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From Daniel John Debrunner <...@apache.org>
Subject Re: New contributors?
Date Thu, 07 Sep 2006 00:16:52 GMT
Susan L. Cline wrote:

> Hello Derby-dev, 
> I'm writing to point out an experience which discouraged me about growing our community
with new
> contributors. 
> Recently I submitted a patch for a JUnit test.   I have contributed very few patches
in the form
> of code to Derby (I've had just a couple for the Eclipse plug-ins.)  I am not a Java
developer by
> trade or training, but I have contributed to the Derby community by writing 
> articles, sample applications and some wiki entries. 
> My JUnit contribution received comments by two different folks.  I believe that some
of the
> comments were valid and helpful to me to improve my programming skills and also to help
> that the test I wrote was readable and understandable, as well as to fit into the constraints
> JUnit imposes as well as the Derby test harness. 
> However, I feel that some of the comments were more style-related or were nits that the
> reviewer had.  This is where I feel discouraged. 

As one of the reviewers I'm sorry you felt discouraged, that was never
my intention and I'm sure it wasn't Kristian's (as the other reviewer).

Looking back at the set of comments I can see comments about various
style issues, but to my reading none of them seem to say "you must do it
my way", in fact they include phrases like "Maybe a style issue, but I
prefer not to have constants like", and "2 and 3 are nits, use your own
judgement. ". I personally could use help to know exactly what
discouraged you, so that any review comments in the future would not
discourage contributors.

> One of the biggest goals I think we have is to
> embrace contributors (and therefore their contributions) and to guide them 
> where it is necessary, but also to accept contributions that represent "incremental work."
> I think when someone makes a contribution it has something to do with that individuals
"itch".  In
> this case I thought it would be fun to learn JUnit and become more familiar with the

> Derby test harness, and that was my itch.
> I am fortunate in that I am paid to work on Derby, but I think of other individuals who
are not
> paid to work on Derby.  If they make a contribution which is not accepted, partially
due to style
> issues, how likely are we to get new contributors?   Again, I'm not saying that I wrote
> perfect test and others are not welcome to comment on my code, but on the other hand
if we make
> the barrier to contribute (and it was just a test!) this high, how likely are we to get
> contributions from individuals who have a lesser stake in Derby than their own livelihood?

I agree it would be very bad if the Derby community did not accept
patches that practiced incremental development, or based upon style
issues. I don't think that has ever happened.

I guess I'm a little confused by your last two paragraphs, the community
should "guide them" in the first paragraph, which is what I thought the
review comments were, but in the second paragraph it seems you view the
same review comments as a barrier.

Since Apache is a peer based community, maybe it should be made clearer
that reviewers' comments are just "their comments", the contributor
doesn't have to follow all, or even any, of the advice. Any committer
can commit any patch that they "have a high degree of confidence in".

In my opinion a committer may gain confidence in a patch by requesting
certain changes in it through review comments. If those changes don't
happen or partially happen, then committer can re-evaluate their
confidence level in the patch, possibly leading to committing the patch.
If the committer decides not to commit the patch, then it's possible
they may modify it to have confidence in it and then submit it, though
this might occur much later when the committer (or anyone else) has time.


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