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From "Sandy McArthur" <>
Subject Re: [all] Author tags [was Line width and such minutiae]
Date Sun, 02 Apr 2006 17:59:37 GMT
On 4/2/06, robert burrell donkin <> wrote:
> > > Gary Gregory wrote:
> > >  > Based on the February 18, 2004, Apache Software Foundation Board
> > >  > of Directors Meeting Minutes, author tags are "discouraged".
> <snip>
> > > Sandy McArthur wrote:
> > > >I have searched some and the arguments don't hold water with me.
> > > :-) Many things from lawyers and the board don't make sense ;-)
> here's the only convincing argument i know of:
> what worries the board (and other open source folks) is the effective
> destruction of open source projects by targeting (with individual
> lawsuits) the limited number of critical contributors who do crucial
> things such as cutting releases. if these individuals are acting on
> their own behalf, as a non-profit the ASF cannot help them. if they are
> acting for the ASF then the ASF can defend them in court.
> so, the trick is setting up a structure which imposes as little friction
> on development as possible but which allows developers to develop for
> the ASF rather than on their own behalf. PMC'ers are part of the ASF
> organisation by their membership of an ASF committee and can bind the
> ASF to a particular course of action. they should therefore be protected
> from disruptive litigation by the ASF legal umbrella. committers are
> not. so, it's important for PMC's so recognise those who make important
> contributions to the ASF in a reasonably prompt fashion.
> the question of the policy on author tags is related to this. it was
> felt that PMC'ers may be weakening the legal argument (that they acting
> on behalf on the ASF) if they added author tags to the code. might look
> to a lawyer as if they were working for themselves. that's why
> recognition elsewhere is fine.

For me that falls apart in two places:
1. authorship != ownership, this is made clear by the file's header.
2. subversion contains enough information to target critical
contributors. In my mind that is like worrying about a second story
window that may be unlocked when your front door is off the hinges.

> note that this argument is only valid for PMC'ers and is not relevant
> for author tags for other developers. when committing patches from
> developers who are not committers, it is important that the source of
> the patch is noted in the commit (so that it can be tracked).
> > > >I'm proud of the code I've contributed and I think an @author tag is
> > > >proper recognition.
> > > I suppose that five years ago when I joined, I felt something similar.
> > > At that time author tags were allowed, so it wasn't a problem. Over
> > > time, that desire for such 'base' recognition has gone.
> >
> > You're probably right eventually. When I'm married and have kids I
> > probably won't even remember this but until then I do care with
> > respect to my own contributions.
> the maven generated team list and commit emails are better indexed (and
> analysed) than the source. so, as a form of recognition, these generally
> work better. author tags also seem to attract the wrong kind of
> recognition: spam from uneducated users (who should be posting their
> questions to the user list). we've also had arguments in the past about
> authors who no longer wished to be associated with particular classes.
> life is usually easier without them.
> > I think the best "policy" is to stay true to yourself and be tolerant
> > of people with different policies. In my mind that will work today,
> > tomorrow, and up until the earth is swallowed by the sun.
> that's pretty much my approach. i generally leave author tags alone. for
> new classes, i add apache as the author. but my opinion is in the
> minority and i can understand why components with classes with long
> author lists prefer to insist on the maven team list.

Well, IDEs with code folding make that irrelevant and those list of
@author tags not need be so long as the @author can can be either one
name per tag (common) or many comma separated names per tag (seemingly

Sandy McArthur

"He who dares not offend cannot be honest."
- Thomas Paine

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