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From Alex Harui <aha...@adobe.com>
Subject Re: my pTLP view
Date Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:05:10 GMT


On 1/23/15, 6:53 AM, "jan i" <jani@apache.org> wrote:
>
>I agree with everything else you write, but the demand for "only ASF
>Members" seems very hard. If I come to ASF with a community and a project,
>I really would feel unhappy being cut out of the loop

Time for my weekly musings.  Sorry, no oaths and anthems this week.

I agree with Jan I.  Thinking back only a few years to when I was new to
Apache and going through the incubator, if the original PMC was comprised
only of seasoned ASF folks, I would have felt more like those ASF folks
were my managers and been more passive about learning about Apache because
I would expect these authority figures to train me.  Sometimes the better
way to learn is by doing.  IMO, it is better to make folks who really have
a stake in the success of the project feel that responsibility.

To me, that’s the problem I’ve having with all of these proposals.  They
seem too “top-down”, like the podling is a baby in need of true
incubation, like hand-holding and feeding.  Really, a podling is made up
of adults and “all" I think you really need is to make it clear to
newcomers that there is a different culture at Apache and that you are
expected to understand it, exercise it, and propagate it to latecomers in
order to become a full Apache project.  I just think that coddling
newcomers takes the risk of creating newcomers that can’t stand on their
own legs.  IMO, you want to test the newcomers to make sure they can
perform autonomously and proactively.

Maybe instead of the name “Incubator” we should call it “University”.
Lots of businesses send new employees to a “University” where corporate
culture is part of the lessons. But even that is “top-down” like you are
expected to go to class.  How about “Driving School”?  In driving school
you drive the car and get advice.  The instructor only takes control in an
emergency.  And the culture around driving, the “unwritten rules of the
road” that aren’t in the instruction manual, is part of what you learn
while you are doing.

New Apache instruction manuals are being written by Marvin and Bertrand et
al, so the rest comes down to “How do you teach culture?”  I’ve never
moved to another country to live, but I would argue that I had to learn a
new culture when I left my west coast high school and went to Boston for
college.  You can write up your culture and folks can read it, but a lot
of it just comes from trying it and being corrected as soon as possible,
hopefully in a nice way.


So let the newcomers drive.  Now, how do you make sure there is an
instructor in the car, that instructors are paying attention, and are
teaching the right rules?  If your driving instructor is a New York City
cab driver, you would get a decidedly different outcome than if the
driving instructor was my mom.  I think I’m hearing in these threads that
there is too much variance in the instruction at Apache.  Culling back to
a core that truly gets it and training new instructors might be required
if that’s true.

In driving school, the instructor in the car has a significant stake in
the outcome.  He/she truly has “skin in the game”.  I don’t see any easy
way for our mentors to have the same stake, especially given they are
volunteers.

In real communities, cultural errors are caught by the villagers being
embedded.  They see you doing something you shouldn’t take you aside and
tell you what you need to do differently.  The thing is, there are usually
few newcomers and lots of villagers.  New projects usually overwhelm the
villagers/mentors with new folks.  Maybe a solution is even more ASF folks
on each podling’s list.  Sure that dilutes responsibility, but with
volunteers, responsibility is always difficult to require.
Volunteer-staffed house-building project coordinators don’t try to find a
few volunteers to commit whole days, they try to find dozens of volunteers
knowing each might only hammer a few nails before leaving, but
collectively things get done.

The Incubator has one solution in place already.  Certain podling tasks
require notification before you get started on them and final approval
when you finish.  Maybe more podling tasks like report writing and
discussing potential committers need to follow the same pattern. Maybe
podlings should be encouraged to notify the incubator when the temperature
of a discussion rises, or maybe we need a tool that notifies the
villagers/incubators/members when any podling thread grows over 10 posts.

And if you have the right notifications, you get one other benefit.  If a
podling doesn’t emit any notifications for a while, you can assume
something is wrong there, even if their board report implies differently.

So:

-Whether there is a separate group called Incubator or anything else to
offload the board regarding report collection and review should be purely
a decision of load balancing.  If the board has time then you don’t need a
subcommittee, if not, create one.
-That group might be better organized as a subcommittee than a project if
it isn’t going to operate like a project
-If culture is important, then you need to designate a group of folks who
can certify that you “get it”.  It could be the ASF members, but I’m not
sure all members “get it”.  Or maybe it is some smaller group.  It could
be the current Incubator folks.
-Make it clear to newcomers that there is a different culture.  I don’t
think I see that emphasized when new projects knock on our door.  When I
came in, I knew there was this thing called meritocracy, but I did not
know about the “no hierarchy”, bias towards consensus vs voting, voting
rules or source-only-releases and more and that these things were also
important.
-Consider experimenting with having more casual observers from this group
of cultural advisors than having fewer committed ones.
-See if required notifications for more things can help keep track of new
communities.

-Alex



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