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From David Crossley <>
Subject Re: How to become a Forrest committer
Date Fri, 29 Jul 2005 05:00:42 GMT
Ross Gardler wrote:
> As you know I met with many of the Forrest Devs for the first time at
> Apachecon last week. One of the things discussed was how do we immerse 
> our Google Summer of Code participant and other new arrivals on the dev 
> list in the ways of the community. Here is my starter on how to do that, 
> it is my attempt to describe what *I* see as the "ideal" path from being 
> a "mere" user to being a leader within the community.

[ snip lots of good stuff for brevity's sake. ]

> There is nothing within Apache that says you must write code in order to 
> be a committer. Anyone who is supportive of the community and works in 
> any of the CoPDoC areas is a likely candidate for committership.
> Apache is a meritocracy. That is once someone has contributed
> sufficiently to any area of CoPDoC can be voted in as a committer. Being 
> a committer does not mean you commit code, it means you are committed to 
> the project.
> One of the key contributions people can make to the community is through
> the support of a wide user base by assisting users on the user list,
> writing user oriented docs and ensuring the user viewpoint is understood 
> by all devs.
> Why is this so important? Consider this diagram from Danese Coopers
> presentation at ApacheCon:
>                             .
>                           /   \
>                          /     \
>                         /Leaders\
>                        /---------\
>                       /Innovators \
>                      /-------------\
>                     /  Committers   \
>                    /-----------------\
>                   /       Users       \
>                  /---------------------\
> This diagram is intended to illustrate that an Open Source project
> requires a very wide user base to generate an adequate number of
> committers. In addition, many committers are needed to attract a 
> sufficient number of innovators to ensure the project continues to 
> progress with respect to its feature set. Finally, there needs to be a 
> number of Innovators in order to ensure there are a sufficient number of 
> Leaders to do the boring day to day jobs of managing the project and 
> keeping it lively and healthy.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Although this looks like a hierarchical structure it is important to 
> realise that Apache is not a hierarchical organisation. We are a 
> meritocracy and once you have earned the right to be a committer you 
> have the same authority as anyone else. Even before being made a 
> committer the community will usually take your opinions very seriously, 
> after all it is by expressing your valued opinions and developing the 
> community understanding that you earn the right to become a committer.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------

A few comments to reinforce Ross' notes and qualifications:

I find that diagram to be very dangerous. Any shape that
has pointy bits at the top is misleading. The label
"Leaders" is particularly bad. Perhaps a better term
would be "Mentors", i.e. those who help others to
understand the way we do things at the ASF. The ideal
is to broaden and merge the layers so that everyone
becomes a mentor and assists each other. That is what
i look for when inviting new committers: their ability
to be a mentor and to work cooperatively with their peers.

And i don't want to see "committers" treated as a separate
layer. So i would like to redraw the diagram as below,
with meritocracy [1] being the force which tends to merge
the layers and cause the walls to become more vertical.

                        /         \
                       /  Mentors  \
                      /             \
                     /  Developers   \
                    /                 \
                   /       Users       \


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