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From "Craig R. McClanahan" <craig...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Committers home pages (was [Fwd: Re: Hi Community])
Date Sat, 26 Oct 2002 18:17:17 GMT


On Sat, 26 Oct 2002, Sylvain Wallez wrote:

> I'd like to propose each committer to build a simple home page like that
> one. Knowing each other is the first step towards building a stronger
> community. And presenting ourselves to the outer world (this list is
> closed) is a step towards widening that community.

I don't have a home page (never got around to it yadda yadda), but the
"Who We Are" page at Struts has a pretty good summary of my background:

  http://jakarta.apache.org/struts/volunteers.html

I did not subscribe to the reorg list, so I'm blissfully ignorant of the
"discussions" that have gone on there.  I'm willing to give this list a
try, because I really am interested in seeing if there is any consensus
among us on who the "community" is that we are talking about.

Historically, the more famous open source advocates that you hear about
(either groups or individuals) have tended to be pretty political and
absolutist in their statements.  In particular, they spend (IMHO) way to
much time being *against* things instead of being *for* things.

Any moron can be against something ... and against something loudly ... be
it another person, a company, a product, a technology, whatever.  One of
the things that attracted me to Apache in the first place was that the
temperature seemed a little cooler and more pragmatic.  Alas, there have
been many occasions, especially in the last year or so, where this has not
been the case.  To the point where I sometimes find it personally
embarrassing to be associated with some of the folks who have an
apache.org email address too.

I'm interested in participating in a community that is *for* something.
There will be people that disagree -- that's fine.  There will be people
who think their approach is better technically -- that's fine.  There will
be people who don't believe in open source -- ok, we can make the case, in
practical business terms, without put-downs and attacks that would make
good references on a resume sent to political consultants.

Where did all the folks that are reasonable and pragmatic go?

The first thing for me to be for is high quality software.  But high
quality is not just an issue of cool ideas -- it's everything from an
attitude about fixing bugs, to caring deeply about backwards
compatibility, to focusing on things that people find useful (without
calling them stupid if they don't).  It goes on to an attitude about
showing the world a better way, and educating/encouraging them to take a
look.

The second thing that is important to me, as a part of an open source
developer community, is paying attention to the users of the products we
produce.  I definitely practice what I preach in this regard -- count up
the answers I've give on the Tomcat, Struts, and Commons mailing lists
here, and other forums elsewhere.  Indeed, user support is one of my
primary criteria for proposing new committers -- in addition to the
criteria outlined on the Jakarta web site pages.

I've been very heavily involved in the two largest and most successful
(based on downloads and mailing list subscriptions) packages at Jakarta --
Tomcat and Struts.  I've enjoyed the diversity of the Tomcat community,
including surviving a potentially disastrous code fork that led to the
"Rules for Revolutionaries" document that is part of Apache folklore.  And
I've enjoyed seeing how Tomcat's reputation for quality and performance
have improved over time, and the many successful ways in which Tomcat has
been employed.

But I've enjoyed the Struts community even more.  We're not political,
we're passionate about creating a high quality piece of software, we are
serious about backwards compatibility, we don't put down users who ask
newbie questions.  We even have "casual Fridays" on the mailing list,
where interesting off-topic discussions on anything from "my first
computer" to "online IQ tests" have occurred.

And the world (both developers and users) have responded to this
difference in tone, just as much as they have to the quality of Struts.
The community grew from zero, a little over two years ago, to what you see
today (tens of thousands of downloads per month, 13 active committers, 780
subscribers to STRUTS-DEV, 2300 subscribers to STRUTS-USER, applications
based on Struts all over the world, support built in to a wide
variety of open source and commercial development tools, five Struts
books coming out this fall, autographing coffee mugs at ApacheCon :-).

That's the kind of Apache community that I'm interested in participating
in.  It's not JUST about cool software.  It's about cool software that
people actually use, and having fun interacting with the users as well as
the developers.

Am I dreaming to believe that such an approach would be attractive to a
broader set of developers?

Craig McClanahan



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