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From Ersin Er <>
Subject Re: [discussion] Lowering barrier for perspective committers
Date Thu, 06 Jul 2006 16:43:55 GMT
Alex Karasulu wrote:
> Hi all,

Hi! Comments are inlined..

> Over the past few weeks I've been thinking of ways in which we can
> increase the participation of existing committers while attracting new
> committers in a safe manner.
> Our Problems
> ============
> The number of active committers on Apache Directory Server is 
> dwindling and we have many areas where a single developer has been 
> working alone.
> Some email threads have tried to address the issue of the lack of enough
> committers in specific areas: see threads [0] & [1].  So we are
> suffering mostly in the following areas:
> o OSGi effort,
> o Kerberos protocol development,
> o Changepw protocol development,
> o DHCP protocol development, and
> o DNS protocol development.

These are some cool features which makes ApacheDS ahead of standard LDAP 
servers. We want to make ApacheDS a real most-in-one solution for 
enterprise integration. We would really like to have more people (both 
as developer and as user) interested in those services.

> Even the work being done on the LDAP protocol has too few people
> involved.  Right now we have the following active LDAP committers:
> Ersin Er
> Emmanuel Lecharny
> Stephan Zoerner
> Alex Karasulu
> Trustin Lee

Although the list seems to be relatively longer we need even more people 
here :) Because we have a long list of todos especially related to 
administrative aspects of the system. Also an architectural refactoring 
is on the way.

> (forgive me if I missed anyone)
> We certainly need more people to be actively involved.  I see many
> talented individuals that have been lurking, sometimes getting involved
> to work on particular problems as they get the itch.  I'd like to
> welcome these people and invite them to work on the core of the server
> with us.  Sometimes we're finding it hard to keep up with the
> contributions from these folks.  Some are very excited in working with
> us and we often find our selves lacking the time to engage them.
> As the PMC chair, I see these circumstances as warning signs.  They 
> reflect a weakening community.
> Possible Solutions
> ==================
> Getting existing committers more involved and working on different parts
> of the server is not so easy.  Knowledge transfer is needed to get them
> and even others involved in parts of the server they are not accustomed
> to.  For this I personally will start conducting some classes and
> preparing materials for those interested in learning about the internals
> of the server on some interactive medium.  The materials for these 
> classes can also serve as a documentation update for our website so 
> others can follow these trails.  It would be nice if other committers 
> can also give some tutorials in their respective areas of expertise.

I would like to help on this. I can help on subentries, the 
administrative model in general, access control (Alex is the expert in 
it), stored procedures and triggers.

While we have several todos on Jira currently, we may also specify some 
"new feature" or "improvement" tasks which may each serve as a small 
standalone (well, nothing is standalone here really) project for new 
fellows. (A fresh synergy attempt.)

> As for new committers, I think we need to lower the barrier for
> committership while safely integrating these committers into our
> committer base.  One key need is to provide the proper guidance while
> reviewing their activity.  Up to now we've been getting several
> contributions and many are just collecting up in JIRA.  Sometimes we
> need a place for these people to work on new ideas like in a sandbox 
> until they're ready to bring in their work into the main branches of 
> development.  For this I propose a committer mentorship program while 
> lowering the barrier of entry for new committers.
> The idea is to use a review then commit (RTC) process on main branches 
> of development for these new "probationary" committers (a.k.a. 
> probies).  Commits to personal areas in the sandbox do not apply.  
> Hence any commit to main branches must be approved by a mentor.  The 
> same rules apply for a veto.  A mentor has the responsibility to 
> review the work of a probie in a timely fashion for this process to 
> work however the probie can file the JIRA, apply approved patches and 
> close it after the approval using their own steam.  This way we reduce 
> the amount of work existing committers have to do on behalf of 
> consistent contributors. Also the person with the itch can drive the 
> change instead of being blocked waiting for a committer to get to 
> their JIRA issues reviewed then applied.
> Such a program gives regular contributors more power to affect the 
> code base and creates a smoother path towards their becoming 
> committers thanks to a lower barrier.
> Possible Drawbacks
> ==================
> o Needs some upfront initiative.
> o More process to deal with?
> o Will probies feel like second class committers? Are there social 
> ramifications?
> o Will this mean more work for existing committers?
> o ... please add more here

We need to try and see.

> Conclusions
> ===========
> This idea is not exercised at the ASF in any project explicitly 
> however some elements of it appear in various communities.  Usually 
> communities at the ASF especially trust new committers that somewhat 
> distrust themselves with code they are not familiar with.  A good new 
> committer is someone who besides being consistent and active is 
> careful enough to presume they are not always right, especially with 
> changes to unfamiliar code.  Culturally, elements of such a process 
> may unofficially be practiced at various projects within the ASF.  The 
> problem with this approach is, the new committer is trusted yet 
> expected to engage others if they are unsure of themselves.  This IMO 
> puts a lot on the shoulders of new committers.
> Considering our less than optimal situation, WRT the number of 
> committers in this community, I think we need to formalize this 
> process to facilitate more involvement from the contributor community 
> at large.  Consider it a precaution against an active committer 
> drought taken under extreme conditions.  I would like to vote on 
> giving this process a try for a quarter to experiment and see how it 
> works.
> Hopefully formalizing this process under these circumstances will pull 
> contributors on our periphery closer to the core team of active 
> committers leading to a healthier community.
> Thoughts? Comments?
> Thanks,
> Alex
> -----
> [0]
> [1]

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