Website Project-Activity

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Website Project Activity


The students collaborate on a course website project hosted in a git repository.


basics of version control, basics of web-development

After successfully completing this activity, the learner should be able to:

Learn the basic tools required to make contributions to actual open source project: issue reporting, verification of issues, discussion of issues, claiming and fixing issues, making pull requests, resolving potential merge conflicts.

Process Skills

communication, teamwork


The idea of this activity is to allow the students to collaborate on a "real" project in a safe environment of their own class rather than jump directly into outside open source project.

  • Course website has to be hosted in a public repository. GitHub provides such hosting.
  • Students have to be familiar with basics of version control (bare minimum, they learn more are the project goes on).
  • Instructor has to introduce a sufficient number of problems to the website so that the students can report issues, but the website should be functional and contain the essential course information during the process.
  • (Optional) It may be a good idea to add a banner to the website mentioning that it is under active development by the students.


Part 1: Finding and Verifying Issues

  • As you are exploring the course website, take a note of any problems, inconsistencies, broken links, miss-formatting, etc.
  • Once you discover a problem, go the course website repository and look through the existing issues.
  • If the issue that you found has not been reported yet, report it. Provide a detailed description of the problem (when it occurs, why you think it is a problem), state which browser and operating system (name and version) you are using.
  • If the issue has been reported, you can comment on it. If nobody verified it before, you can add a comment stating that you have also encountered the issue. If other people already verified it, but you have additional details to add, you can do that as well. If you You can also suggest a solution if you think that you know how to solve it.
  • If you find reported issues that are not really issues, you can contribute that to the discussion.

Goal: By the due date, you should

  • report ONE issue (please, do not report more than one since there are many people in the class trying to complete this task)
  • comment on at least two issues reported by others

You SHOULD NOT be attempting to solve any of the issues just yet!

You SHOULD pay close attention to the issues that you reported and commented on. Other people may ask follow-up questions and suggest modifications to the issue. Eventually, someone may provide a fix to an issue and you should be able to verify quickly that their fix actually works and that it fixes the issue. You should respond to all such comments and requests in a timely manner (i.e., a couple of days, not weeks).

Always remember that you are working/collaborating with other people. BE COURTEOUS!!!

Part 2: Claiming Issues

At this point, there should be a lot of open issues for the project. Add a comment to one of the issues that you would like to fix. The comment should basically state "I would like to claim this issue."

Restrictions: you will not be assigned to fix an issue that you reported yourself. For that reason, there is no point in claiming an issue that you reported.

It may be a good idea to claim issues that have not been claimed before since we will use "first come first serve" rule in assigning the issues.

Goal: By the due date, you should

  • claim a single issue to fix

Part 3: Fixing Problems and Verifying Fixed Problems

Part 3A

You were assigned an issue to work on. (If that is not the case, let the instructor know about it as soon as possible.)

Attempt to fix the issue and submit a pull request. You should make a fork of the exiting code and make and test all the changes that you are proposing in that fork repository. If you enable github pages for that repository, then you can verify that the issue that was reported is actually fixed and that your fix did not break any other parts of the website. Make sure that you carefully read the report of the issue and all/any follow-up discussion. Your fix should implement exactly what was agreed on.

Issue a pull request. In the pull request you should ask the original poster of the issue and (optionally) the people who commented on the issue to verify that the fix is acceptable to them. Provide a link to your fork that stores a functional website with your changes.
If there are merge conflicts when you issue a pull request, you HAVE to resolve them before the pull request can be accepted.

Make sure that you pay close attention to the pull request until it is rejected or merged. The maintainers and/or original posters may ask you to make changes and you should respond to such comments and requests in a timely manner.

Part 3B

As people submit pull requests in order to fix the issues, the original posters (and anybody else) should be verifying that the fix is really relevant to the original issue and that it fixes it according to the discussion for the issue. The author of the pull request should provide the location of a fork for the website so that people can easily verify it.

As changes are incorporated into the website, there may be new issues coming up. If you spot a new problem or previously unreported problem, feel free to report it as a new issue or comment on the previously reported issue.

If an issue is closed and you discover that the problem still exists, you should suggest that it is reopened.

If an accepted fix introduces a new problem, report it as a new issue but mention all other issues and pull request that might be related to this new problem.

Always remember that you are working/collaborating with other people. BE COURTEOUS!!!

Goal: By the due date, you should

  • issue a pull request with a fix for the issue that you claimed
  • verify the fix in the pull request for the issue that you reported
  • verify the fix in the pull request for the issue that you commented on


Notes for Instructors

Part 1: Finding and Verifying Issues

  • This can be started very early in the course. Students need be able to report an issue using the bug tracker and be able to comment on issues reported by other students.
  • There has to be a sufficient number of problems with the site for all students to be able to participate. Although students tend to find issues that might not have been placed there intentionally by the instructor.
  • Estimated time: 5-7 days.

Part 2: Claiming Issues

  • You cannot officially assign an issue to a GitHub user who does not have write access for the repository. This means that assigning issues has to be done either manually or by a bot. (I created a label "ASSIGNED" and manually assigned issues to the students. Each time an issue was assigned to a student, the label was added to the issue. This is time consuming process that could be helped by a TA or by a bot.)
  • Estimated time: 2-3 days.

Part 3: Fixing Problems and Verifying Fixed Problems

  • Set very strict deadlines for submitting pull requests and for verifying them. This project (at least the first round of it) should not take more than a couple of weeks.
  • Estimated time: 5-7 days.


The form of the assessment is expected to vary by assignment. One possible format is the table:

Criteria Level 1 (fail) Level 2 (pass) Level 3 (good) Level 4 (exceptional)
Criterion 1...
Criterion 2...


Suggestions for Open Source Community

Additional Information

Area & Unit(s)

What ACM BoK Area and Unit(s) are covered?


What specific topics are addressed? The Computing Curricula 2013 provides a list of topics in Appendix A - The Body of Knowledge (page 58) -


easy to medium (depending on the student background)

Estimated Time
to Complete

2-3 hours distributed over two weeks.

Environment /

GitHub account, Internet access


Joanna Klukowska


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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