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From Henri Yandell <>
Subject Re: Author Tags (was: geronimo-dev Digest 12 Aug 2003 07:13:43 -0000 Issue 31)
Date Tue, 12 Aug 2003 10:24:34 GMT

On Tue, 12 Aug 2003, Greg Stein wrote:

> On Tue, Aug 12, 2003 at 07:13:43AM -0000,
> >...
> > From: Henri Yandell <>
> > Subject: Re: Author Tags
> > To:
> > Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003 21:09:13 -0400 (EDT)
> >...
> > Code responsibility means that even though anyone may leap in and hack on
> > a piece, the long term future of a piece of code is the responsibility of
> > known people. Effectively code-ownership [bad] is implementation while
> > code responsibility [good] is design. Author tags signify code
> > responsibility.
> The Project Management Committee (PMC) is responsible for the code. Period.

I think you're warping my use of the word responsible. I take what you say
to mean that the PMC is legally responsible, whereas I am trying to argue
for design responsibility.

In a project such as Geronimo, responsibility is even more important.
There are large tomes of specifications to be met, is it expected that
every committer will be aware of each one? Or will there be small fiefdoms
of groups who are experts on each.

Then again, I was raised in the warped PMC world of Jakarta which still is
not what you envision a PMC as, so it might be that you do mmean that the
PMC makes design decisions.

> Thus, the ASF can defend those developers against any legal attacks on the
> codebase by saying, "they're just following our instructions/desires; they
> did not act independently, so you cannot say they are at fault."

Good point. If having author tags is a liability to the ASF's ability to
legally protect, then I'm all for removing them. Is this something you're
able to say with your Apache hat on so it can become gospel?

> Lastly, recall that the ASF exists to provide a _LONG_TERM_ home to code.

Strengthens my side on @author tags :) CVS is a problematic repository, we
all know that. There is no CVS move. So while the code in some of the
Jakarta Commons packages have moved N times, it has not lost its @author
tags to tell you where it came from. Sometimes the @author is 'The Turbine
Project' etc etc and not a single person.

> Maybe there are reasons to have author tags, but I would *really* discourage
> their use as a mechanism to establish responsibility for any piece of code.

It's not perfect I agree. A nice responsibility document would be best.
For example in Geronimo I'd like to see a document saying which committers
are in charge of which specs.

> I think the real problem that you want to solve is how to build a community
> that cares about the code, no matter who may happen to have contributed it
> in the first place, or who happens to change it the most. To build a
> community where everybody feels responsible for the code, and who feels
> empowered to make the necessary changes.

The real problem is that in my communities the @author tags are
performing a vital role. They're not perfect for that role, but they're
doing the job. I'm happy to lose the tags, but not the role.


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