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From Alexandre Rafalovitch <arafa...@gmail.com>
Subject On Labs identity (Blue Sky thoughts)
Date Tue, 07 Mar 2017 21:26:14 GMT
(Just joined due to the Committer list's call to action).

I think the question of Lab's identity is where it fits in the
_modern_ ecosystem. Its original offering (VM, etc) as mentioned on
some of the messages in the archive is not sustainable.

Github/Gitlab is more visible, offers more control and is integrated
more with additional awesome services, never mind being a
social-development destination. VMs are kind of cheap. I am putting a
lot more than $5/month into my Open Source Project of Choice. Running
a $5/month VM is just one of those things. And setting up VM with Labs
is probably as - or more - difficult than doing it on Digital Ocean or
whatever.

So, is Labs then a sub-project level of offering to Apache Committers?
Something that is smaller than a project but is still somehow
"Apache"? Again, that does not seem to be enough of an incentive for
technical reasons.

What about for the community reasons? Can the identity be reformulated
(or reinforced) to be a lot more about community than about technical
offering? In fact, reading the By-laws, I get all warm and fuzzy and
excited, especially about the last part of the last para:
"Apache Labs are the place where ASF committers can work on
innovative, blue-sky and off-the-wall ideas, without having to worry
about fitting in an existing project bylaw or building a community
around it, but unlike other external venues that can offer similar
hosting services, as a place where fellow committers can offer
suggestions and help."

So, if _I_ was interpreting these ByLaws, I would sort of focus them
inwards on a lot more dogfooding _across_ Apache projects with Labs
being that inner space where different communities can meet. Ideally,
it would give growth to tiger teams which brings together people from
different projects who then, as a group, help out other Apache
projects.

To take a semi-technical example, it would be great to have somebody
who has Technical Documentation skills, somebody who is good sysadmin
and somebody who has good technical/demo building skills and them
going around multiple Apache projects and helping them to build their
"hello world" examples that make it easier for the beginners to get
going. I bet after 3-5 runs through "take a project, build it, make a
basic dockerized example for it, push the examples and bugs discovered
back to the community", it will become an easy thing to do well. And
most communities would love it. And Labs could be the space that sets
up an infrastructure to help those people do it. Even if that
infrastructure is not actually running on Apache Infra.

Labs could also be the one with the strong Call to Action. I have
search expertise for example (Apache Solr). I do a number of
mini-projects around Solr that are not direct code contribution. I
would be happy to step into other projects that are downstream from
Solr and provide my Solr expertise to their committers by reviewing
their setup or helping to explain to them why they have troubles
migrating to latest Solr. But they don't really call and if they do
call, most of the time, you are then expected to find your own path
from the start to the level of contribution. If there was an umbrella
of people helping to mentor people already in ASF into helping them to
cross-contribute to other projects, this could be a lot easier. Labs
could be one collecting such willing experts and connecting/enabling
them.

Could Labs be the place where people with different first language
hang out and help to translate "Hello World" tutorials into other
languages, using common infrastructure they don't have to reinvent.
Discovery of educational resources for open-source projects is
actually a big issue, giving a centralized space (basically a
well-referenced blog) is a step in a right direction. Again, this
could happen spontaneously by just individual efforts, but having a
coordinated effort in removing all barriers towards that happening
consistently and in repeated fashion, could encourage contributions.

We already have http://community.apache.org/, which focuses on less
technical aspects and on on-boarding (for those who find it, similar
problem really....). Could Labs be complimentary to that, by focusing
on technical aspects of building the community and focusing a lot more
on getting more senior members of community to contribute back in in
the mentoring ways?

Now, this is very Blue Sky and I - for one - would not be in a
position to lead this kind of evolution. But since Blue Sky is in the
By-laws, I felt it was not unreasonable to express my thoughts.

Regards,
   Alex.
----
http://www.solr-start.com/ - Resources for Solr users, new and experienced

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