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From Ross Gardler <>
Subject Re: should podlings have informal chairs?
Date Tue, 22 Nov 2011 16:30:44 GMT
On 22 November 2011 14:08, Christian Grobmeier <> wrote:
> On Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 2:03 AM, Joe Schaefer <> wrote:
>> To me a lot of the problem stems from the fact that the reports are
>> misdirected- instead of informing the board about the activities of
>> the IPMC, it tells them about the podling's activities, which doesn't
>> scale properly.
>> We should be reporting to the board about OUR work, not the work of
>> the podlings.  Podlings should only be brought in for a few specific
>> examplesto mention.  That's the first thing to correct.
> I really don't see a huge report actually. What are we doing?
> - we vote podlings in and do some discussions on them. Thats already
> on the report
> - from time to time we work on the website. This is/was on the report too.
> So what else do we do?

Personally I think that if someone signs up as a mentor it is an
indicator that they have some interest in the project succeeding.  If
this is the case then it is not unreasonable to expect a mentor to
take an *active* interest in the projects success.

That isn't to say that they should do the work, nor am I suggesting
that they should be seen as anything other than volunteers.

When I look at what I do for some of my podlings I realise I am
involved with way too many. Consequently there are a couple that, in
reality I do nothing useful on. There are a couple more where I'm just
watching the subject lines, dipping in occasional to shot from the
sidelines and making sure reports get written and signed off (more on
that later). Finally, there are those that I am quite heavily invested

Do I make a good mentor on those I do nothing for? No.

Do I make a good mentor on those I just process paperwork for? Maybe,
I do read the reports and give feedback to the community as a mentor
(more on that later). But since I'm not really watching the project
closely so that feedback is generic and possibly not too useful.

Do I make a good mentor on those I am engaged with? You'd have to ask
those communities that ;-)

The question, for me is, what makes a good balance of mentors? Having
someone fully engaged is great, but I like to know that at least one
other mentor is watching over my shoulder. Having just one person in
the middle category is dangerous - what if they are not available?
Having three in the first category is bad.

The IPMC should, in my opinion, be monitoring the health of the
mentoring activties in order to provide their own advice and guidance
where appropriate. Intervention would be rare, but occasionally
necessary. This is exactly what the board does with its board reports.

My only concern with this plan is whether this makes the IPMC, with
its appointed reviewers, a mini-board with the IPMC membersip being
the equivalent of members@ to the ASF board. We've avoided these
structures since Jakarta days.

> But how can you, as mentor, help with community building (hope I got
> this right). Just because a mentor says "thou shalt build up a
> community" this will not cause people to do it. I have had tried that
> out, but it doesn't work. It depends on the podling people, not on the
> mentors.

Again, I assume that mentors only sign up because they see some value
in the project. Why then is not reasonable to expect mentors to help
with the community building?

What is the minimum a mentor can do to help community building? At the
very least a mentor should say "hey, your report only contains
technical information, we're not really interested in that, we want to
see what you are doing about community building - that's what makes a
successful Apache project". I've found that this usually prompts the
question "well what should we say" and then we have a dialogue drawing
on the projects domain expertise and the mentors experience of
community building in Apache projects.

In my opinion it is harmful for mentors to roll up once a quarter and
sign off on a report that has no community content at all, yet I see
that in podling reports every month. At the ASF we say "community over
code"? (some pefer "community before code") shouldn't mentors be
saying that to podlings and helping them understand what it means to
build (not just manage) a community project?

>> I think the review needs to take place
>> over a few days, on the podling's own dev lists, by 3 IPMC members actively voting
>> on them.  We can still collate the podling reports on the wiki, but the report we
>> hand to the board should come from us, and it should be the product of those reviews.
> How does that look like? A podling says, we work to increase community
> participation. How can one say this is not the case - because what
> actually does "work on increasing community participation" mean. Other
> thing mentioned often is: "we work towards a new release". I doubt a
> mentor will find different, if a podling writes this on the report.

I (try) not to let my podlings get away with "we work to increase
community" or "we work towards a release". I ask for things like  "In
the lastquarter we have done X, Y and Z in order to try and build
community, the effects were..." or "we still need to resolve a couple
of licence conflicts before we can release, see JIRA-123"

I'm not always interested in what the report actually says (although
sometimes it is revealing) I'm more interested in the thoughts and
conversations that result from such a request.

> The IPMC is the only project I know at
> the ASF which is not really community.

A good and important observation. Especially when we consider that it
is the first ASF wide "community" podlings experience.


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