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From Jukka Zitting <jukka.zitt...@gmail.com>
Subject Re: Actively retiring projects
Date Sun, 15 Jan 2012 12:12:47 GMT
Hi,

On Sun, Jan 15, 2012 at 11:49 AM, ant elder <ant.elder@gmail.com> wrote:
> I accept there might be some poddlings where the mentors are AWOL but
> most of the ones I know of the mentors are actually paying attention
> but there is only so much mentors can do if the poddling isn't very
> active.

Right, a mentor that just takes care of the responsibilities described
in [1] can't do much in such a case. However, a mentor with experience
in growing open source communities and willingness to share it (plus
the required time and energy) can do much more. Projects like PDFBox
or River are living examples of how active mentoring can turn around
the fortunes of a project.

Most of the cases I've been involved so far of podlings in the "hoping
some more people come along" have had symptoms of the project team not
paying enough attention on making it easy for new contributors to show
up and stick around.  Things like complex and undocumented build
steps, missing "Getting started" or "Getting involved" guides, lack of
quick and positive feedback to newcomers, etc., are all too common.
Fixing even just some of such things will dramatically increase the
odds of new people showing up.

Those are things that are very easy to overlook when you're working on
your first open source projects (it took me years to learn those
lessons), but we here have a massive amount of collective experience
on such things. That's what we could and IMHO should be sharing with
the podlings. That's what "mentoring" to me is about and that's where
our most precious "added value" is. Otherwise incubation just boils
down to an indoctrination period on how to apply and conform to the
various Apache rules and policies.

> Sam, from your comments I take it that you think the Incubator should
> be doing more in those situations, what else should we do with those
> type of poddlings?

As outlined above, I think there's a lot more we could collectively do
to help such podlings. In the recent years we've spent a lot of time
focusing on procedural and legal details, while community building and
social dynamics haven't gotten much attention. Perhaps we should start
looking at how to build up that aspect of the Incubator, possibly in
cooperation with ComDev as already mentioned.

Instead of introducing new rules and responsibilities to address this
issue, I think what we could do is to start collecting things like
case studies and best practices from podlings that have managed to
solve commonly seen issues. Or we could form a "community building
task force" of say a few volunteers who could be called in to help
podlings that have trouble with this. Or something else; I think
there's a lot of opportunities for improvement here.

[1] http://incubator.apache.org/incubation/Roles_and_Responsibilities.html#Mentor

BR,

Jukka Zitting

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