Trainers and auditors should have the ability and framework to do quick research on tools before beginning the feedback collection process. This quick checklist helps trainers, auditors, and trusted facilitators determine whether or not they should choose to spend time collecting feedback on a particular tool.
Prior to beginning feedback collection on any specific tool, it is important to consider the following:
Is the project active? Is the project sustainable?
Before doing anything else, ensure the project is currently active. This means developers are currently working to update and make improvements on the product. With many open source projects, development may fluctuate due to lack of funding, volunteers, or time. Please refer to the checklist below to ensure the tool is actively maintained.
- Begin with a Google search.
- Explore the project’s website to find where they host their code. This is often GitHub, but could also be GitLab, SourceForge or a custom site for larger projects.
- Check for information on OpenHub.net. OpenHub is a platform that gives you immediate data about current open source projects hosted on GitHub. Simply type the name of a tool in the search function and the output is a status report of the project.
- Reference the criteria used by the Open Integrity Index by iilab.
- Additional considerations may also be taken depending on your context or concerns within the high-risk community you’re working with - e.g., has the tool been audited or peer-reviewed?
It can also be helpful to check if the project seems to be stable. Does the project have funding? Is it part of an organization? This is often harder to determine, but can save a lot of wasted effort.
Is there a way to submit feedback? Is there a preferred method of feedback submission (specifically for user-feedback)?
To maximize the impact of the feedback you are able to collect, look up the tool developers and how to contact them in advance. It can be frustrating to collect valuable feedback, but have no one to share it with. You may be able to identify specific developers via the tool’s website, GitHub, or the tool’s social media platform.
You may not always be able to know which method of feedback is preferred. If you do and you are comfortable or familiar with this method, contact the developers through this channel. If not, submit the feedback via the method with which you feel most comfortable. Submitting feedback via a less common channel is better than submitting no feedback.
To make things a bit easier, USABLE has put together a quick list of products that have been vocal about wanting feedback from their users. This list of tools can be found here.