0003 README specification#




OEP-55 states that one of the jobs of a maintainer is to maintain an up-to-date and useful readme. While it laid out some possibilities about what should go into a README, it did not go into much detail.

OEP-19 also suggests that README files should exist but does not provide a lot of guidance on specifics.


We will define a specification that READMEs in the Open edX project must follow. By having a single definition, we can make it easier for people to navigate between projects and find the most important information quickly.


The readme of a well-maintained repo should contain at least the following sections (an example template follows this section). Ideally in this exact order with additional sections added where it makes sense based on the maintainers judgement.

  • Title - The name of the component.

  • Badges - A set of badges that quickly let visitors review the health of the project.

    • The badges section should contain at minimum the following badges:

      • License - Indicating the license of the repo.

      • Maintenance Status - One of maintained, deprecated, unsupported, experimental.

      • CI Status - The status of CI testing on the main branch.

      • Package Published Status - If the component is a library, then a badge indicating whether publishes to the relevant package index are passing. For example, has the latest version been successfully published to PyPI or NPM?

  • Purpose - A paragraph or two summarizing the purpose of this component. This should be oriented towards people who are new to the Open edX project.

  • Getting Started with Development - A section that helps developers get oriented. Unless the repo has unusual workflows, this might be as simple as linking to the Python or frontend developer how-to.

  • Getting Help - A section to indicate where and how the user can get help with the component, including how they should go about reporting issues with the component. It should link to relevant docs as well as places where the users can get help from other humans.

  • Contributing - A section to indicate how new users can contribute to this component. This section should at the very least contain a link to the general How to Contribute documentation for the Open edX Project.

    The level of contributions that the maintainer is willing to accept should also be clearly described here. Some possible values might be:

    • fixes only - no new features are being accepted at this point, but fixes and maintenance updates welcome.

    • new features accepted - please discuss your new ideas with the maintainers before you write code to increase the changes that features are accepted.

    • security only - no changes accepted except for security fixes.

  • Open edX Code of Conduct - A section that links to the Open edX Code of Conduct

  • People - A section that tells people how they can find the current maintainers of this component. Usually a link to the Backstage page for the component.

  • Reporting Security Issues - A link to the e-mail address where security issues can be reported.


If you have an existing repository that needs to update its README.rst file to match the standards defined here. You can begin by copying the templated README.rst from the cookiecutter repository used to create new Open edX repos.