining Meta Trac to post issues like this one. :-) And thanks also to Trac maintainers for quickly fixing Python errors like the following and also another that showed up on Trac a couple hours ago for only a few minutes so I could eventually post this suggestion. :-)
File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/Genshi-0.6.1-py2.7.egg/genshi/template/markup.py", line 99, in _parse pos + (err.offset or 0)) TemplateSyntaxError: unexpected indent (, line 2) (/home/trac/resources/templates/site.html, line 7)