Opam-repository: experimenting with closing stale issues

Over at the opam package repository, we are now experimenting with closing issues that have had no activity for 3 months or more. These issues are labelled with the Stale tag, and subsequently closed after a fortnight.

This can be overridden simply by removing the tag and having some (non-bot) activity, which is the reason for this post. We are not closing issues to ignore user problems, but rather to have a sustainable working set for the project developers. If anyone wishes to volunteer and help out by looking at Stale issues and seeing if they can triage them, your efforts would be most welcome. Just navigate over to the Stale Issues label and you can see the full set for yourself.

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I think this is a good idea, especially since the bot comments on the issue when labelling it Stale, so the participants are notified and have a reasonable chance to act on it.

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Nice experiment! We might end up using the same system for the core OCaml project.

Am I the only one to find the message posted by the bot somewhat unpleasant? For reference, here is the message:

This issue is stale because it has been open 90 days with no activity. Remove the stale label, or comment, or this will be closed in 15 days.

I would have expected something more along the following lines: (my comments in italics)

This issue has been open 90 days with no activity. (Let’s start with a fact.)
Consequently, it is being marked with the “stale” label. (Now the action.)
What this means is that the issue will be automatically closed in 15 days (Now the consequences)
unless more comments are added or the “stale” label is removed. (Finally, what can be done about it.)

Is the message easily configurable?

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The message certainly came across as more brusque than I intended! I have edited it in the opam-repository to be:

This issue has been open 90 days with no activity. Consequently, it is being marked with the “stale” label. What this means is that the issue will be automatically closed in 30 days unless more comments are added or the “stale” label is removed. If you come across this issue in the future, you may also find it helpful to visit our forum at https://discuss.ocaml.org where queries related to OCaml package management are very welcome.

The stale timeout of 3 months is also quite low, but I think still appropriate for package management (where users reporting issues tend to disappear fairly soon after their problem is reported or solved – quite reasonably so, as they want to get on with their task at hand!). As we roll this out to other repositories, a much higher timeout would be appropriate.

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