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From "Matt Kurjanowicz" <>
Subject RE: committer process
Date Fri, 12 Sep 2003 00:00:14 GMT
Even as a newcomer to the "apache way," I think that Greg's comments
make very much sense and seem fairer to the community as a whole in two
big important ways:
1) It allows the PMC to discuss the merits of a contributor openly
without fear of offending that contributor, possibly avoiding a
disastrous situation.  If a new committer is added without thorough
discussion of the committer's attributes, a committer may be added that
does not have the proper merits to help out the community as a
committer.  AFAIK, unlike jobs which have contracts and the like, Open
Source is a completely volunteer saying "we don't want
you anymore" is a little harder to do.

2) IMHO, Open Source projects rely on a healthy community and a strong
contributor base, both of which could be ruined by a public discussion
of the merits of a person - we all have feelings and can get offended,
AND, this could turn off would-be contributors ("Do I really want to
have my merits discussed in front of the entire community, which may be
thousands of people?").  If a contributor is openly offended on the
group, (s)he may or may not decide to stop contributing...which may be a
valuable loss to the community.

On that note, +1 to the comments below.

Just my 2 cents,
mkurjano at

-----Original Message-----
From: Greg Stein [] 
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2003 7:41 PM
Subject: committer process

On Wed, Sep 10, 2003 at 06:02:51PM -0000, wrote:
> From: "Jeremy Boynes" <>
> Subject: [vote] Process for adding committers
> To: <>
> Cc: <>
> Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 10:21:21 -0700
> With two options on the table, I think we need to put this to bed
quickly so
> I am calling for a vote between the two following options:
> Option #1 from Davanum Srinivas:
> Option #2 from Ryan Ackley:

I believe both of these are incorrect forms for voting in new
My original statement was:

> I would recommend coming up with, say, a list of four people and
> that list to pmc@incubator for consideration. How about by end of

The implied part here is that you're sending a list to the PMC. The PMC
then decides *in private* on whether to add the new committers, and

Currently, there are two general forms of adding committers at the ASF.
believe one works, and the other fails.

1) httpd/apr style: somebody on the PMC sends a nomination to the PMC
   and the PMC votes privately.

2) jakarta style: a committer sends a nomination/vote to the public dev
   list and the other committers vote publicly.

There are two primary differences (and problems) here:
a) public vs private voting
b) committers vs PMC members

With regard to (a), the biggest issue is that you will *very* rarely see
any -1 votes. People just don't want to do that in public. Especially in
healthy and cooperative community. It is very hard for somebody to say,
"yes, they're good, but they just don't "get it" very well." What'll
happen is that they'll simply abstain. Or maybe vote, but without
And dropping the comments means that other people don't get a chance to
consider those words and how they feel about them, and whether they may
resonate with those thoughts and want to change their own vote.

Public votes about *people* just don't work. That needs to be done
privately for it to be successful. This is exactly why most countries
secret ballots: to avoid repercussions against how people vote.

With regard to (b), the set of committers does not always match the set
people who are *responsible*. The Jakarta project is pretty bad about
this: the set of committers is way larger than those responsible (the
PMC). Within the Incubator, the separation is actually quite prevalent:
the committers are generally not on the PMC, yet the PMC is the group
is responsible for this project. By moving the vote explicitly onto the
PMC's private mailing list, you are putting the vote in front of the
people who are ultimately responsible.

In my experience, I have seen *many* private votes raise concerns which
are very valid. The usual result from these "edge" cases is that the
simply decides to wait for a while and see where things go (with some
coaching for the person to help them remedy the concern). But I have
seen a public vote raise the same kinds of concerns and the resulting
discussion. Mostly out of consideration for the feelings of the nominee,
but also so that the "contrary" position-holder is not embarrassed to
their concerns. Net result: I see the private form succeed, and the
one fail.

Consider the situation where somebody who gets voted in as a committer
the public mechanism. Since there isn't any real strong way to vote
*against* a person, then they will usually end up as a committer. Almost
by default. All you need is a *single* person to put a nomination out
there, and "ta-da!" you're in. Now what happens when you discover that
really was a mistake. That you didn't have an opportunity to discuss the
problems with that committer. Now you have the unfortunate task of
figuring out how to fix that committer, or to remove their access. And
trust me: you *REALLY* don't want to go down that path. It is so
incredibly painful, that you want to have a very high confidence that
you make somebody a committer, that they will make for a great
While the "six month rule" doesn't truly exist, it is a very good
benchmark for being able to see how somebody interacts with the
over a long period of time, to see whether they are dedicated, and to
get a good look at the quality of their code.

The process of voting in new committers is a choice of the PMC. In this
case, that is the Incubator PMC. *However*, the intent is that the
Geronimo project will receive its own PMC which means that it will be
to define whatever process it would like. Thus, I think the Incubator
will defer to the community to choose the process that it would liek to
use. They will certainly help the community to choose a process that
in with the meritocratic principles of the ASF, and to show some of the
forms in use at the ASF.

I would request that the community also considers and votes on my
to use a private voting system. The mechanics of that would be a private
email to the PMC to nominate somebody for commit access.


-- ... ASF Chairman ...

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