Chapter 1

The Athens Community

Welcome, Athenian! We’ve put together this section to help you get involved with the Athens community.

Before we go further, we want you to know two things:

  1. You can contribute in many ways, including documentation, testing, writing code, reporting bugs, reviewing code, technical writing, and more
  2. Absolutely everybody is welcome. You are welcome in our community, regardless of your level of programming experience, number of years writing Go, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or anything else. If you want to be here, we will do everything we can to help you feel welcome and involved

Ready to join us? Head over to the guide on how to participate to get started!

Subsections of The Athens Community

Participating in the Community

Absolutely everyone is welcome to join our community at any time! We are a friendly and inclusive group and we’d love to have you. We have three roles in the Athens community:

  • Community member
  • Contributor
  • Maintainer

Read on to find out more!

Community Members

Community members are folks who decide they want to get involved with our community. Absolutely anyone can do that whenever they want. If you want to get involved, that doesn’t mean you have to commit to being involved, but we hope our community is welcoming and the work is interesting enough to convince you to stay :)

We’ll provide all the support we can possibly provide to help you contribute in any way you’d like. If you’re considering joining us, here are some ideas for how you can get involved:

  • Comment on an issue that you’re interested in
  • Submit a pull request (PR) to fix an issue, or to improve something that doesn’t have an issue
  • Review a PR that you’re interested in
  • Join us at office hours (or more than one!)
    • See here for recordings of all our past meetings
  • Come chat with us in the gophers slack in the #athens channel
  • … and anything else that’s appropriate for you!


As you participate in the community more and more, you’ll have the opportunity to become a contributor. Here’s what being a contributor means, and what you should do to become one.

What Being a Contributor Means

Contributors have read access to the Athens repository on Github. This means that as a contributor, you’re able to have issues assigned to you and you’ll be requested to review pull requests (PRs) via the Github pull request review system.

We rely heavily on the Github PR review system, which means that if you review a PR as a contributor, you can help decide when that PR is ready to be merged. Don’t worry that you don’t know enough, the final approval and merge will be by one or more maintainers.

How to Become a Contributor

To become a contributor, the core maintainers of the project would like to see you:

  • Attend our development meetings regularly1
  • Comment on issues with your experiences and opinions
  • Add your comments and reviews on pull requests (anyone can do this as a community member)
  • Contribute PRs to fix issues
  • Open issues as you find them

Contributors and maintainers will do their best to watch for community members who may make good contributors. But don’t be shy, if you feel that this is you, please reach out to one or more of the contributors or maintainers.


After you become a contributor, you’ll have the opportunity to become a maintainer. If you’re happy with your contributions but want more of a role in steering the project then read more on being a maintainer.

The End

The above descriptions lay out roughly what each role is and how you can move into each of them. Folks all have different strengths, live in different places, and so on. We’re a diverse group, and we want to keep it that way!

So, everything in this document is a guideline, not a hard-and-fast rule. If you are really good at something, or can’t do something else, talk to one of the maintainers and let us know what’s up. We will accommodate everyone the best we can.

1 Athens development meetings are during the day in US Pacific Time. We know that this time can be problematic for some folks due to work commitments, different time zones, and so on. If you can't come to meetings, that's totally ok and doesn't mean you can't become a contributor! Just let one of the maintainers know about it, or leave a message in #athens in the gophers slack.

2 Anyone and everyone is of course welcome to do this too!

Our Philosophy

This document lays out generally how we want to work with each other. It’s hard to make a rule or set a guideline for each and every situation that might come up in our community. That’s basically predicting the future!

We do of course set some boundaries like the code of conduct, but we want to fall back to this document for guidance when we encounter a new situation or question that we need to address.

Guiding Principles

This is the TL;DR of the whole document! The Athens project has a few guiding principles:

  • Be nice to each other
  • Make development & testing easy
  • Focus on the Community
  • Ask Questions

In the rest of this document, we’re going to go into detail for each of these items.

Be Nice to Each Other

We firmly believe that a nice, welcoming and constructive community comes first, and code and technology second. If the folks in the community around this project aren’t nice to each other, it doesn’t matter how cool our technology is.

  • Let’s try to make newcomers feel welcome
  • Let’s put our debates in Github issues, and be civil and constructive in them
  • Let’s be empathetic
  • Let’s listen more than we talk
  • We’re in different time zones, so let’s respect that
  • Let’s encourage each other to learn new aspects of our project

Most importantly, let’s be inclusive. Not everyone will share your point of view, communication style, and many other things. Try to consider their point of view and treat them with respect.

Make Development & Testing Easy

Cognitive load is bad when you’re writing code, so let’s try to minimize it.

  • Getting started should be a one-liner
  • Let’s make the hard things easier
  • Docs are good, let’s keep them up to date
  • Let’s make it pleasant to work with our code

Focus on the Community

There’s an African proverb that goes like this:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

We want to apply that wisdom to our community.

  • It’s easy and sometimes tempting to do everything yourself
  • But if we want to keep the project growing, it’s hard to have just a few people doing everything
  • Related: the bus factor
  • So let’s focus on bringing new people into the community, and getting them started (see: Be Nice to Each Other, above)

Ask Questions

Questions are a great way for us to share ideas and make the project and community better.

  • If you don’t know something, try not to be afraid to ask
  • If you think your question is stupid, ask it anyway
  • … And if you’re still uncomfortable asking in public, ask a maintainer in private
  • If someone asks you a question, it’s ok to answer it later
  • Put answers on paper where everyone can read them, if you can
  • … And FAQs are great to have - let’s do them!
  • Newcomers have the best perspectives, so listen well to their questions

Office Hours

Athens developers get together for an hour or so approximately every week on a video chat to learn and discuss a part of the codebase. The hour is relatively unstructured, but generally it starts out with a core maintainer (usually @arschles) going into the details of a part of the codebase. From there, we just go where the questions take us.

This is a great opportunity for new community members to get more involved with the project in a low-pressure setting. It’s also a great setting for existing community members to gain a deeper understanding into the codebase.

We meet at this zoom video chat URL:

Absolutely everybody is welcome to attend these meetings. You’re free to suggest topics to talk about, share your perspective, and participate as little or much as you’d like.

You don’t have to be a contributor to attend.


All office hours happen using the zoom software. Before you come to the meeting, please make sure you have installed the zoom client using this link:

If you’d like to attend an office hours, please join the #athens channel in the Gophers Slack Group. An announcement will be made on Tuesday mornings to remind folks before the office hours start. You can also follow @arschles and/or @gomods on Twitter to get these announcements.

Usually, office hours are at 2pm (14:00) US Pacific time on Tuesdays.

The Zoom Software

Also, if you are using a Mac, there is a vulnerability that can allow arbitrary websites to activate your camera without your permission. Please see here for more information.

If you haven’t updated your Zoom software since July 10, 2019, please do so to fix this issue.

Triaging Pull Requests

Hi, Gopher! We’re glad you’re interested in getting into PR triaging. This page details how to do that. Let’s get started!


We’re trying to all work together to make sure all of our pull requests (PRs) get reviewed and merged efficiently. So, we set up an easy way for anyone to “triage” pull requests on any Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

PR triaging means looking at older PRs and do either or both of these things, as appropriate:

  • Prompting reviewers to come back and re-review
  • Prompting submitters to come back and address reviews

Absolutely anyone can do triaging, and this is a great way to get involved with the community.

Sign up for triaging here.


The Athens community all works together to keep up to date on issues and pull requests. For issues, we take some time each week to review issues in the next milestone and others that folks are interested in.

We try to keep PR reviews moving a little bit faster and more efficiently, so we look at those 3 times a week.

PR reviews are asynchronous:

  • A PR gets submitted
  • You leave feedback in your review
  • The submitter reads and addresses it (e.g. change code or respond to the comment) your feedback sometime later
  • You come back and re-review sometime after that

I personally love the asynchronous workflow, but life happens - people forget, people get busy, go on vacation, etc… - as they should! We’re all human and we need breaks like that.

The problem is that PR reviews can get stalled. So, it’s important to make sure that a PR doesn’t sit idle for too long.

We’re getting a person to come check in three times a week to make sure that older PRs are still getting attention.

Triage Schedule

Since we don’t have a super huge volume of PRs, we’re looking for folks to do the following on a triage day:

  • Look at PRs not updated in the last 3 days
  • Add a comment to prompt reviewers and the submitter to come back to the PR:
    • If new commits have been added to the PR since 1 or more reviewer has done a review, please prompt those reviewers to come back and re-review
    • If there are still comments pending and the submitter hasn’t addressed them, please prompt the submitter to look at the new comments
  • If you see a PR that hasn’t been updated in more than 10 days, write this in the PR comments and we’ll come figure out what’s going on (probably contact someone directly or close the PR): @gomods/maintainers this PR is really old!

If you need to prompt someone in your triage, do it by mentioning someone on GitHub like this: @arschles can you look at this again?. If you notice that someone has been @mentioned already, you can try pinging them on Slack. If you ping them, be nice and remember that they might be busy with other things though :)

How do I Sign Up?

Anyone, regardless of background, experience, familiarity with the project, time zone, or pretty much anything else. This is a wonderful way to get involved with the project. Triages generally take 15 minutes or less if you’ve done a few before (see the bottom of this section if you haven’t).

If you’d like to do triaging on a particular day, please add your name to the triaging spreadsheet.

If you haven’t done a triage before and would like to get started, please submit an issue.

If any of this doesn’t make sense, please contact us in the #athens channel in the Gophers Slack and we’ll clear it up and get you started.

Can this be Automated?

Probably, yes! But we don’t know if there are exact criteria on when PRs should be “prompted” and how a bot should do that. Maybe we’ll learn those criteria here.

Even still, it’s nice to have a human touch as a submitter and reviewer. It matches our philosophy very well.

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