Managing peer review (the
Peer reviewing is an important part of a programming curriculum, so of course
RepoBee facilitates this! Like much of the other functionality in RepoBee, the
peer review functionality is built around indirect access through teams with
limited access privileges. In short, every student repo up for review gets an
associated peer review team generated, which has
pull access to the repo.
Each student then gets added to
0 < N < num_students peer review teams, and
are to open a peer review issue in the associated repos. This is at least the
the default. See Selecting peer review allocation algorithm for other available review
Getting started with peer reviews (the
The bulk of the work is performed by the
reviews assign. Most of its
arguments it has in common with the other commands of RepoBee. The only
non-standard arguments are
--num-reviews, the former of
which we’ve actually already seen in the
issues open command (see
Opening Issues (the open action)). We will assume that both
already configured (if you don’t know what this means, have a look at
Configure RepoBee for the target organization (the config category)). Thus, the only things we must specify are
--issue is optional,
more on that later). Let’s make a minimal call with the
assign action, and
then inspect the log output to figure out what happened. Recall that
students.txt lists our three favorite students slarse, glassey and glennol
(see Set up student repositories (the setup action)).
$ repobee reviews assign -a task-1 --sf students.txt --num-reviews 2 # Output nabbed from the log file, this will not appear on stdout # step 1 [INFO] Created team slarse-task-1-review [INFO] Created team glennol-task-1-review [INFO] Created team glassey-task-1-review # step 2 [INFO] Adding members glennol, glassey to team slarse-task-1-review [INFO] Adding members glassey, slarse to team glennol-task-1-review [INFO] Adding members slarse, glennol to team glassey-task-1-review # steps 3 and 4, interleaved [INFO] Opened issue glennol-task-1/#1-'Peer review' [INFO] Adding team glennol-task-1-review to repo glennol-task-1 with 'pull' permission [INFO] Opened issue glassey-task-1/#2-'Peer review' [INFO] Adding team glassey-task-1-review to repo glassey-task-1 with 'pull' permission [INFO] Opened issue slarse-task-1/#2-'Peer review' [INFO] Adding team slarse-task-1-review to repo slarse-task-1 with 'pull' permission
The following steps were performed:
One review team per repo was created (
Two students were added to each review team. Note that these allocations are _random_. For obvious resons, there can be at most
num_students-1peer reviews per repo. So, in this case, we are at the maximum.
An issue was opened in each repo with the title
Peer review, and a body saying something like
You should peer review this repo.. The review team students were assigned to the issue as well (although this is not apparent from the logging).
The review teams were added to their corresponding repos with
pullpermission. This permission allows members of the team to view the repo and open issues, but they can’t push to (and therefore can’t modify) the repo.
That’s it for the basic functionality. The intent is that students should open
an issue in every repo they are to peer review, with a specific title. The issues
can then be searched by title, and the
check action can find which students
have opened issues in the repositories they’ve been assigned to review. Now,
let’s talk a bit about that
Assigning peer reviews gives the reviewers read-access to the repos they are to review. This means that if you use issues to communicate grades/feedback to your students, the reviewers will also see this feedback! It is therefore important to remove the peer review teams (see Cleaning up with (then end action)).
Specifying a custom issue¶
The default issue is really meant to be replaced with something more specific to
the course and assignment. For example, say that there were five tasks in the
task-1 repo, and the students should review tasks 2 and 3 based on
some criteria. It would then be beneficial to specify this in the peer review
issue, so we’ll write up our own little issue to replace the default one.
Remember that the first line is taken to be the title, in exactly the same way
as issue files are treated in Opening Issues (the open action).
Review of task-1 Hello! The students assigned to this issue have been tasked to review this repo. Each of you should open _one_ issue with the title `Peer review` and the following content: ## Task 2 ### Code style Comments on code style, such as readability and general formatting. ### Time complexity Is the algorithm O(n)? If not, try to figure out what time complexity it is and point out what could have been done better. ## Task 3 ### Code style Comments on code style, such as readabilty and general formatting.
Assuming the file was saved as
issue.md, we can now run the command
specifying the issue like this:
$ repobee reviews assign -a task-1 --sf students.txt --num-reviews 2 --issue issue.md
This will have the same effect as last time, but with the custom issue being opened instead.
Checking review progress (the
check action provides a quick and easy way of checking which
students have performed their reviews. You provide it with the same information
that you do for
assign, but additionally also provide a regex to match
against issue titles. The command then finds all of the associated review
teams, and checks which students have opened issues with matching titles in
their alloted repositories. Of course, this says nothing about the content of
those issues: it only checks that the issues have been opened at all.
--num-reviews is also required here, as it is used as an expected value for
how many reviews each student should be assigned to review. It is a simple
but fairly effective way of detecting if students have simply left their review
teams. Here’s an example call:
$ repobee reviews check -a task-1 --sf students.txt --num-reviews 2 --title-regex '\APeer review\Z' reviewer num done num remaining repos remaining glennol 0 2 glassey-task-1,slarse-task-1 slarse 2 0 glassey 0 2 glennol-task-1,slarse-task-1
The output is color-coded in the terminal, making it easier to parse. We make use of this when doing peer reviews in a classroom settings, as it allows us to quickly check which students are done without having to ask them out loud every five minutes. The next command lets you clean up review teams and thereby revoke reviewers’ read access once reviews are over and done with.
issues list command with the
--title-regex (with a regex
matching the review issue title) and
--show-body options to actually
check the contents of the students’ review issues.
Cleaning up with (then
The one downside of using teams for access privileges is that we bloat the
organization with a ton of teams. Once the deadline has passed and all peer
reviews are done, there is little reason to keep them. It can also often be a
good idea to revoke the reviewers’ access to reviewed repos if you yourself
plan to provide feedback on the issue tracker, so as not to let the reviewers
see it. Therefore, the
end action can be used to remove all peer review
teams for a given set of student repos, both cleaning up the organization and
revoking reviewers’ read access. Let’s say that we’re completely done with the
peer reviews of
task-1, and want to remove the review teams. It’s as simple
$ repobee reviews end -a task-1 --sf students.txt # Progress bars will show how many teams have been deleted thus far
end action deletes review allocations created by
assign. This is an irreversible action. You cannot run
check after running
end for any given set of student repos, and
there is no functionality for retrieving deleted review allocations. Only
end when reviews are truly done, and you have collected what
results you need. If being able to backup and restore review allocations is
something you need, please open an issue with a feature request on the
And that’s it, the review teams are gone. If you also want to close the related
issues, you can simply use the
issues close command for that (see
Closing Issues (the close action)). The
end action plays one more important role; if you mess
something up when assigning the peer reviews. The next section details how you
can deal with such a scenario.
Messing up and getting back on track¶
Let’s say you messed something up with allocating the peer reviews. For example,
if you left out a student, there is no easy way to rectify the allocations such
that that student is included. Let’s say we did just that, and forgot to include
cabbage in the reviews for
task-1 back at
Getting started with peer reviews (the assign action). We then do the following:
Check if any reviews have already been posted. This can easily be performed with
repobee reviews check -a task-1 --sf students.txt -r '^Peer review$' --num-reviews 2(assuming the naming conventions were followed!). Take appropriate action if you find any reviews already posted (appropriate being anything you see fit to alleviate the situation of affected students possibly being assigned new repos to review).
Delete the review teams with
repobee reviews end -a task-1 --sf students.txt
Close all review issues with
repobee issues close -a task-1 --sf students.txt -r '^Review of task-1$'
Create a new
issue.mdfile apologetically explaining that you messed up:
Review of task-1 (for real this time!) Sorry, I messed up with the allocations previously. Disregard the previous allocations (repo access has been revoked anyway).
Assign peer reviews again, with the new issue, with
repobee reviews assign -a task-1 --sf students.txt --num-reviews 2 --issue issue.md
And that’s it! Disaster averted.
Selecting peer review allocation algorithm¶
The default allocation algorithm is as described in Managing peer review (the reviews category), and is
suitable for when reviewers do not need to interact with the students whom they
review. This is however not always the case, sometimes it is beneficial for
reviewers to to interact with reviewees (is that a word?), especially if the
peer review is done in the classroom. Because of this, RepoBee also
provides a _pairwise_ allocation scheme, which allocates reviews such that
A reviews student
B, then student
B reviews student
A (except for an
A->B->C->A kind of deal in one group if there are an
odd amount of students). This implemented as a plugin, so to run with this
scheme, you add
-p pairwise in front of the command.
$ repobee -p pairwise reviews assign -a task-1 --sf students.txt
Note that the pairwise algorithm ignores the
--num-reviews argument, and
will issue a warning if this is set (to anything but 1, but you should just not
specify it). For more details on plugins in RepoBee, see Plugins for RepoBee (the plugin category).
Double-blind peer review¶
RepoBee 3.6 adds experimental support for double-blind peer review. The user experience is not finalized, but the functionality is all there. This section provides a walkthrough for how to assign double-blind peer review. It assumes that you’ve read through the prior sections of the peer review documentation.
The general idea of the double-blind peer review is to assign reviewers to review copies of their peers’ repositories. The whole procedure is something like this:
reviews assignCreate copies of all student repositories under review and assign reviewers to them
The commit history is anonymized
The repository name is anonymized
reviews checkVerify that students have performed their reviews
issues listCollect reviews from anonymous repos and store them locally
issues openDistribute anonymously submitted reviews to original repositories
They are opened with your user account, so as long as reviewers haven’t put their names in the reviews they will be anonymous!
reviews endDelete repo copies and associated review teams
issues listto collect the reviews before running
reviews end, or all reviews will be lost!
As you may note, this is the same sequence of commands as for no-blind review,
issues list and
issues open are sprinkled into the middle.
Usage of all commands shown is as usual, with they key exception that you’ll be
providing them with a secret key for the anonymization.
I order to run
reviews assign in double-blind mode, all you need to do in
addition to the no-blind usage is to supply the
$ repobee reviews assign -a task-1 --sf students.txt --double-blind-key SUPER_SECRET_KEY
The key is a secret, do not share it with the students. After assigning reviews with a given key, you must also remember or otherwise store that key until those reviews are closed, or you will be unable to interact with the anonymous repos.
The double-blind key is a secret. Given the key, all repositories can be deanonymized.
For each review, you must remember or store the key until reviews are closed. Otherwise, you can’t deanonymize the repos, and consequently can’t collect and distribute reviews.
If you run double-blind
reviews assign for with
1, reviewers reviewing the same repository will be able to
see each others’ reviews.
Just like with
reviews assign, the only thing you need to add in addition to
normal usage is the
$ repobee reviews check \ --assignments task-1 \ --sf students.txt \ --num-reviews 1 \ --title-regex '\APeer review\Z' \ --double-blind-key SUPER_SECRET_KEY
The repositories are deanonymized, and the output looks precisely like that of no-blind review. Needless to say, your students should not be shown this output.
SUPER_SECRET_KEY must match the key you supplied to
Collecting double-blind reviews with
Once you’ve verified that the students have performed their reviews with
reviews check, you can collect reviews with
issues list. Here, you need
to specify two arguments out of the ordinary:
--double-blind-key with your
secret key, as well as
--hook-results-file to store the issues locally.
To collect only the reviews, with title “Peer review”, the command could look
$ repobee issues list \ --assignments task-1 \ --sf students.txt \ --title-regex '\APeer review\Z' \ --hook-results-file results.json \ --double-blind-key SUPER_SECRET_KEY
By specifying the title regex your students use for review, you don’t collect
the instructions. If you’d like to also collect and distribute the instructions
to the original repos, you can either use a carefully crafted regex for it, or
simply provide the empty strigle (i.e.
--title-regex ""), which will match
Note that you can now also browse the reviews before distribution by viewing
Distributing double-blind reviews with
In order for students to actually be able to read the reviews by their peers,
the issues need to be distributed to the original repos. To do this, execute
issues open as per usual, but supply
--hook-results-file instead of
$ repobee issues open \ --assignments task-1 \ --sf students.txt \ --hook-results-file results.json
Note that you do not need the key here: the issues in the hook results file are already deanonymized.
If using GitHub, your access token must have the
delete_repo scope in
order to run this command.
reviews end is a cleanup command. When doing no-blind peer review, it’s
often necessary to run it as students otherwise maintain read access to
their peers’ repositories, and may then be able to view feedback from teachers
or TAs. With double-blind reviews, this isn’t the case as the reviewers only
get access to copies of the reviewed repositories. However, it does leave quite
a mess of repositories and review teams with strange names, so cleaning up may
be desirable. If you want to do that, simply run
reviews end and supply
$ repobee reviews end \ --assignments task-1 \ --sf students.txt \ --double-blind-key SUPER_SECRET_KEY
reviews end irrevocably destroys all traces of the reviews,
including deleting the anonymous repositories and review teams. Make sure
to collect reviews with
issues list before doing this.
And that’s pretty much all there is to double-blind review with RepoBee!