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From Stefano Mazzocchi <>
Subject Re: @author tags (WAS: RE: ASF Board Summary for February 18, 2004)
Date Fri, 27 Feb 2004 15:29:37 GMT
Tim Larson wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 27, 2004 at 11:33:32AM +0100, Dirk-Willem van Gulik wrote:
>>On Feb 27, 2004, at 12:45 AM, Conal Tuohy wrote:
>>>I don't think the ASF should discourage developers from keeping useful 
>>>metadata about the code inside the source files. What better place to 
>>>put the metadata than in the code? This makes it more likely to be 
>>>used and kept up to date than if it was stored somewhere else, IMHO.
>>One way to look at this is that @author tags are in a way factually 
>>'wrong'; in most cases it just signals which person wrote the  first 
>>skeleton of that code; but subsequently it was fixes, peer-reviewed and 
>>looked at by a whole community. Also do not forget the many people in 
>>your community which help with QA, Documentation, user-feedback and so 
>>on. To put  one person in the (hot) seat for what is essentially a 
>>group effort is not quite right.
>>Looking through the CVS logs of a few tomcat files: each block of 30 
>>lines seems to have had commits of at least 5 persons; with a median of 
>>6 and an  average of 9. The average number of @author tags on those 
>>arbitrary blocks is about 0.5. And that is not counting QA, docs, 
>>suggestions of mailing lists, bug resolutions, user support. I.e. those 
>>things which make tomcat such a great supported product.
>>Secondly what we 'sell' as the ASF brand is a code base which is peer 
>>reviewed, quality controlled and created by a sustainable group which 
>>will survive the coming and going of volunteers. One where knowledge is 
>>generally shared and not just depended on one single individual. This 
>>is one of the key reasons why large companies, governments, etc have a 
>>lot less qualms about using apache than using most other open source; 
>>we mitigate  the worry that it depends on a single person, and can 
>>implode or fork without warning, right from the get-go.
>>Finally - a lot of developers do live in countries where you can get 
>>sued. The ASF can provide a certain level of protection; but this is 
>>based on the KEY premisse that there is oversight and peer review. That 
>>what we ship is a community product; and that everything is backed by 
>>the community and cannot be attributed to a single person. Every commit 
>> gets peer review; ever release requires +1s' and are backed by the 
>>community as a whole. @author tags are by necessity incomplete and thus 
>>portrait the situation inaccurately. Any hint or suggestion that parts 
>>of the code are not a community product makes defence more complex and 
>>expensive. We do not want to temp anyone - but rather present a clean 
>>picture with no blemishes or easy go's.
>>And to give this a positive slant; be -proud- of this culture; be proud 
>>of being part of something larger of incredible  quality. Each of you 
>>did not just write a few pesky lines of code surrounded by an @author 
>>tag; but where instrumental in getting the -whole- thing work ! And if 
>>you are ever trying to understand why cocoon made it this far, and 
>>other commercial/open-source projects did not, then do look there; 
>>quality and a sense of long term stability.
>>Take Care, Have fun,
> Thank you for this email.  My +1 for removal of author tags is now
> whole hearted.  Could we post something like this writeup in a
> committer tips area as an explanation of the policy?


And thanks much to Dirk for taking some of his copious free time to 
write this for us. :-)

[for those of you who don't know or didn't notice, Dirk is the president 
of the ASF]


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