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From J Aaron Farr <fa...@apache.org>
Subject Re: [ANN] Avalon Closed
Date Fri, 17 Dec 2004 13:21:02 GMT
William A. Rowe, Jr. wrote:
>> * Within our decision processes, what do you think is more 
>>   important - the community or the individual?
> The community.  Individuals participate, but the distinction
> between an ASF project and a, say, sourceforge project, is that
> the ASF project is more than one individual.  One hopes they
> survive the departure of any given individual, or the influnces
> of one specific individual
> Sadly, that doesn't always happen.

Also, the ASF has established PMCs and PMC Chairs so that when a 
community breaks down, there is someone to step in and take 
responsibility.  This can happen because a community does not properly 
handle legal issues or because of severe disharmony which distrupts the 

What Stephen is trying to get at is that he believes that the community 
was completely behind the "Single Avalon Platform" initiative and that I 
disagreed and as PMC Chair recommended the shutdown of Avalon, thus 
allowing one individual to trump the will of the community.

However, this isn't a very accurate view of what happened.

The community was not 100% behind the Single Avalon Platform, more 
specifically, we weren't behind the manner in which the Merlin 
programmers wished to implement this initiative.  Stephen didn't really 
care that others didn't agree and moved ahead anyway.  Eventually, 
enough people got sick and tired of this behavior that rather than 
fight, they left, i.e.- consensus by attrition.  What this means is that 
a few months after the initial vote, there were really only one or two 
of us left who didn't agree with Stephen's vision.  So now Stephen can 
say, "well, hey, the whole community agrees with me, what's your 
problem?"  Of course, all that really happened was that the Merlin team 
highjacked Avalon.

In their defense, all the Merlin developers ever wanted was a place to 
call home.  They wanted their own project space to develop in peace.  I 
don't think anyone, intially, had nefarious plans.  But the project 
started in Avalon and that's where it grew until it got so big it 
started to eclipse the original Avalon project.

What should have happened was to allow the Merlin project to grow 
somewhere outside of Avalon.  But breaking up is hard to do, so no one 
really wanted to kick Merlin out and we all thought we could work things 
out within Avalon.  However, we should have moved it to the Incubator 
instead of incubating it within Avalon.  By the time we realized Merlin 
should be separated from Avalon, the Merlin developers wanted their own 
TLP and felt incubation would be some sort of punishment or demotion.

Merlin never became a TLP for a couple of reasons.  One, not everyone 
understood the need and the technical differences between Merlin and 
Avalon/Excalibur.  Particularly, not everyone was convinced we needed 
both Merlin _and_ Avalon or Merlin _and_ Excalibur.

Additionally we have the fact that even at this point, Merlin was mostly 
a one or two man show.  And one of those developers, Stephen, had a 
history (right or wrong) of causing contention.  The Merlin team had 
shown they could develop great software, but not that they could develop 
a community which espoused the principles of the ASF.  Moreover, they 
weren't really interested in compromising.  It was a TLP or nothing at 
all.  Add these all up and we can see why the Board was leary of a 
Merlin TLP.

Eventually, everyone lost patience and the situation broke down.  Merlin 
forked to become Metro outside of the ASF and I recommended the shutdown 
of Avalon.  Stephen feels I didn't follow proper procedures and tries to 
paint me as disloyal to the Avalon community and a puppet of Board 
members bent on destroying him.  That' fine.  I can understand that 
Stephen doesn't love me right now.  I'm not losing sleep over it.

The thing is, and the reason for sharing this with the community, is 
that PMC's and communities need to watch out for this sort of thing in 
your own community.  Don't wait for the situation to get critical.  PMCs 
and PMC Chairs can intervene and should rather than watch a community 
tear itself apart.

So, to answer Stephen's question, communities are most important in the 
decision process, but individuals need to step up and step in when a 
community breaks down.


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