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From "Jean T. Anderson" <...@bristowhill.com>
Subject Re: New contributors?
Date Thu, 07 Sep 2006 18:48:55 GMT
Daniel John Debrunner wrote:
> Susan L. Cline wrote:
...
>>This is a somewhat rhetorical question, but should it be the responsibility of the

>>contributor to address all the comments of different committers? I would imagine this
>>boils down to the desire the contributor has to getting his or her patch committed,
>>which again, I see as a barrier to contribution.
> 
> The contributor is in the best position to address comments from
> reviewers, thus it makes most sense for them to do it. However, the
> comments should be seen as that, not "action items" that are required
> for a patch. 

It might be helpful for reviewers to clearly separate "must fix" items
from "nice to have" items in their comments.

> A contributor should be free to challenge or discuss any
> comment, rather than assume the reviewer is correct. On some of the
> style issues I raised, related to clarity, I did ask the question "do
> they add value?". By "add value", I really meant does it increase the
> clarity of the code? In such cases a contributor is free to come back
> and say in their opinion it does and why, and maybe the reviewer and
> community learns something as well, it's a two way street.

If we want to encourage new contributors to contribute to Derby, we need
to make sure that the two way street doesn't involving throwing down the
gauntlet to a new contributor -- otherwise, we'll simply chase new
contributors away.

The need to defend a patch can be quite a surprise to new contributors
who might think that the several days or hours they spend producing
something will be appreciated, but find they need to pour extra time
into defending it. (I'm thinking of other contacts I've had at Apache on
this topic, not necessarily the specific feedback Susan gave.) I think
we can help by separating the "must fix" items from the "nice to have"
items so the feedback doesn't become overwhelming.

Getting the patch actually committed can be its own gauntlet. This is
getting beyond the intent of Susan's original post, but even posting
that patch to begin with can be intimidating. I have in mind a post to
women@ back in May in which the poster wrote [1]:

| The barrier to entry, at least for the project I know, is
unnecessarily high. A
| meritocracy should reward merit - valuable contributions.
Unfortunately, at
| present, it's a merit-and-confidence-ocracy - valuable contributions
just won't
| be seen, if people don't have the confidence to post them in the first
place,
| and continually plug themselves thereafter.

If we want new Derby contributors, I think we should do everything we
can to encourage and increase the confidence of new contributors. Yes,
there will be items to fix in patches. Let's make an extra effort to be
clear about what's required and what's nice to have.

> It's also valid for the contributor to say, those are great ideas, I
> don't have time to address them now. Then it's up to the committers to
> decide if one of them has the confidence in the patch.

I would encourage reviewers to be proactive with new contributors -- for
example, in your "nice to have" items go ahead and mention that those
don't have to be done before the patch is committed if the contributor
doesn't have time. Don't assume that the new contributor is fully versed
in life at Apache. Make this a confidence-building opportunity.

> Another interesting point is that any reviewer or committer looking at
> the patch do not own it in any way, while some discussion is going on
> between a reviewers and or committers and a contributor about a patch,
> it's fine to another committer to say enough and just commit it.

And it's also fine for somebody else to improve on that work later. The
original contributor doesn't have to incorporate all the "nice to have"
items. Maybe somebody else (the reviewer?) will have the itch to do some
of those.

> Interesting comment about "barrier to contribution" and "desire to get a
> a patch committed". To grow a community we need contributors that are
> willing to follow the Apache way, work with the community to a common
> consensus, thus resolve and discuss reviewers' comments. There's also a
> place for "hit & run" contributors, who provide patches in any state and
> disappear, but those contributors are not going to grow the community.

So here are the 6 principles of the Apache Way drawn out by
http://www.apache.org/foundation/how-it-works.html#management :

    * collaborative software development
    * commercial-friendly standard license
    * consistently high quality software
    * respectful, honest, technical-based interaction
    * faithful implementation of standards
    * security as a mandatory feature

I would include the need to defend a patch as part of that "respectful,
honest, technical-based interaction", but this process can become quite
aggressive at Apache and personally I don't believe that aggression is
part of the "Apache Way" (actually, I think it *was* part of the
original Apaches). I think it's just behavior that a lot of projects
exhibit for whatever reason, mostly social and demographic, and often
because the volunteers reviewing and committing patches have a finite
amount of time.

> Thanks for bringing this issue out for discussion,

indeed!

 -jean

[1]
http://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/www-women/200605.mbox/%3c20060521225909.GA20525@dochas.stdlib.net%3e


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