Experiment Guide

Experiments can be conducted by any GitLab team, most often the teams from the Growth Sub-department. Experiments are not tied to releases because they will primarily target GitLab.com.

Experiments will be run as an A/B test and will be behind a feature flag to turn the test on or off. Based on the data the experiment generates, the team will decide if the experiment had a positive impact and will be the new default or rolled back.

Experiment tracking issue

Each experiment should have an Experiment tracking issue to track the experiment from roll-out through to cleanup/removal. Immediately after an experiment is deployed, the due date of the issue should be set (this depends on the experiment but can be up to a few weeks in the future). After the deadline, the issue needs to be resolved and either:

  • It was successful and the experiment will be the new default.
  • It was not successful and all code related to the experiment will be removed.

In either case, an outcome of the experiment should be posted to the issue with the reasoning for the decision.

Code reviews

Since the code of experiments will not be part of the codebase for a long time and we want to iterate fast to retrieve data,the code quality of experiments might sometimes not fulfill our standards but should not negatively impact the availability of GitLab whether the experiment is running or not. Initially experiments will only be deployed to a fraction of users but we still want a flawless experience for those users. Therefore, experiments still require tests.

For reviewers and maintainers: if you find code that would usually not make it through the review, but is temporarily acceptable, please mention your concerns but note that it’s not necessary to change. The author then adds a comment to this piece of code and adds a link to the issue that resolves the experiment. If the experiment is successful and becomes part of the product these follow up issues should be addressed.

How to create an A/B test

  • Add the experiment to the Gitlab::Experimentation::EXPERIMENTS hash in experimentation.rb:

       other_experiment: {
       # Add your experiment here:
       signup_flow: {
         environment: ::Gitlab.dev_env_or_com?, # Target environment, defaults to enabled for development and GitLab.com
         tracking_category: 'Growth::Acquisition::Experiment::SignUpFlow' # Used for providing the category when setting up tracking data
  • Use the experiment in a controller:

     class RegistrationController < ApplicationController
      def show
        # experiment_enabled?(:feature_name) is also available in views and helpers
        if experiment_enabled?(:signup_flow)
          # render the experiment
          # render the original version
  • Track necessary events. See the telemetry guide for details.
  • After the merge request is merged, use chatops in the appropriate channel to start the experiment for 10% of the users. The feature flag should have the name of the experiment with the _experiment_percentage suffix appended. For visibility, please also share any commands run against production in the #s_growth channel:

     /chatops run feature set signup_flow_experiment_percentage 10

    If you notice issues with the experiment, you can disable the experiment by removing the feature flag:

     /chatops run feature delete signup_flow_experiment_percentage