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From Steven Noels <stev...@outerthought.org>
Subject Re: author tags
Date Tue, 10 Jun 2003 10:10:17 GMT
On 10/06/2003 1:45 Greg Stein wrote:

> On Mon, Jun 09, 2003 at 06:06:54PM -0400, Noel J. Bergman wrote:
>>>I don't know whether this was a symptom, a remedy, or a cause. Isn't the
>>>fact these tags needed to be removed some telltale? I'm just wondering,
>>>since you seem to advocate this as a good community pattern.
>>I fully admit that I suggested it after seeing what was going on in Avalon,
> In Avalon, it was a remedy (IMO). In general, I believe it is a very good
> thing to omit them.

In the particular case of Avalon, it indeed was an appropriate action.

> I've seen this more times than I care to count, over the years. It is an
> especially bad thing at the ASF, where even a little of that isn't right.
> Consider: the ASF is all about creating a community around a codebase so
> that the code can survive the departure of any/all developers. If that is
> the case, then why are their names in there? The code should be owned and
> maintained indefinitely by the ASF and the community that has been
> established as the caretakers of that code.


> Look at CVS. That'll tell you. But even better, pose the question on the
> community's dev list.
> So, yah... I haven't seen any real good reasons for author tags yet. Nor
> have I over my years over professional development. And when you're talking
> about a codebase that is intended to last for *decades* at the ASF, then I
> *really* don't see the purpose of author tags or other types of in-code
> credits.

I currently see a number of patterns wrt. @author tags:

1) as a way to credit non-committer code contributions

I think adding author tags for non-committer contributions builds up 
some sort of 'merit/credit points' system so that there's some 
measurable way of finding out when somebody is elligible for becoming a 
committer, based on track record. People also like it when their patches 
are marked with their authorship, since as a non-committer you are not 
listed on the whoweare pages. So I'd still be +0.5 on retaining such 
author tags. Over at Cocoon, we also typically add author attributes to 
user-submitted documentation, for the same reason. One might say we 
should use the commit message to credit such contributions, but these 
are less obvious to find out IMHO.

2) as an ongoing logbook for tracking who was involved with a particular 
piece of code. Like it or not, but sometimes it is easier to contact the 
dev-list notifying a particular guy his piece of code has gone awry, 
without having to look to CVSWeb or the like. Especially in the case 
where code patches originate from non-committers, who might not track 
the cvs commit messages or be deeply involved in the day-to-day life of 
a project.

Ideally, when someone becomes committer, his past and continued code 
contributions might be considered to be owned by the community-at-large, 
and author tags should be reflecting this. Then again, I believe some 
IDEs insert such tags automatically when someone touches a file.

I know people sometimes have troubles in finding out whether & where 
they should add/change author tags to existing code when they fix, patch 
or enhance. Maybe eradicating them might help.

Maybe the author tag should read "@author The Apache {$projectname} 
Developer Team", and add other tags for non-committer contributions, if any.

Steven Noels                            http://outerthought.org/
Outerthought - Open Source, Java & XML Competence Support Center
Read my weblog at            http://blogs.cocoondev.org/stevenn/
stevenn at outerthought.org                stevenn at apache.org

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