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by Greg Knaddison
The Drupal project uses the project module to track bugs and features on drupal.org. For a long time if you wanted to pay attention to an issue you had to comment on it resulting in the infamous "subscribe" comment. In late 2011 a feature was created to allow people to subscribe to an issue without commenting on it. The world rejoiced (see this article for history and details).
This gives us an interesting bit of metadata that is not exposed in the user interface anywhere: issues with a lot of "follows" are likely to be important to the Drupal project. I got curious and did a little query magic and found the following issues have the most followers.
The top 10 most followed issues:
But if we look at those many of them have many subscriptions because they have many comments. The first one, for example, has 520 comments and when the follow system was rolled out the previous commenters had their follow flag set to on.
So, I re-ran the query to remove any flags from people who had commented on the issue.
The top 10 issues based on followers who didn't comment:
One interesting thing here is that this list makes the value of the follow button completely obvious. One example has just 22 emotion filled comments and 49 "follows." That would have been a 2-to-1 noise-to-signal ratio without the follow button. What a great improvement!
Looking at that list there are some which are old and have a lot of follows simply because they are old. So, I added a filter for flags created in the last 30 days.
The top 10 issues based on followers in the last 30 days who didn't comment:
A lot of the issues are the same across all three tables. For example, people really want Open Atrium on Drupal 7 and that makes some sense (I wonder how many are paid Open Atrium support customers, helping directly to move the project forward).
These issues really are some of the most important and interesting issues in Drupal right now. They represent a mix of different root-causes and priorities, but 'solving' these will be key to the project.
If you'd like to see these numbers in a dynamic table I've added the queries I used to this issue: provide lists of most followed issues.