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From Stephen McConnell <>
Subject Re: PPMCs and oversight
Date Tue, 30 Dec 2003 01:32:43 GMT

+1 on everything below (including the  tinker's cuss).


Berin Lautenbach wrote:

> Aaron Bannert wrote:
>> On Sun, Dec 28, 2003 at 03:43:56PM +1100, Berin Lautenbach wrote:
>> I'm confused by what you are saying. Do you believe there should
>> be one person in an authoritative position for each PPMC or not? I
>> am strongly against having "roles" within the ASF. Roles go against
>> the way volunteer organizations work. Volunteers at the ASF will
>> contribute when they can. It is difficult for most people to commit
>> to certain responsibilities when they must keep real life at a
>> higher priority (work, family, etc). By keeping things simple and
>> allowing people to contribute when they are best able to, we all
>> benefit.
> One of the reasons I like the ASF is that it is a formal structure 
> around volunteer work.  If you look at volunteer organisations, they 
> don't just take people and let them do whatever they want.  They 
> channel and put some formality in place to ensure the right things are 
> being done in the right way in the right place.
> That requires formalised roles.  They exist in volunteer organisations 
> everywhere.
> Similarly here.  It's not enough to just have enthusiastic volunteers. 
> There needs to be some focus around those areas that the organisation 
> (in this case the ASF) sees as important from a governance perspective.
> I will absolutely agree that we want to keep them to a minimum.  But 
> that minimum must exist for the ASF (as an organisation) to work.  PMC 
> Chairs, board members etc.  Without that structure, the ASF would 
> simply be another Sourceforge - which is not a bad thing, but it is 
> very different to the ASF.
>> I also don't understand what kind of "accountability" you expect
>> someone to step up and accept? What magic feats do you see mentors
>> performing for which the Incubator PMC would not be better? I fail
>> to see any benefit to this sort of artificial bottleneck. Besides,
>> if there are serious issues to be taken care of (which I would hope
>> would be rare) would not a mentor be doing the Incubator PMC a 
>> disservice
>> by hiding those issues from the PMC?
> Exactly my point!
> As an Incubator PMC member who is not actually a mentor on any 
> project, I don't personally give a tinker's cuss whether any of the 
> projects (with one or two exceptions :>) succeed in the Incubator or not.
> However, I *do* care that, as a member of the PMC, I am discharging my 
> role in ensuring the ASF is being protected, and that projects 
> entering the foundation do so in a manner that will not bring harm on 
> the foundation.
> To be comfortable, I want to know that there is an ASF member who is 
> tracking what the incubating project is doing.  If any issues arise, I 
> want to know about them soonest!  My best chance of doing that is by 
> knowing that the ASF member has taken responsibility for protecting 
> the ASF.
>>>> I think it's important that there are at least a couple Incubator PMC
>>>> people subscribed to the PPMC mailing lists, but those people *are*
>>>> the "Mentors". If a PPMC has an issue they should send an email and
>>>> also cc: the mailing list.
>>> No - IMO these people are *not* the mentors (or at least this alone 
>>> does not make them so).  As a PMC member, I subscribe to PPMC lists 
>>> to make sure I understand what is going on, and so that when a 
>>> question comes up that needs input/oversite from the Incubator PMC 
>>> then I can adequately do my part.
>> That sounds like mentoring to me. Or sheparding. Or incubating.
>> It's all the same. You are on the PMC because you are interested
>> in incubating new ASF projects, right?
> Yes - but not in the sense that I am interested in seeing them 
> successfully incubate (again with one or two exceptions :>).  I am 
> interested in seeing that the role of the Incubator is being 
> discharged as required by the board.
>> If you are involved in the Incubator project (not just on the PMC)
>> then you already have shown that you are interested in helping new
>> projects incubate. If you go so far as to actually join the PPMC
>> list then it's obvious that you are interested in that particular
>> community. In my mind once you get that far you are a "mentor".
> No.  For example, I have joined the Geronimo PPMC.  That's not because 
> I am particularly interested in the J2EE project (although it's 
> interesting stuff!).  It's also not because I feel I can assist (my 
> background is mainly C/C++ and security).  It is because there have 
> been lots of concerns around licensing and use of non ASF code.  As an 
> Incubator PMC member I feel I should be fully accross this issue, so I 
> have joined the PPMC.
>> I make a distinction between teaching and doing. The way I see it,
>> veteran ASFers who are interested in incubating new ASF project
>> communities should join the Incubator PMC and any PPMCs that they
>> find interesting. By participating in those discussions, they can
>> teach these new projects how to behave like ASF projects.
> Now that is what I see as a Mentor!
>> It seems to me that we have inadvertently invented the role of
>> Mentor to *do* all the work necessary to become an ASF project. It
>> is this idea that I am opposed to. I fail to see anything that must
>> be performed by a Mentor that should not instead be done either by
>> the project itself or be brought to the attention of the Incubator PMC.
> I nearly agree.  The mentors are there to assist and help.  However 
> there should be one person (the single mentor that we originally had) 
> who is tracking the project, the PPMC etc., holding them to task and 
> making the Incubator PMC aware of any issues.  That to me is a 
> critical task, and one that requires a level of accountability.
>> Given the above, I fail to see the necessity. Critical issues should
>> be brought to the attention of the Incubator PMC. Everything else
>> should be handled within the PPMC and the work to become an ASF
>> project should be handled completely within the PPMC. "Mentors" as
>> I see them exist as guides and to help foster new project communities
>> so that they can best exist within the ASF. The best way to do that
>> is to join the PPMC and development lists for incubated projects.
> I think we nearly agree.  I want some formality around ensuring the 
> Incubator PMC is aware of issues.  That requires a responsible person 
> to ensure that it happens.
>> -aaron
>> [I hate long emails. :)]
> Me too - but I seem to love writing them ;>.
> Cheers,
>     Berin
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Stephen J. McConnell

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