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From Rob Weir <robw...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Surveying Apache TLPs
Date Fri, 24 May 2013 13:42:46 GMT
On Sat, May 18, 2013 at 12:42 PM, Noah Slater <nslater@apache.org> wrote:
> Hey folks,
>
> I've been talking a lot about what "committer" means recently. As a person
> with a vote on the project, do we award this position to people who
> contribute code, or people who we trust? And are there instances where we
> trust someone with a vote (i.e. they've shown merit, sustained
> contributions, etc), even though they do not (and are not likely to)
> contribute code?
>
> One of the things that occurred to me is that I have no idea how other
> people do it across Apache. I'm involved in two TLPs (CloudStack and
> CouchDB) and the approaches are quite different.
>
> So I was thinking how I might learn more about this. I know ComDev is here
> to document stuff, but I recently took a look your website, and I noticed
> that some things are being recommended that seem a little unusual, and
> there is no mention of how common that thing is across Apache.
>
> (In this instance, we were talking about how to elect people to the PMC,
> and the ComDev website says that in most cases, all committers are on the
> PMC. This is interesting, because I believe this is actually the minority
> position across TLPs. But I have no data to back that up.)
>
> And it occurred to me that it would be interesting to do a survey of the
> Apache TLPs. i.e. Just ask people. Then collect that data, and present it
> in some meaningful format.
>

For what purpose?  To suggest a norm based on plurality behaviors and
label non-conforming PMCs as deviant?  To celebrate the diversity of
approaches used by various projects that have different histories and
different experiences and have each found what works for them?   On
one hand the data is neutral.  On the other hand...

> My thinking is that this sort of data would be useful for the whole of
> Apache. ComDev, the Incubator, TLPs, etc, etc. I know that in the
> Incubator, for instance, it can be quite confusing, because the answers you
> get depend on the people you speak to. And I know that even on a TLP,
> there's often a "what do other TLPs do?" question that comes up, with no
> way of knowing.
>

But these still leaves open the question of what behaviors are
required versus recommended versus "do whatever works for you".  Not
every majority opinion is even a recommended opinion.  It might just
means there was a commonality among circumstances.

If every PMC had the same history, social and technological
circumstances, then it would easier to look at the common solution
patterns to the problems implied by those circumstances and say which
ones have worked well.  But since the circumstances are not identical,
it is trickier to make sense of the differences.

Maybe the holy grail here would be to document the differences, but
also tease out the reasons for these differences, i.e., the solution
patterns that have emerged to common circumstances.

> This is a project I am quite interested in doing, with a little guidance
> from people on this list. Assuming, that is, that you folks think this is
> interesting / worth doing.
>
> So, the next questions are:
>
>  1. What sorts of stuff are we interested in finding out?
>
>  2. What's the best way to conduct surveys?
>

A little more work, but you might just mail each project's dev list
and ask the questions.  That allows easy follow-up in case of a
non-response or if you need clarification on a response.  With a
survey you need every question perfect before you send out the survey.
 But an interview approach allows you to probe more where you find
something interesting.  So think social anthropology more than
consumer survey.

> I think 1 can be handled separately to this thread, and on an ongoing
> basis. That is, I have some ideas, but I think they ought to be
> discussed separately.
>
> My thinking is that this should be a long, slowly-paced activity. I don't
> want to tire anyone out. And I think it could form part of a continual
> data-gathering activity.
>
> Right now, I am thinking about 2.
>
> A few ideas:
>
>  a. Send an email to each dev@ list with a set of questions. (I think each
> survey should be small, focused on a specific topic, which ought to
> increase the chances that people respond  and also produce meaningful
> discussion.) I'm not sure, but I think this is likely to result in fewer
> answers, but more discussion. Collecting and analysing the results would be
> a little harder, but not impossible.
>
>  b. Send an email to each dev@ list with a link to a survey. I could use
> something like SurveyMonkey. This allows for very structured
> questions/responses. It also means that people are answering in isolation,
> which means more people might respond (i.e. are not put off responding
> because someone else already said stuff). But is also likely to result in
> less discussion on the list about the topics/questions raised.
>
>  c. Send an email to committers@ with a link to a survey. Should result in
> less discussion, but might also result in less participation. (I expect
> less than 10% of the subscribers to respond.) I would certainly not want to
> put the questions in the email if I was sending to committers@, because
> discussion on that list would not be appropriate.
>
> Would using something like SurveyMonkey be problematic? As part of the
> activity, I would make sure that all the data was made available after the
> fact. That is, just use SurveyMonkey as a tool, and then put the data back
> on to a mailing list, or wiki, or perhaps even into a repository  if ComDev
> has a repository for me to commit to.
>
> Would love to have your thoughts on this.
>
> As I mention, this is something I have in mind as a project I would like to
> undertake with the guidance from people on this list.
>
> Thanks,
>
> --
> NS

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