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From Jukka Zitting <>
Subject Re: Incubation capacity
Date Mon, 12 Oct 2015 21:13:06 GMT

On Mon, Oct 12, 2015 at 2:50 PM Marvin Humphrey <> wrote:
> On Mon, Oct 12, 2015 at 8:08 AM, Jukka Zitting <> wrote:
> > It sounds like ruminations about the Incubator are on the increase again,
> I hope that we can make use of some of this bursting energy and channel it
> into incremental improvements.
> The Incubator is a stable platform, and it has been functioning well by
> historical terms, and with blessedly low drama compared to a few years ago.
> My impression is that frustration with the institutional resistance of
> Incubator to change is skewing impressions of how well it is doing its job of
> incubating podlings.

Yes, we're far from the drama of 2011.

> > I believe the way the Incubator is organized sets an upper bound on the
> > number of podlings it can effectively manage. Based on experience and
> > historical data ( *) I believe this
> > limit is somewhere around 30 podlings.
> I'm curious, Jukka.  Why 30?

I don't have a firm theory on why this is happening, only some key observations:

* The entry rate of new podlings has been amazingly constant
throughout the existence of the Incubator even though the total number
of open source projects has been growing exponentially for much of
this time.

* The "limit" was first reached in 2006 during which the board first
pushed back on Incubator reports and the current monthly 1/3 reporting
schedule was adopted and the process of retiring dormant podlings was

* The Incubator stayed at or slightly above the 30 podlings limit
until around mid-2010 after which many podlings started getting stuck,
leading to the crisis of late 2011.

* We solved that problem with a concentrated effort in 2012 that
brought the Incubator back to around 30 active podlings, a level that
stayed mostly stable for the next two years.

* The number of current podlings is again growing, and some of the
issues that have shown up recently remind me of the problems seen five
years ago.

It could be that I'm just selectively interpreting history to match my
theory, but from a systems perspective it does look as if the
Incubator indeed has a structural bandwidth cap that probably feeds
into and limits the entry rate.

>  What are the scarce resources?

Some possible answers:

* Mailing list. There is only so much general@ traffic that a single
IPMC member can reasonably process without starting to skip
significant parts.

* Mentors. The growth rate of the IPMC is fairly constant and, with
most members becoming inactive over time, I believe the number of
active mentors has not grown too much over the years.

* Chair/Report Manager. Someone still needs to pay attention to
everything that's going around, which I believe you and all other
recent chairs agree is a daunting task.

One could run some numbers to better quantify the above possibilities.

> And how is this supposed degradation manifesting?

The noise got loud enough to wake me up. :-) I don't have hard
numbers, but we do have a couple of recent failures and it sounds like
some people are getting concerned, which does remind me of early 2011.
Of course the one thing you can learn from history is that things are
never quite the same.

> Additionally, I'll note that while we're at 43 or so podlings right now, we
> have multiple podlings about to retire (Droids, Kalumet, likely Corinthia) and
> others about to graduate (Kylin, Groovy).

Right, this might be just a fluke.


Jukka Zitting

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