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From Dave Fisher <>
Subject Re: on "meritocracy"
Date Fri, 22 Mar 2019 17:55:58 GMT
Hi Naomi,

Thanks for (re)starting this discussion. I’ve come to agree that there are serious problems
with the word “meritocracy”. Everyone and every culture brings their own ever evolving
definition. I brought up the Incubator because mentoring new podlings currently includes teaching
that the ASF is a meritocracy and often pushing these projects into actually having discussions
about which contributors should be invited to be committers and/or PPMC members. They each
achieve their own “bar” for this. Some are “higher" and some “lower”. The ones that
set a higher bar may be projects that will never grow enough to be sustainable and diverse
enough to withstand the natural attrition of the “volunteers” that are currently driving
the project.

To me the “non-expiring merit” that should be identified by an Apache Project Community
is those who show that they “care" and willingly, regularly make even small contributions
to the community. This can be as “insignificant” (to those who set a high bar) as answering
user questions with regularity. 

I don’t know if there is a single word for it, but I think we should be looking for those
who willingly contribute in an Open, Sharing, Diverse, Inclusive, and Sustainable way. In
many projects there have been moments when a Meritorious, High Energy, Driving person has
become poisonous to that community and has needed to be driven away. This is never a fun process.
A sustainable community that recognizes small contributions and grows volunteers can survive
this. If not then the project is headed to the Attic or will be forked.

I agree with Rich that having this discussion with membership will encounter a fair amount
of pushback (and filibustering in the 19th century sense of the word)


> On Mar 22, 2019, at 10:06 AM, Naomi Slater <> wrote:
> agreed re "do-ocracy"
> 1) like Patricia points out, like "meritocracy", it presupposes our past
> and future ability implement such a system
> 2) even if we *have* been successful at implementing such a system, is that
> really enough for us, from an ideological perspective? are we not concerned
> with who *isn't* contributing, and why? what we can do about it, etc, etc
> this is why I think it's important to separate this into to components: (a)
> a statement about what we want to achieve that explicitly acknowledges the
> potential for bias and discrimination, and (b) practical
> information/guidance that helps us work towards that
> On Fri, 22 Mar 2019 at 17:59, Rich Bowen <> wrote:
>> On 3/22/19 3:03 AM, Roman Shaposhnik wrote:
>>> It would be very important to come up with a replacement that is
>>> as effective as what we're trying to replace. Frankly, I don't know
>>> a single candidate.
>> As discussed elsewhere in the thread, simply coming up with a new word,
>> while potentially helpful in starting conversations, doesn't really
>> address the underlying problem. And each new word (do-ocracy is one that
>> has been proposed, for example) comes with its own set of concerns and
>> baggage.
>> We have had the "what other word can we use" conversation at least once
>> on this mailing list, and at least one on members, in the last 2 years.
>> Neither conversation resulted in anything actionable.
>> --
>> Rich Bowen -
>> @rbowen
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