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From Andrew Jaquith <>
Subject Re: author-tags Was: Trunk is now open for 2.8 stuff.
Date Mon, 31 Mar 2008 18:33:27 GMT

The changes we're talking about beg the question: "what's the problem  
we are trying to solve?"

In an earlier e-mail, I noted that the "we need to do what Apache  
does" argument is bogus because Apache projects DO use @author tags...  
or putting it another way, they don't remove them consistently. I'm  
happy to furnish dozens, if not hundreds, of examples of @author tags  
in the Tomcat  project if you need further convincing.

Equally bogus is the "the authors might get sued if we leave them in"  
argument, because it ignores the reality of how modern e-discovery is  
done. There are lots of ways to find people to sue, for example  
trolling through the jspwiki-dev mailing list.

The "we are a community so we have to release community projects  
without attribution" reason is NOT bogus, but it IS mighty  
presumptive. I joined the JSPWiki dev team to have fun and make a  
personal difference, not because I wanted to be part of Apache PER SE  
(though I like that too).

Here's the bottom line. There are two geniune, defensible reasons for  
keeping @author tags in the code:
- Personal attribution/pride
- Helping to establish expertise ("archaeology") for fixes, in  
combination with commit tags

There are also two geniune, defensible reasons to remove them:
- When lineage of authorship is diffuse, or uncertain
- When an author does not want to attract unwanted e-mails about the  

I seems to me that these reasons all point to personal decisions, and  
should be made at time of commit. So I agree with Harry. I don't think  
this is something we should legislate. The list of authors is quite  
small, and the committers even smaller. It seems to me a laissez-faire  
policy would work best.


On Mar 31, 2008, at 2:00 PM, Dave Wolf wrote:
> IMHO, if the rest of Apache projects don't use the author tags  
> (whether it
> is enforced or not), then for consistency we shouldn't either. It  
> would be
> confusing to new folks.
> Additionally, (again opinion) an open source project should not be  
> tied to
> individuals, so I agree with Janne that questions should go to the  
> lists. If
> someone who has knowledge is still active then they can respond. If  
> the
> author / knowledgeable person is no longer active, then the absence  
> of a
> response might be informative to the wider community.
> Dave
> On Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 11:50 AM, Harry Metske  
> <>
> wrote:
>> I think we shouldn't dictate right now, how to deal with those  
>> conflicting
>> situations.
>> Is it very likely to occur ?
>> If it's not strictly necessary to make the choice now, I think we  
>> should
>> let
>> it free.
>> But if anyone else on the list has a good reason to choose for an  
>> all-on
>> or
>> all-off, please speak up.
>> regards,
>> Harry
>> 2008/3/31, Janne Jalkanen <>:
>>> Then what do we do with new people if some of them insist to have  
>>> the
>>> @author tag and some don't?
>>> /Janne
>>> On 31 Mar 2008, at 19:58, Harry Metske wrote:
>>>> Although I'm not a committer I'd like to comment :
>>>> I think both of you are right, there is code that is submitted
>>>> initially
>>>> fairly complete, and is not patched much afterwards, and if it is
>>>> patched,
>>>> it is only small bug fixes. In those cases you would want to keep  
>>>> the
>>>> @author tags.
>>>> On the other hand there is code that is initially submitted as a
>>>> simple
>>>> first prototype, and is afterwards greatly enhance by others. In
>>>> those cases
>>>> you should remove the @author tags.
>>>> If it is not exactly mandated by ASF how to deal with, let everyone
>>>> decide
>>>> for himself how to handle it, and you don't have to handle every
>>>> piece of
>>>> code the same, for some pieces keep your @author tag, for others
>>>> remove them
>>>> ?
>>>> How about that, everybody happy ?
>>>> regards,
>>>> Harry
>>>> 2008/3/31, Janne Jalkanen <>:
>>>>>>> Case in point: The author of LuceneSearchProvider has not
>>>>>>> contributed anything in what, two years?  Yet he still stands
>>>>>>> as the @author.  Would you go to him to ask for help, or should
>>>>>>> you go to the mailing list?
>>>>>> I'd ask the list, but I would likewise *know* that the author  
>>>>>> hasn't
>>>>>> been seen for two years, information that would be lost if the
>>>>>> tag had
>>>>>> been removed.
>>>>> The @author tag does not encode that information.  Therefore,  
>>>>> nothing
>>>>> would be lost, if it were removed (and it might probably be a good
>>>>> idea to remove it at that stage).
>>>>> The code should really stand on its own legs.
>>>>>> You're saying you have your name on code you don't understand?
>>>>> Yes.  Other people have modified code for which I am still the
>>>>> @author, and I can't really claim that I know what that code does
>>>>> anymore...  And I'm pretty sure I have modified a lot of the code
>>>>> that other people claim to be @author of, and they no longer  
>>>>> have any
>>>>> idea what is going on.
>>>>> That's how it goes with projects that have been running for nearly
>>>>> seven years now.
>>>>> /Janne
>>>> --
>>>> met vriendelijke groet,
>>>> Harry Metske
>>>> Telnr. +31-548-512395
>>>> Mobile +31-6-51898081
>> --
>> met vriendelijke groet,
>> Harry Metske
>> Telnr. +31-548-512395
>> Mobile +31-6-51898081
> -- 
> Dave Wolf
> H: 303-377-9537
> M: 303-956-9106
> Donate to VoteVets
> "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that  
> matter."
> --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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