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From "B. W. Fitzpatrick" <>
Subject Code ownership (was Re: whoweare.html)
Date Wed, 06 Nov 2002 03:05:58 GMT

Nicola Ken Barozzi <> writes:
> I tend to ask all developers to add their name to the authors with any 
> commit they make that has impacted on the code (ie not cosmetics), and 
> this levels the credit system. You never know from the authors if a 
> certain one has made 1000 lines of code or only one.

IMO, if you want a list of everyone who has worked on a codebase, make
a top-level file like COMMITTERS and let people put their names in
there.  ChangeLogs, if kept, are shipped with the code, and you can
always run "cvs annotate" on the repository.  See for an example of
> I find code ownership a problem that can and must be prevented and 
> resolved in the community. A trick that seasoned committers do on new 
> committers is to change their first commits and work on them, to show 
> that the code is of everyone. If they complain, it's time for a nice and 
> bold explanation.
>  From my experience on this, it's not something one forgets easily ;-)

Are you serious? Quite frankly, I find that behavior reprehensible--It
reeks of strange fraternity initiation rites.

If I write, test, and commit a piece of good solid code and someone
else goes pissing in it just to leave their scent and to show me that
I don't 'own' the code, I am *not* going to be amused by it.
Ownership of code shouldn't be taught by this kind of negative
reinforcement, and I would suggest that the quality of the code
suffers as a result.
> One thing that *could* be a problem is that @author tags can give the 
> impression that a cretain piece of code is "maintained" by the authors, 
> or that they are responsible for it, and this can reduce peer review.

Yes.  Also, I think that placing author credit in every file
encourages territoriality and individualism while discouraging people
from thinking and acting as a team.


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