I wasn’t given the exit interview I asked for when I left Moodle HQ – I asked for one because I felt there was a lot of good that Moodle HQ was doing, but it was marred by a few small, but persistent problems, and I was hoping that bringing them up for you guys to address would make HQ a better work environment for those left behind.
Anyway, I am emailing you now to detail those small but persistent problems, as they were the main reason I left HQ.
- Lack of creative outlet. With the change to front end/back end teams, I hoped this would have changed, but we were still stuck doing backlog work. We weren’t given the chance to think outside the box often enough, and didn’t get to do anything that made a lasting creative effect on Moodle itself. I know we got the project week – in theory, last release we skipped it some how – but that wasn’t time enough to start and finish something truly creative – a new theme based on something other than Bootstrap, or a whole new navigation system, etc.
I asked Michael for the opportunity to swap to the Sites team when Aparup mentioned they needed someone with more CSS chops on the team, but was denied the chance to swap on the grounds that my experience was required on the front end team. Had I have been offered a part time role on the sites team, doing what Aparup was doing – helping with the MOOC theme, or the new Moodle.org theme, I wouldn’t have left HQ looking for a more creative outlet. As it is, I left to find a creative outlet, and my experience was lost altogether.
- Difficult to understand levels and promotion requirements. When I started, I was told a certain number of peer reviews, issues, and tests would be all it would take to level up. When I hit that number a few months later, I was told then that it had to be over an extended period, around the time of the performance review. I was then told the KPI etc were all changing, and could never make head nor tails of what exactly was required of me for a level two promotion. In this time, I saw others, who spent ALOT of out-of-office hours working towards their issues, getting promoted, and it seemed that was the expectation, putting Moodle above all else, which was something I was unwilling to do, as I have a young family that requires my time and attention. When I enquired about the requirements for promotion I was told there was a document that detailed that, but the wording in the document was rather vague, and allowed for a lot of wriggle room, both for management and developers, but at the end of the day, the feeling was that if you didn’t love Moodle, and sacrifice alot for Moodle, you weren’t going to get a promotion.
A clear path for obtainable promotion is a good thing, it gives people something to work towards, something to invest in. Moodle’s promotion path was anything but clear – there are devs there who had no idea what level they were, and more who had no idea what they had to do to get to the next level.
- Monetary compensation. As good as working on an open source project that helps people around the world is, as good as it is to get positive feed back from the community on your contributions, it doesn’t help pay the bills, and with the cost of living going up at the rate it is in Perth, merely keeping up with the national CPI is not enough. All the good will in the world doesn’t really put food on the table.
The going rate for an experienced PHP developer (regardless of frame work) is around $85,000 in Perth at the moment, while Moodle was paying about $100 a week (after tax) less than that.
Moodle has been the best company I have worked for so far, and despite the flaws mentioned above, I really enjoyed my time at Moodle, and working towards the big picture was a wonderful thing. The biggest issue I had at Moodle was the work. It wasn’t as creative as the work I had been doing in previous jobs – jobs I left in search of more creative outlets – and even doing freelance creative work in the evening wasn’t enough to sate my appetite for creativity.
In closing, I’d like to thank Moodle HQ for the opportunity to learn and grow as a developer while working on the Moodle project. It’s been a great time for me, and I hope Moodle continues to grow, going forward.