Standard for Public Code

Welcome contributors


  • The codebase MUST allow anyone to submit suggestions for changes to the codebase.
  • The codebase MUST include contribution guidelines explaining how contributors can get involved, for example in a CONTRIBUTING file.
  • The codebase SHOULD advertise the committed engagement of involved organizations in the development and maintenance.
  • The codebase SHOULD document the governance of the codebase, contributions and its community, for example in a GOVERNANCE file.
  • The codebase SHOULD have a publicly available roadmap.
  • The codebase MAY include a code of conduct for contributors.

Why this is important

  • Helps newcomers understand and trust your codebase community’s leadership.
  • Prevents the community that works on a codebase splitting because there is no way to influence its goals and progress – resulting in diverging communities.
  • Helps users decide to use one codebase over another.

What this does not do

  • Guarantee others will join the community.
  • Guarantee others will reuse the codebase.

How to test

  • It’s possible to submit suggestions for changes to the codebase.
  • There are contribution guidelines.
  • Codebase governance is clearly explained, including how to influence codebase governance.

Policy makers: what you need to do

  • Add a list to the codebase of any other resources that policy experts, non-governmental organizations and academics would find useful for understanding or reusing your policy.
  • Consider adding contact details so that other policy makers considering reuse can ask you for advice.

Management: what you need to do

  • Make sure the documentation explains how your organization is involved in the codebase, what resources it has available for it and for how long.
  • Support your experienced policy makers, developers and designers to stay part of the community for as long as possible.

Developers and designers: what you need to do

  • Respond promptly to requests.
  • Keep your management informed of the time and resources you require to support other contributors.

Further reading