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Codidact Meta is the meta-discussion site for the Codidact community network and the Codidact software. Whether you have bug reports or feature requests, support questions or rule discussions that touch the whole network – this is the site for you.

What are the bus factors of Codidact?

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The purpose of this post is to draw attention to possibly low bus factors and to maybe lead to a more failsafe organization structure by just asking for information.

What are the bus factors for the various parts of Codidact?

The bus factor quantifies how much the operation of an organization is at risk because information and capabilities aren't shared, for example the number of key members that cannot be replaced easily. A large bus factor is generally desired.

Software: QPixel is publicly available so that sounds good but for the Codidact flavor of QPixel additional parts must be assembled to create the software this network runs on. How many persons know how to do that? Is it written down anywhere?

Content: The information stored in this network is contained in a single SQL database. At how many different locations is a recent backup of the database stored? Are there also older versions available? How many people can access them?

Hardware: How many people can access the server?

Domains: Are the relevant domains (codidact.com/org) already controlled by the foundation? How many people know how to administer these domains?

Payment: The bank account has already been set up, I heard. Is it used to pay for the hardware and traffic? And again, how many people have access to it?

I think it's worthwhile to think about that and to try to keep these bus factors as high as possible, especially because with volunteers there is probably a lot of fluctuation.

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What's a "bus factor"? (6 comments)
Working on an answer (2 comments)

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Software: QPixel is publicly available so that sounds good but for the Codidact flavor of QPixel additional parts must be assembled to create the software this network runs on. How many persons know how to do that? Is it written down anywhere?

We have an operations manual of sorts in a private wiki (private because it also contains sensitive security information), which all seven Codidact directors and an additional sysadmin can access. The documentation is ok but could be better, and we will improve it as part of the server migration we're planning. Currently, I believe three people could recreate the software setup without too much difficulty, and one or two more could probably do so with help.

(Basically, the task requires both knowledge of the qpixel code and general sysadmin skills; we have some people who have half of that but not the other half, in addition to the three people who have both.)

The public documentation for how to set up a qpixel (platform) instance is in pretty good shape (thanks to people who've used it and then improved it for the next folks!). Most of the configuration is done through the software itself, meaning it's in the database. A few secrets are managed separately, accessible to the people with hardware access (below).

Content: The information stored in this network is contained in a single SQL database. At how many different locations is a recent backup of the database stored? Are there also older versions available? How many people can access them?

We use one backup location in S3, which is redundant storage. We currently keep 14 days of backups, one backup per day at 02:00Z. We plan to keep additional less-frequent snapshots (e.g. monthly for a year) after the server migration. Currently only one person has access; post-migration multiple people will.

Post-migration we will also have database redundancy through multiple availability zones.

Hardware: How many people can access the server?

Currently, two people have full SSH access and can do anything on the server. A third has access to restart the server (which we've done occasionally when there's a hang and the auto-restart didn't kick in).

Domains: Are the relevant domains (codidact.com/org) already controlled by the foundation? How many people know how to administer these domains?

Two people currently can handle the registrations. The domains are administered with Cloudflare, and two more people have access to that. (In this paragraph I'm repeating things told to me; this is not one of my stronger areas of knowledge.)

Payment: The bank account has already been set up, I heard. Is it used to pay for the hardware and traffic? And again, how many people have access to it?

All Codidact directors have read access; three can spend from the account. Currently the account is not used to pay for AWS to avoid entanglements between the foundation and personal accounts; with the server migration this will change and the foundation account will be used automatically each month.

I know I keep talking about this server migration. We have an approved plan and the money to implement it; we need to get a few more ducks lined up so we can actually do it.

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Thanks for assembling the information (1 comment)

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