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From Marvin Humphrey <>
Subject [lucy-dev] Dispersing responsibility
Date Wed, 25 May 2011 00:57:24 GMT
On Fri, May 20, 2011 at 06:19:03PM -0700, Mattmann, Chris A (388J) wrote:
> > I'm yelling at Chris today, but tomorrow I may be yelling at Marvin for
> > being too much of a coordination hub for this project.  
> +1 to that -- Marvin and I have had that discussion before and I think he is
> open to seeing others step up. Right, Marvin? ^_^

It's been acknowledged since before Lucy entered the Incubator that
diversifying our committer base is one of Lucy's central challenges.

    Orphaned products

    All core developers have been associated with the project for several
    years across multiple jobs.  However, at this time, the project would
    probably not survive the departure of Marvin Humphrey, so there is a risk
    of being orphaned.  Marvin has no plans to leave, but we have been actively
    working to disperse his knowledge of the code base and administrative
    responsibilities in order to make him dispensable.  Having staggered badly
    after Dave Balmain's departure, we are keenly aware of this vulnerability
    and highly motivated to eliminate it. 

I'd cite two recent developments to illustrate how we are making progress
towards that goal: the codification of the release process, and the pending
integration of the AT test harness.

The ReleaseGuide, which Peter started, has now been refined to the point where
someone who is not an active Lucy developer can realistically perform the
Release Manager role.  Whatever efforts may have been required up till now to
ready the documentation and the code base, it is now relatively easy to
hand administrative responsibility for rolling the release to someone new, and
the docs are complete and straightforward enough that others can maintain

Regarding test harnesses, we are now poised to retire Charmonizer's test
modules and replace them with the AT test harness from apreq.  It took a
certain amount of negotiation and prep work to get us to this point; David
noted drily in IRC that what was originally supposed to be Joe making a
contribution to Lucy quickly morphed into Marvin contributing to apreq. :)

Truth be told, I feel a certain disquiet at the prospect of zapping
Charmonizer's test harness.  I worked hard on that code, and had imagined that
one day it might one day be reused elsewhere.  It would make me more
comfortable to take the approach of incrementally improving it with the best
features of AT, and in fact Joe originally proposed that as one option.

But the AT test harness has one major advantage over Charmonizer's: Joe
already has an ownership stake in it.  With AT's APR dependency removed, any
remaining technical arguments which might favor one over the other are dwarfed
by the fact that adopting AT addresses Lucy's most pressing need.  And thus, I
chose to follow the path that would be least comfortable for me but most
comfortable for Joe.

Who knows if these specific efforts will pay off in terms of recruiting
long-term contributors, but I believe that if we're persistent and keep
trying, we'll succeed eventually.  I feel good about taking on the role of
aggressively integrating fresh talent into Lucy.  Of course pure survival
instinct is involved: Lucy won't thrive unless these outreach attempts
succeed.  But it's also an extremely interesting challenge that forces me to
stretch technically, personally, and socially.

We'll know that Lucy has reached critical mass when other people take
ownership of this role away from me, too. :)

Marvin Humphrey

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