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From Ross Gardler <rgard...@apache.org>
Subject Re: future of Forrest Friday get togethers
Date Mon, 26 Jun 2006 09:07:41 GMT
David Crossley wrote:

...

> It is now time to assess whether we want to continue.
> I have been wanting to raise this issue for a while
> The discussion at Incubator [2] spurred me.
> 
> Is it successful for us at Apache Forrest?

Success can be measured in two ways:

1) development progress
2) community development

In my opinion, we have achieved no actual development that could not be 
achieved via the mailing lists. In fact, quite the opposite. Our first 
session saw an attempt to create an XHTML2 structure that saw a fair bit 
of work by some people who were able to allocate allot of time to the 
session.

Others who were not able to allocate as much time were unable to comment 
on the approach.

The end result was a spat on how it should be achieved and various paces 
of work were thrown away and there has been no progress on the XHTML2 in 
core work since. [note this is not a complaint about work being thrown 
away, just an acknowledgment that it would not have happened this way if 
discussion had been had onlist first]

Community development also suffered as a result of this.
Ultimately the XHTML2 issues were (IMHO) one of the the root causes of a 
considerable amount of tension within our community, and was the thin 
"end of a wedge" in the development community that is only now starting 
to loose its significance.

It is also true that there has been some valuable community development 
work in these sessions. It is nice to "chat" and this cannot happen as 
easily in email.

It is also true that some valuable discussion regarding approaches to 
technical problems have also been had, but these could, in most cases, 
have occurred in email.

So my view is:

No, it is not sucessfull from a development perspective and it is only 
partially successful from a community perspective.

> Does it enable the whole community to be involved?

We can only speak about this on a personal level. I find it difficult to 
be present for much of the day. Fridays are a busy time for me. When we 
had it on a Tuesday it was better for me, but was worse for the majority.

So given my personal experience, I would say no it does not involve the 
whole community.

> Can we address the concern about the summaries?

It is difficult to write a summary unless you were present during the 
discussions. The logs can be hard to follow. This means they need to be 
written as we "go along" by the people involved.

However, if someone is dropping in for 10 minutes between work 
commitments they are unlikely to use that time to write a summary.

> Should we let it continue?

I will not vote against it continuing but I will not object to it 
stopping either.

My observations above are my pessimistic ones. I believe that if there 
is enough active involvement the FF sessions can be very productive. We 
have learnt a great deal during this experimentation. I was against them 
starting in the first place, but with the lessons I have learnt I think 
we may be able to make it work if we really want to.

The question is, do we really want to?

I'm -0 on continuing with them in their current form, but I would like 
to suggest an alternative approach.

Have shorter sessions, say 2 hours. With a much tighter set of 
objectives, for example, one or two related issues that need resolving 
or preparing for a release.

One week before the session call a vote as to whether we will run the 
session. To proceed a session would need a minimum of three +1, meaning 
the voters will attend for the full 2 hours, and no -1, meaning the 
voter wants to attend that session but cannot.

In addition, one of the attendees must commit to writing a summary 
immediately after the session, (this could be done collaboratively 
during the session using Guppy or similar - it works on mac now I think)

During the session discussion is limited to the identified issues and 
social chat. Anything else is deemed off topic and moved to the mailing 
list.

We can keep a list of topics we want to tackle on an FF and vote for 
more than one each month, the one with the highest attendance will be 
the one to go ahead. This way we ensure maximum community involvement.

I feel a tighter focus and a shorter time frame will make it easier for 
people to participate effectively, it will also prevent problems such as 
the different XHTML2 solutions from occurring since someone with a 
vested interest can vote -1 on a session if they are unable to attend.

> People other than the Forrest PMC can also help with
> this decision. What is your experience?

This is very important. If the community do not feel involved then I 
would be against continuing in any form.

Ross

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