Using zulipbot

Zulip uses @zulipbot, a GitHub workflow bot deployed on all Zulip repositories, to handle issues and pull requests in our repositories in order to create a better workflow for Zulip contributors.

Its purpose is to work around various limitations in GitHub’s permissions and notifications systems to make it possible to have a much more democratic workflow for our contributors. It allows anyone to self-assign or label an issue, not just the core contributors trusted with full write access to the repository (which is the only model GitHub supports).


  • Claim an issue — Comment @zulipbot claim on the issue you want to claim; @zulipbot will assign you to the issue and label the issue as in progress.

    • If you’re a new contributor, @zulipbot will give you read-only collaborator access to the repository and leave a welcome message on the issue you claimed.

    • You can also claim an issue that you’ve opened by including @zulipbot claim in the body of your issue.

    • If you accidentally claim an issue you didn’t want to claim, comment @zulipbot abandon to abandon an issue.

  • Label your issues — Add appropriate labels to issues that you opened by including @zulipbot add in an issue comment or the body of your issue followed by the desired labels enclosed within double quotes ("").

    • For example, to add the bug and help wanted labels to your issue, comment or include @zulipbot add "bug" "help wanted" in the issue body.

    • You’ll receive an error message if you try to add any labels to your issue that don’t exist in your repository.

    • If you accidentally added the wrong labels, you can remove them by commenting @zulipbot remove followed by the desired labels enclosed with double quotes ("").

  • Find unclaimed issues — Use the GitHub search feature to find unclaimed issues by adding one of the following filters to your search:

    • -label: "in progress" (excludes issues labeled with the in progress label)

    • no:assignee (shows issues without assignees)

    Issues labeled with the in progress label and/or assigned to other users have already been claimed.

  • Collaborate in area label teams — Receive notifications on issues and pull requests within your fields of expertise on the Zulip server repository by joining the Zulip server area label teams (Note: this link only works for members of the Zulip organization; we’ll happily add you if you’re interested). These teams correspond to the repository’s area labels, although some teams are associated with multiple labels; for example, the area: message-editing and area: message view labels are both related to the Server message view team. Feel free to join as many area label teams as you’d like!

    After your request to join an area label team is approved, you’ll receive notifications for any issues labeled with the team’s corresponding area label as well as any pull requests that reference issues labeled with your team’s area label.

  • Track inactive claimed issues — If a claimed issue has not been updated for a week, @zulipbot will post a comment on the inactive issue to ask the assignee(s) if they are still working on the issue.

    If you see this comment on an issue you claimed, you should post a comment on the issue to notify @zulipbot that you’re still working on it.

    If @zulipbot does not receive a response from the assignee within 3 days of an inactive issue prompt, @zulipbot will automatically remove the issue’s current assignee(s) and the “in progress” label to allow others to work on an inactive issue.


If you wish to help develop and contribute to @zulipbot, check out the zulip/zulipbot repository on GitHub and read the project’s contributing guidelines for more information.