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From Ross Gardler <rgard...@apache.org>
Subject Re: svn commit: r386854 - /forrest/trunk/site-author/content/xdocs/guidelines.xml
Date Sat, 18 Mar 2006 20:08:07 GMT
crossley@apache.org wrote:
> Author: crossley
> Date: Sat Mar 18 07:14:25 2006
> New Revision: 386854
> 
> URL: http://svn.apache.org/viewcvs?rev=386854&view=rev
> Log:
> Expanded our definition of the Apache Way. Please amend if you think that
> you can do better.

Thanks David. I can't do better but I would like to make some *general* 
observations.

For the benefit of all readers, let me stress the word *general* again, 
these observations have nothing to do any specific incidents or any 
specific individuals here in Forrest (other than one specific reference, 
which is clearly noted), they are just general observations that  I have 
drawn from many years of experience in Open Source Software and Open 
Development in various forms.

For some context with respect to other forms of Open Development I refer 
to readers should know that I also have a background in academic 
research, which is often an Open Process, involving researchers from 
multiple backgrounds, nationalities, industries, universities and 
companies. The academic open processes, unlike open source software 
development, has  many *hundreds* of years of process development. 
During that time some fairly rigorous conventions for the recognition of 
individuals in a open research project have been developed.

Whilst these open development processes are not directly transferable to 
Open Source Software, I think there are some transferable lessons.

Now to my observation. Davids definition of the "Apache Way" is very 
good, IMHO. Let me highlight one specific part...

> + to ensure that each contributor is recognised and
> +      feels a productive part of the community; to encourage diversity;

I think this is the "sticking point" in any open development. The 
problem is that it is natural for individuals to feel that recognition 
involves seeing their name in lights.

In an Open Source Project, or more importantly, a project developed 
using an open process, such as Forrest, most contributions of actual 
code are supported by, or at least *should* be supported by, design 
discussion, oversight, testing, documentation, bug fixes and much more. 
No code contribution is an independent unit of work (or should not be). 
It is therefore impossible to credit individual contributors, it is 
simply unmanageable, even if it is possible to identify each part of a 
contribution.

These observations have been made many times on this list. Most recently 
they have been been referred to as FUD, and as individual opinion. Let 
me be absolutely clear, in my (not so humble) opinion, this is *not* 
FUD. It is an observation informed by many years of experience within 
Open Source and Open Development communities. Further, it is an 
observation repeated by many such experienced individuals both here in 
Forrest and across the ASF as a whole.

Could I/we be wrong? Yes, of course I/we can. Nevertheless, I restate my 
conviction that the current meritocracy process is recognition enough in 
a healthy community. This meritocracy process is amazingly similar to 
the academic research meritocracy in which people are awarded titles in 
recognition of their contributions to their field.

Perhaps, more importantly...

Whilst Forrest is a great tool, it is unlikely to go down as an 
important advancement in the development of computer software.

Is there really anything in here that is such a leap forward that we 
need to claim individual ownership?

If there is, then we can trust to history to figure out who gets the 
credit. That is the point of an Open Development process, everything is 
documented and openly available.

Since I find myself repeating myself, I ought to shut up until someone 
comes up with an argument that is convincing to me.

Ross

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