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From Shane Curcuru <>
Subject Re: Contributors versus Committers versus PMC members
Date Fri, 24 Jun 2011 14:35:55 GMT
Great overview, Rob.  The roles at Apache projects are also documented 
here, which may be useful to read as well:

Does anyone have links or an explanation of the "org chart" of the project?  It would be helpful for us Apache folk to have 
a better understanding of how some things were done in the past on the 
previous project.

On 6/24/2011 9:48 AM, Rob Weir wrote:
> Since almost all of us are new to Apache we're learning a lot about
> how Apache projects organize themselves.  Based on my reading, I
> understand that Apache projects have three degrees of participation:

Plus users!  All Apache projects have a users@/user@ mailing list where 
user level questions are asked and answered.  Given OOo's focus, I 
imagine we may have a number of lists or forums for this kind of support 
in the future.  Note that Apache prefers mailing lists (with public 
archives in a number of places) to forums, although this is not a strict 

> 1) Developer (or Contributor might be the preferred term, since it
> doesn't depend on coding), who is a project member that contributes
> patches, helps with support, reports bugs, etc.  The main thing they
> cannot do is commit changes directly to the product repository.  They
> need to submit patches, which are then reviewed and checked in by a
> "committer".

Given the breadth of OOo, I think there may be a significant number of 
people who serve as contributors, working on documentation, 
translations, and user-focused areas.

> 2) Committers are elected based on their sustained contributions to
> the project.  They have an apache userid and email alias.  They can
> commit changes to the repository.  They are also responsible for
> reviewing patches submitted by other contributors.  A Committer must
> have an ICLA on file.

Committers are elected (by the PMC) based on the merit of their public 
contributions to the project itself.  Each PMC has it's own bar, or 
level of contribution, expected from developers before being proposed 
and voted in as committers.

Note that iCLAs are required for all committers, which ensures clean IP 
for any project(s) they commit to.  Committer access is granted 
separately for every project; merit from one project is not necessarily 
transferrable to other projects.

> 3) Project Management Committee (PMC) are Committers or Contributors
> who are elected, based on merit, to help provide oversight to the
> project.  They approve releases and elected new Committers and PMC
> members.

PMC members are almost always existing committers, since it's rare to 
elect someone to control the strategic direction of a project unless 
they've already been a committer for a while - but it's certainly 
possible.  Note that we probably would want an iCLA in any case.

> As the Apache OpenOffice podling was bootstrapped, all of the
> volunteers who signed up on the wiki, before the vote, were
> automatically able to become Commtters and PPMC members.  But to
> actually take on those roles, a number of steps needed to occur,
> mainly dependent on the new member submitting the Apache ICLA.  Once
> that is done, account creation, etc. takes some time, but is routine.
> What we need to decide going forward is how we define the details of
> the Contributor/Committer/PPMC roles.
> Specifically:
> 1) In the future, will all Committers be PPMC members?  In other
> words, will these two groups be identical?  I've heard that other
> Apache projects have a subset of Committers serve on the PMC, but they
> rotate membership, so all Committers get a chance to be on the PMC.

Given the breadth of work on OOo, I would imagine PPMC would be a subset 
of committers, although that's a decision up to the project.  I don't 
know of many (any?) projects that rotate PMC membership; normally once 
people are elected to the PMC they remain on it (until they choose to 
leave due to not having time to contribute).

PPMC/PMC membership changes work like this:
- PMC votes to elect a new member
- PMC chair emails board@ with vote result asking for an ACK
- A director replies to the email with an ACK, and notes a 72 hour 
waiting period
- After 72 hours, the PMC chair adds the new PMC member to the official 
PMC roster

Note that changing the chair of a PMC (who is also a Vice President of 
the ASF) requires a board resolution, which is done at monthly board 

> 2) If the Committer and PPMC groups are not identical, then what
> criteria should we use to determine who becomes a PPMC member?

Committers can manipulate/vote on the code.  PPMC members vote on new 
committers, new PPMC members, and project releases.

Personally, I view committers as people trusted to help work on the 
code.  PPMC/PMC members are people trusted to *actively* plan the 
strategy for the project, and who are somehow willing to help out on the 
larger scale, either with testing and voting on releases, being 
responsible for some product area, or whatever.  But again, that's up to 
the project to decide as a community.

> 3) If someone is offered the role of Committer, how long do they have
> to sign ICLA?

Up to the project, but if they don't sign an iCLA then infrastructure 
won't give them an Apache id.

> 4) If someone is an incredible contributor to the project, say in
> testing or event planning, can they become a PPMC member?   Would they
> need to sign the ICLA even if they are never actually need to commit
> project resources?  In other words, can someone be a PMC member
> without being a Committer?  Or should we think of these as being
> progressive degrees of involvement, strictly Contributor -->  Committer
> -->  PMC member?

Previous code contributions are not required for PMC membership; the PMC 
is free to decide what kinds of merit are sufficient to vote in a new 
member.  Having an iCLA isn't strictly a requirement, but it would be 
strange to have a PMC member without one.  iCLAs are also required for 
an Apache id.

> 5) Is there an term limit on PPMC membership, or criterion for
> sustained contributions and activity level?  In other words, is it a
> case of "Once elected, always a PMC member"?

Up to the project.  Most projects expect that PMC members can remain 
indefinitely.  Many projects have an ad hoc process where they 
occasionally ping PMC members who have not been present for a while to 
ask if they want to remain on the PMC or not.

> 6) Similar for Committers.  Is there a minimum threshold level of
> activity that is needed to sustain that role?

Up to the project.  Most projects allow committers to remain indefinitely.

> -Rob

Excellent questions, by the way.

- Shane

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