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## GitLab Core Team & GitLab Inc. Contribution Process
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---

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**Table of Contents**  *generated with [DocToc](https://github.com/thlorenz/doctoc)*

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- [Purpose of describing the contributing process](#purpose-of-describing-the-contributing-process)
- [Common actions](#common-actions)
  - [Merge request coaching](#merge-request-coaching)
- [Assigning issues](#assigning-issues)
- [Be kind](#be-kind)
- [Feature freeze on the 7th for the release on the 22nd](#feature-freeze-on-the-7th-for-the-release-on-the-22nd)
  - [Between the 1st and the 7th](#between-the-1st-and-the-7th)
  - [On the 7th](#on-the-7th)
  - [After the 7th](#after-the-7th)
- [Release retrospective and kickoff](#release-retrospective-and-kickoff)
  - [Retrospective](#retrospective)
  - [Kickoff](#kickoff)
- [Copy & paste responses](#copy--paste-responses)
  - [Improperly formatted issue](#improperly-formatted-issue)
  - [Issue report for old version](#issue-report-for-old-version)
  - [Support requests and configuration questions](#support-requests-and-configuration-questions)
  - [Code format](#code-format)
  - [Issue fixed in newer version](#issue-fixed-in-newer-version)
  - [Improperly formatted merge request](#improperly-formatted-merge-request)
  - [Inactivity close of an issue](#inactivity-close-of-an-issue)
  - [Inactivity close of a merge request](#inactivity-close-of-a-merge-request)
  - [Accepting merge requests](#accepting-merge-requests)
  - [Only accepting merge requests with green tests](#only-accepting-merge-requests-with-green-tests)
  - [Closing down the issue tracker on GitHub](#closing-down-the-issue-tracker-on-github)
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---
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## Purpose of describing the contributing process

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Below we describe the contributing process to GitLab for two reasons:

1. Contributors know what to expect from maintainers (possible responses, friendly
  treatment, etc.)
1. Maintainers know what to expect from contributors (use the latest version,
  ensure that the issue is addressed, friendly treatment, etc.).
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- [GitLab Inc engineers should refer to the engineering workflow document](https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/engineering/workflow/)

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## Common actions
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### Merge request coaching
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Several people from the [GitLab team][team] are helping community members to get
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their contributions accepted by meeting our [Definition of done][done].
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What you can expect from them is described at https://about.gitlab.com/jobs/merge-request-coach/.

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## Assigning issues

If an issue is complex and needs the attention of a specific person, assignment is a good option but assigning issues might discourage other people from contributing to that issue. We need all the contributions we can get so this should never be discouraged. Also, an assigned person might not have time for a few weeks, so others should feel free to takeover.

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## Be kind

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Be kind to people trying to contribute. Be aware that people may be a non-native
English speaker, they might not understand things or they might be very
sensitive as to how you word things. Use Emoji to express your feelings (heart,
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star, smile, etc.). Some good tips about code reviews can be found in our
[Code Review Guidelines].

[Code Review Guidelines]: https://docs.gitlab.com/ce/development/code_review.html
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## Feature freeze on the 7th for the release on the 22nd
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After the 7th (Pacific Standard Time Zone) of each month, RC1 of the upcoming release (to be shipped on the 22nd) is created and deployed to GitLab.com and the stable branch for this release is frozen, which means master is no longer merged into it.
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Merge requests may still be merged into master during this period,
but they will go into the _next_ release, unless they are manually cherry-picked into the stable branch.
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By freezing the stable branches 2 weeks prior to a release, we reduce the risk of a last minute merge request potentially breaking things.
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### Between the 1st and the 7th

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These types of merge requests for the upcoming release need special consideration:
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* **Large features**: a large feature is one that is highlighted in the kick-off
  and the release blogpost; typically this will have its own channel in Slack
  and a dedicated team with front-end, back-end, and UX.
* **Small features**: any other feature request.

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**Large features** must be with a maintainer **by the 1st**. This means that:

* There is a merge request (even if it's WIP).
* The person (or people, if it needs a frontend and backend maintainer) who will
  ultimately be responsible for merging this have been pinged on the MR.

It's OK if merge request isn't completely done, but this allows the maintainer
enough time to make the decision about whether this can make it in before the
freeze. If the maintainer doesn't think it will make it, they should inform the
developers working on it and the Product Manager responsible for the feature.

The maintainer can also choose to assign a reviewer to perform an initial
review, but this way the maintainer is unlikely to be surprised by receiving an
MR later in the cycle.
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**Small features** must be with a reviewer (not necessarily maintainer) **by the
3rd**.

Most merge requests from the community do not have a specific release
target. However, if one does and falls into either of the above categories, it's
the reviewer's responsibility to manage the above communication and assignment
on behalf of the community member.

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### On the 7th

Merge requests should still be complete, following the
[definition of done][done]. The single exception is documentation, and this can
only be left until after the freeze if:

* There is a follow-up issue to add documentation.
* It is assigned to the person writing documentation for this feature, and they
  are aware of it.
* It is in the correct milestone, with the ~Deliverable label.

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If a merge request is not ready, but the developers and Product Manager
responsible for the feature think it is essential that it is in the release,
they can [ask for an exception](#asking-for-an-exception) in advance. This is
preferable to merging something that we are not confident in, but should still
be a rare case: most features can be allowed to slip a release.

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All Community Edition merge requests from GitLab team members merged on the
freeze date (the 7th) should have a corresponding Enterprise Edition merge
request, even if there are no conflicts. This is to reduce the size of the
subsequent EE merge, as we often merge a lot to CE on the release date. For more
information, see
[limit conflicts with EE when developing on CE][limit_ee_conflicts].

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### After the 7th
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Once the stable branch is frozen, the only MRs that can be cherry-picked into
the stable branch are:

* Fixes for [regressions](#regressions)
* Fixes for security issues
* New or updated translations (as long as they do not touch application code)

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During the feature freeze all merge requests that are meant to go into the upcoming
release should have the correct milestone assigned _and_ have the label
~"Pick into Stable" set, so that release managers can find and pick them.
Merge requests without a milestone and this label will
not be merged into any stable branches.

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Fixes marked like this will be shipped in the next RC for that release. Once
the final RC has been prepared ready for release on the 22nd, further fixes
marked ~"Pick into Stable" will go into a patch for that release.

If a merge request is to be picked into more than one release it will also need
the ~"Pick into Backports" label set to remind the release manager to change
the milestone after cherry-picking. As before, it should still have the
~"Pick into Stable" label and the milestone of the highest release it will be
picked into.

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### Asking for an exception

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If you think a merge request should go into an RC or patch even though it does not meet these requirements,
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you can ask for an exception to be made. Exceptions require sign-off from 3 people besides the developer:

1. a Release Manager
2. an Engineering Lead
3. an Engineering Director, the VP of Engineering, or the CTO

You can find who is who on the [team page](https://about.gitlab.com/team/).
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Whether an exception is made is determined by weighing the benefit and urgency of the change
(how important it is to the company that this is released _right now_ instead of in a month)
against the potential negative impact
(things breaking without enough time to comfortably find and fix them before the release on the 22nd).
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When in doubt, we err on the side of _not_ cherry-picking.

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For example, it is likely that an exception will be made for a trivial 1-5 line performance improvement
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(e.g. adding a database index or adding `includes` to a query), but not for a new feature, no matter how relatively small or thoroughly tested.
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All MRs which have had exceptions granted must be merged by the 15th.
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### Regressions

A regression for a particular monthly release is a bug that exists in that
release, but wasn't present in the release before. This includes bugs in
features that were only added in that monthly release. Every regression **must**
have the milestone of the release it was introduced in - if a regression doesn't
have a milestone, it might be 'just' a bug!

For instance, if 10.5.0 adds a feature, and that feature doesn't work correctly,
then this is a regression in 10.5. If 10.5.1 then fixes that, but 10.5.3 somehow
reintroduces the bug, then this bug is still a regression in 10.5.

Because GitLab.com runs release candidates of new releases, a regression can be
reported in a release before its 'official' release date on the 22nd of the
month. When we say 'the most recent monthly release', this can refer to either
the version currently running on GitLab.com, or the most recent version
available in the package repositories.

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A regression issue should be labeled with the appropriate [subject label](../CONTRIBUTING.md#subject-labels-wiki-container-registry-ldap-api-etc)
and [team label](../CONTRIBUTING.md#team-labels-ci-discussion-edge-platform-etc),
just like any other issue, to help GitLab team members focus on issues that are
relevant to [their area of responsibility](https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/engineering/workflow/#choosing-something-to-work-on).

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## Release retrospective and kickoff

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- [Retrospective](https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/engineering/workflow/#retrospective)
- [Kickoff](https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/engineering/workflow/#kickoff)
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## Copy & paste responses

### Improperly formatted issue

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Thanks for the issue report. Please reformat your issue to conform to the [contributing guidelines](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md#issue-tracker-guidelines).
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### Issue report for old version

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Thanks for the issue report but we only support issues for the latest stable version of GitLab. I'm closing this issue but if you still experience this problem in the latest stable version, please open a new issue (but also reference the old issue(s)). Make sure to also include the necessary debugging information conforming to the issue tracker guidelines found in our [contributing guidelines](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md#issue-tracker-guidelines).
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### Support requests and configuration questions

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Thanks for your interest in GitLab. We don't use the issue tracker for support
requests and configuration questions. Please check our
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[getting help](https://about.gitlab.com/getting-help/) page to see all of the available
support options. Also, have a look at the [contribution guidelines](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md)
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for more information.
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### Code format

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Please use \`\`\` to format console output, logs, and code as it's very hard to read otherwise.
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### Issue fixed in newer version

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Thanks for the issue report. This issue has already been fixed in newer versions of GitLab. Due to the size of this project and our limited resources we are only able to support the latest stable release as outlined in our [contributing guidelines](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md#issue-tracker). In order to get this bug fix and enjoy many new features please [upgrade](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/tree/master/doc/update). If you still experience issues at that time please open a new issue following our issue tracker guidelines found in the [contributing guidelines](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md#issue-tracker-guidelines).
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### Improperly formatted merge request
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Thanks for your interest in improving the GitLab codebase! Please update your merge request according to the [contributing guidelines](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md#pull-request-guidelines).
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### Inactivity close of an issue

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It's been at least 2 weeks (and a new release) since we heard from you. I'm closing this issue but if you still experience this problem, please open a new issue (but also reference the old issue(s)). Make sure to also include the necessary debugging information conforming to the issue tracker guidelines found in our [contributing guidelines](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md#issue-tracker-guidelines).
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### Inactivity close of a merge request
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This merge request has been closed because a request for more information has not been reacted to for more than 2 weeks. If you respond and conform to the merge request guidelines in our [contributing guidelines](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md#pull-requests) we will reopen this merge request.
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### Accepting merge requests

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Is there an issue on the
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[issue tracker](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/issues) that is
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similar to this? Could you please link it here?
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Please be aware that new functionality that is not marked
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[accepting merge requests](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/issues?milestone_id=&scope=all&sort=created_desc&state=opened&utf8=%E2%9C%93&assignee_id=&author_id=&milestone_title=&label_name=Accepting+Merge+Requests)
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might not make it into GitLab.
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### Only accepting merge requests with green tests

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We can only accept a merge request if all the tests are green. I've just
restarted the build. When the tests are still not passing after this restart and
you're sure that is does not have anything to do with your code changes, please
rebase with master to see if that solves the issue.
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### Closing down the issue tracker on GitHub

We are currently in the process of closing down the issue tracker on GitHub, to
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prevent duplication with the GitLab.com issue tracker.
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Since this is an older issue I'll be closing this for now. If you think this is
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still an issue I encourage you to open it on the [GitLab.com issue tracker](https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/issues).
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[team]: https://about.gitlab.com/team/
[contribution acceptance criteria]: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md#contribution-acceptance-criteria
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["Implement design & UI elements" guidelines]: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md#implement-design-ui-elements
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[Thoughtbot code review guide]: https://github.com/thoughtbot/guides/tree/master/code-review
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[done]: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md#definition-of-done
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[limit_ee_conflicts]: https://docs.gitlab.com/ce/development/limit_ee_conflicts.html