Social Accountability

Two services that we use at Resgrid a lot, UserVoice and Rollbar, don’t have Cordova Plugins. Every couple of months I would cruise the Internet to see if there were plugins for those services. Every time I turned up empty handed and left the cycle to repeat.

accountability-businessAfter thinking about it again I decided that this isn’t the type of company I want Resgrid to be. See a hole, fill that hole. So I started working on 2 Cordova plugins, one for UserVoice and the other for Rollbar. But prioritizing working on them was difficult. So I decided to push them out to GitHub and see if some social accountability would help motivate me, within a week we got our first PR.

The result, it did. That first PR where someone took the time to clean up some code and fix some issues forced me to dedicate some time to get the plugin working.

Being Socially Accountable is far more then just publishing code on Github or Bitbucket. Communicating your goals to other people, telling your fiends what you hope to accomplish or every morning during your stand up, your practicing social accountability.

But social accountability can be a curse. A while ago I watched a talk given by Jacob Thomton at the dotJS conf in 2012 about the history of OSS and why he feels bad. If you haven’t watched it it’s a good watch, note there is some NSFW language in the talk.

You can spend a lot of your time working on a side project just because it got some stars, PR’s or open issues. Even for small projects I’ve seen this stress people out. A coworker of my released some controls as open source and got a ton of issues back from people using them. Most of them didn’t try and fix them and submit a PR or patch, instead they just logged an issue.

Because of this or other factors maybe you don’t want to practice social accountability via Open Source or maybe you cant due to IP or the private nature of the code. But there are plenty of other avenues, treat your daily standup as an accountability session, have a channel on your Slack instance dedicated to accountability where after DSU you post your daily goals.

Accountability is a powerful thing, but it can be a drag on you as well. Just like everything it has pros and cons, but I feel that people don’t practice it enough. When social accountability is used well it will help you focus, raise visibility and showcase your accomplishments.

Check our Resgrid’s 2 new OSS projects our Cordova Rollbar plugin ( and our UserVoice Cordova plugin ( and hold us accountable.

Resgrid is a SaaS product utilizing Microsoft Azure, providing logistics, management and communication tools to first responder organizations like volunteer fire departments, career fire departments, EMS, search and rescue, CERT, public safety, disaster relief organizations, etc. It was founded in late 2012 by myself and Jason Jarrett (staxmanade).

About: Shawn Jackson

I’ve spent the last 18 years in the world of Information Technology on both the IT and Development sides of the aisle. I’m currently a Software Engineer for Paylocity. In addition to working at Paylocity, I’m also the Founder of Resgrid, a cloud services company dedicated to providing logistics and management solutions to first responder organizations, volunteer and career fire departments, EMS, ambulance services, search and rescue, public safety, HAZMAT and others.