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From Sally Khudairi ...@apache.org>
Subject The ASF @ 15 --Community Over Code-- The Apache Software Foundation's Community Leadership Powers 15 Years of Open Source Innovation
Date Wed, 12 Nov 2014 10:01:31 GMT
>> this announcement is available online at http://s.apache.org/AQJ


Part 3 of a 3-part series celebrating 15 years of community-led development at The Apache
Software Foundation.


Over the past 15 years, The Apache Software Foundation (ASF http://apache.org/) has accrued
a lot of unofficial mottos: "Community-led development" and "No Jerks Allowed" are two favorites.
But the one that comes up most often is "Community Over Code", also sometimes stated mathematically
as "Community > Code". 

Now, obviously, as a community, we are all about code, and wouldn't have a reason for existing
without that code. But it's more than just a clever slogan. Instead, it's meant to codify
how we do things, how we see one another, and how we go about decision making, even when it
comes to code patches. 

Once, long ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Behlendorf, the founder of the Apache
Web Server project, at ApacheCon. (Parts of that interview became a podcast on FeatherCast
- http://feathercast.apache.org/?p=78 - and it appears that I never published the promised
second half.) One of the things I remember him saying to me was that a healthy community is
far more important than good code, because if the code were to mysteriously vanish, a strong
community could rewrite it, but if the community is unhealthy, the code
 will eventually fall
by the wayside, too.

Daniel Gruno, who has done a lot of statistical analysis of the ASF, says: "All in all, the
projects (and people) in the ASF have produced a whopping 120 million lines of code, worth
almost 32,500 person-years in efforts and 'costing' an estimated $2 billion in effort put
into the projects." 

All of this is produced by roughly 4,000 people over the course of almost 20 years, with a
much smaller number being consistently active at any given time. 

This is made possible by our amazing infrastructure team who provide the servers and networks
that this all happens on. It's made possible by the many people that have gone before us,
producing software, standards, and protocols on which we build. And it's possible due to a
philosophy of collaborative development, where community is valued more than the code that
we're writing. 

What does that mean, exactly? 

Take, for example, a situation where you have a rock-star programmer who writes brilliant
code, complete with documentation and tests, but treats everyone else on the project as though
they are idiots. What's the result? People will either leave, because they can't stand this
person's behavior, or they will learn to behave in the same way in order to fit
 in, thus
driving everyone else away even faster. Eventually, you have a project where everybody's a
jerk, and nobody wants to join the party.

Or, consider this from the perspective of a company which works with Open Source projects.
Apache's business-friendly stance means that businesses will often look at projects at the
ASF as a place where they can invest time and developers, in the hopes of producing products
and services down the road. Projects with a hostile community tend to get passed over
 as
a bad investment by companies that are looking for projects where they can have a positive
impact. It's just too much work to have to work on the code as well as have to battle a toxic
work environment.

The importance of healthy, respectful community is more than just a warm fuzzy feeling. It's
deeply pragmatic. Healthy, diverse, inclusive (dare I even say friendly?) communities promote
project growth, sustainability, and even to the financial success of corporations that choose
to build solutions around the technology. 

When projects enter the ASF via the Incubator, one of the primary things we're concerned about
is whether the community is diverse and sustainable, not whether the code is yet production
quality. When projects report to the board each month, the board isn't evaluating their technical
progress, but, rather, is considering whether the project is conducting itself in a way that
is sustainable, welcoming to newcomers, and has a community that is large enough and healthy
enough to continue making decisions about the future of the project. 

Unlike the closed-source, single company software development model, in Open Source it's actually
really important that you play nicely with others, even with your competitors. The term "coopetition"
embodies this, describing a situation where you cooperate closely with your competition to
create something, so that you can then compete on value-adds such as
 training, services,
support, and non-free features. While this isn't something that the ASF participates in directly,
it's a side-effect of the way we do Open Source.

While we're most certainly not claiming to have solved all of the problems around running
an Open Source community, we think that we've got some things right, and constantly strive
to fix the places where practice doesn't live up to theory. One thing we're pretty sure we've
got right is a steady focus on community, rather than code, as the appropriate measure of
the
 health of a project.

So, come join the Apache community. We've got more than 200 projects to choose from, and the
next 15 years are sure to be even more exciting than the first, as we continue to grow, and
continue to produce code in a community-centric way. 

-Rich Bowen, Executive Vice President

= = =

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