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From Stefano Mazzocchi <>
Subject Re: doc to explain incubation of sub-projects
Date Mon, 23 Jun 2003 23:23:28 GMT
on 6/21/03 10:45 PM David Crossley wrote:

> I think that we need a document that clearly explains what it
> means to be a "Cocoon sub-project under incubation".
> This would go at the top-level of the cocoon website and help to
> explain the mysterious statements on the Cocoon and Lenya home pages.

All right, since I feel in write-mood these days, I'll try to come up
with something.

                                - o -

                  The meaning of project incubation

After years of software development and hundreds of developers coming in
and out, a concept crystallized around the ASF and it basically says:

 a development community is more important than the software it develops

The reason for this is simple: software doesn't evolve by itself and
since software lives in an environment and this environment is
continously changing, a software that is perfect for the job today,
might not be in the future.

The existance of a healthy development community around code guarantees
that software evolution will evolve to fit the environmental constrains.

But what does make a community "healthy"?

Again, after years of successes and failures, there is general consensus
that a development community is healthy if:

 1) it exhibits diversity

 2) it presents an open attitude toward confrontation, changes and new

Note that the above rules do *NOT* take into consideration technological
concepts: the ASF is *very* open to technological differences, so much
so, in fact, that technical considerations are left to the users or to
the markets, but are not filtered out by the foundation itself.

The foundation cares *exclusively* about the quality of the communities
and the reason is mainly because a healthy community brings back more
energy to the foundation that what it consumes (positive engine!), while
a non-healthy community is very likely to drain more energy from the
foundation than it is able to donate back.

The ASF can sustain its growth only if new efforts bring more energy
into the system than they use, thus contributing positively at the
entire energetic equation.

But building a community takes time and effort, expecially if it was
never done before.

For this reason, the ASF created the concept of "incubation" to allow
healthy communities to be bootstrapped.

A project under incubation is basically a project that is not considered
healthy enough to be able to give back to the foundation more energy
that it consumes.

Many times incubation is done because lack of diversity, for example, if
one entity (company, group or individual) donates a software to the
foundation but only people belonging to that entity work on it.

Diversity is important because it creates long-term stability. It has
happened in the past that, for example, a company goes bankrupt and all
the people working on the projects are gone, leaving the project with no
development community. This is unacceptable because a project without a
working community drains an incredible amount of human resources and
energy from the foundation to fix things and normally much more than the
project is able to give back in the short term.

Incubation is a way to protect the foundation from the potential
negative impact of social problems happening inside the effort being
under incubation.

Projects under incubation can develop the community qualities that will
make them exit the incubation period, or can simply die out. In this
last case, the effort is simply cancelled or kept there in a limbo until
somebody else shows up some interest.

Incubated projects are to be considered not ready from a community
perspective (which, note, does *NOT* mean any judgement from a
technological perspective but only from a community perspective!), sort
of community infants that need mentoring by older communities to achieve
the long-term stability that is valued by both the ASF and by the users
who base their effort on the software the ASF produces.

                                - o -

Feel free to edit/add/change at will.

Wikifiers/docifiers are always welcome ;-)


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