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From Ross Gardler <>
Subject Re: On wearing multiple hats
Date Tue, 25 Oct 2016 14:19:06 GMT
First, I'm tired of hearing it too but let's not be fooled, most of the time it comes from
people ill informed about how the ASF works.

We use social controls within the projects and we have a fully independent board to handle
escalations should a community member feel that their (or anothers) merit not be recognized.

If this is breaking down then its a problem within the PMC not with the process, which has
served us well for many years across many projects and should, IMHO, serve us well for many
more. Rather than starting to look for a solution to a problem purebred by others perhaps
we should look at why they have this perception.

Here's my thoughts...

Open source, in general, has changed. Its gone from mostly individual hackers from small collaborating
companies "scratching their own itch" to mostly big business and will funded startups paying
individuals who sometimes don't care on a personal level. This has resulted in the emergence
of a different flavor of open source. One in which money and metrics count more than community
and code. I'm the money and metrics model success means market disruption rather than collaboration
on code.

I maintain that the Apache Way is still a highly valuable and repeatable process that when
applied correctly brings the highest chance of success (where success is valuable open source
code). It is a process that is designed to ensure that those who care on a personal level
have as much influence as those who are motivated by external need. It is a process that leaves
money and metrics at the door but recognizes community and code contributions quickly.

I'm not a fan of metrics. They are often misleading and allow any story to be told. I'm much
more interested in people taking responsibility for the health of their community than taking
the easy route and monitoring an arbitrary metric. Those people should be working within project
PMCs to ensure all contributions (code or otherwise) are being recognized. They should be
identifying new committees not a "number of commits" metric that ignores the individual who
facilitates consensus and merit recognition on our mailing lists.

If a PMC is devoid of such individuals then it is nothing more than a shared code base regardless
of how many new committers are brought in. Those projects exist, but they should not exist
in the ASF where we stand for "community before code".

The current metric, reported quarterly, to a vendor neutral and member elected board is "last
addition of a committer". This is good. When it goes a long time the board should ask "why".
Sometimes its because a project is in maintenance mode (no problem with that) other times
its because a PMC is not recognizing contributions and needs reminding.

Do we really need metrics? Perhaps we need more awareness in our communities about why building
a personal profile in a project is good for both career and community. Then we can help people
build those personal profiles by ensuring we recognizing all contributions that bring stability,
independence and health to a project community.


Twitter: @rgardler

From: Isabel Drost-Fromm <>
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:50:21 AM
Subject: On wearing multiple hats

Pre-text: This conversation started among several members of the ASF, you are
seeing this message here, as it was suggested to have the discussion on a
public mailing list so everyone can participate.


tl;dr: I'm tired of hearing Apache is "where large firms dump code (to break the
market for other or to avoid looking bad for abandoning it", I'm also tired of
hearing that Apache is where projects are controlled by corporate interests
under the disguise of some Apache Way process. I would like to figure out
whether this is actually true based on numbers instead of subjective
perceptions. If it is true I would like to figure out if and how we need to fix

Longer version: Every now and then I hear people complain either privately or
publicly [1] that people working on Apache projects who are not paid to do that
work and have don't have the luxury to participate full-time are facing a hard
time getting into our communities.

Similarly every now and then we see projects running into trademark issues,
conflicts of interest with their employers, trouble with wearing too many hats
[2,3] (though everytime I hear about wearing more than one hat I have to think
of the following lightning talk [4]).

I don't think handwavery statements will get us very far. Maybe it makes sense
to think about the following first:

- If projects are making progress (getting new releases out, getting new
  features implemented, getting bugs and security vulnerabilities addressed), do
  we care about how they are governed? Why do we care if we do? About which
  aspects do we care?

- Given the influx of projects into the incubator (and the number of projects
  making it through) people seem to trust the ASF as a home for their
  communities. What kind of value does that have for us? What is the value we
  are giving back to these projects?

Maybe from there we can come up with stories and metrics that hold (or should
hold) for all of our projects.

Let me provide an example for illustration: In many previous conversations and
talks I stressed that Apache is about communities, that being part of an Apache
project doesn't necessarily mean that the particular human has to contribute
large amounts of code - in the case of Mahout at some point we even had to
communicate that the best way to not be accepted as a GSoC student would be to
propose to implement yet another machine learning algorithm as that would
probably not what the project needed most, nor would it be feasable given the
time frame. Based on that my answer to "do we care about how projects are
governed" would be "yeah, sure we do - our system is based on merit, merit comes
from valuable contributions". The metric I'd setup to test that hypothesis is
true would be to cross-check number of contributions (patches, documentation
fixes and the like) with whether the people making these contributions are
actually being promoted to committer. Makes sense?

Anyone interested in this? Anyone interested in helping get sensible numbers up
- my JIRA magic is seriously lacking...







Sorry for any typos: Mail was typed in vim, written in mutt, via ssh (most likely involving
some kind of mobile connection only.)

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