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From Simone Gianni <>
Subject Re: Boosting participation and community in Apache Labs?
Date Thu, 22 Jul 2010 13:49:31 GMT
2010/7/22 Ross Gardler <>

> On 21/07/2010 19:33, Shane Curcuru wrote:
>> I was just wondering...
>> The Labs project (a place where any committer can starup their own
>> independent mini-"project" to work on, potentially with other
>> committers) has been awfully quiet lately.
>> I was wondering: is doing an article or FAQ or some sort of mentor
>> outreach within ComDev a good way to increase the sense of community
>> within Labs?
> Labs was specifically created as an infrastructure for collaboration. There
> was never any intention for there to be community:
> "The aim is to provide the necessary resource to promote and maintain the
> innovative power within the Apache community without the burden of community
> building." [1]
I do agree : Lab is not for community "building". Because there is already
an "Apache comunity" somehow listening, and if possible participating, to
what happens in Labs. All Apache committers already have commit rights, and
are usually inclined to innovation.

The problem is : it is quite underutilized.

In plain (italo-)english: I have an idea, I want to work for some time on
the idea, this idea is creative and innovative, but still I'm the only one
on this planet taking it seriously, maybe cause I'm a visionary or maybe
because the idea is plain wrong or maybe because I'm not able to communicate
it efficiently, who knows. Being a programmer, I start writing some code (or
some slides, or some proof of concept .. let's call it "code"). This code
can stay in my IDE for a few weeks/months, then end up in a folder on my
hard drive for a few months/years, then disappears. Was the idea wrong? Was
it just me not being able to give it momentum? Nobody will ever know.

Currently Labs is somehow acting as that folder on my hard drive.

Being formally a shared SVN folder is not bringing me much advantage, if i
don't use the Apache community that folder is shared with, and this is where
we (Labs in general, PIs expecially) are still missing something.

Please note, I'm NOT telling Labs people (PMC, PIs, people on the mailing
list etc..) are to blame for this. Simply it is not happening : PIs (that
is: people working in labs) does not disclose what they are working on, does
not ask for advice, does not post updates etc.. (I'm a PI ... and I don't
post updates on my lab, nor ask for advice ... so I am one of those). as a
conseguence, the mailing list if awfully quite.

However we cannot expect PIs to do this spontaneously : the very reason they
are in Labs is because community is not a simple task ( for them | for that
idea ). We are mostly creative computer programmers, well known for not
being terrific social creatures, so we need to be
helped/stimulated/whatever, but not stressed.

Whenever it happens that the community is triggered, and someone have a look
at stuff in Labs, usually something happens (code is proposed to incubator,
or incorporated into a TLP .. Amber being the most recent example),
demostrating that the Labs model works if and when a PI tap into the power
of the Apache community.

IMHO this is the activity we should boost. It is not creating a community
that commit code bits, but help PIs to communicate with the existing Apache
community the creative and innovative side of their ideas, then eventually
community will become involved and help the code moving "up the chain".

What could a be good way of stimulating it? Without creating "burden" or
psychological pressure on PIs?

I'm not involved in ComDev so I cannot tell if the Mentor programme can
help, I trust Ross opinion. Just wanted to give my two cents after two years
in Labs.


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