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From "Noel J. Bergman" <>
Subject RE: PPMCs and oversight
Date Tue, 30 Dec 2003 18:27:29 GMT
Berin Lautenbach wrote:

> When did liason come into this?  I am confused as to what on
> earth oversite and assistance has to do with liason?

See the quoted language below.

> I am also confused as to why having an identified person
> would restrict others from being involved?

Read Stephen's own message: "but lets imagine that conflicts in availble
time arise and for some reason your out of commission for three months -
well, heck - I can jump in do your that stuff"

What was "my stuff"?

  - "the man they can turn to privaetly, ask questions, seek advice,
     and within which you can provide info based on experince,
     conections, contacts, etc"

  - "someone that members of the PMC can turn to and say "hey Noel
     - how are things going on over on the directory project?"

  - "Someone from Apache ready to say "yes" - I'm available and
     committed on both sides of the equation."


Stephen responded that we misunderstood his point, but his response included
"Nicola is arguing the the PMC is responsible - I argure that groups cannot
be reponsible because groups don't do that [--] it is about one person
accepting a level of responsibility [and] that means ''I'm taking a risk and
it also means that I'm partially accountable for the result (sucessful or
otherwise)''".  As I see it, that conflicts with two related principles: (1)
that ASF projects are managed by a PMC, and (2) that the ASF exists in part
to "provide a vehicle for limiting legal exposure while participating in
open-source software projects."

I appreciate that reliance on an individual authority is ingrained in human
psychology.  It is much easier to seek the comfort of a single authority
figure than to have faith in the ability of a process or structure.

The flip-side of having a designated person is that person becomes a focus,
a crutch, a bottleneck, an obstacle when not available; other people start
waiting for Godot.  There is nothing on the above list that requires a
designated person.  IMO, it would be better for the PPMC (which includes the
Incubator PMC) to work collaboratively, seek out any of the experienced
persons to answer questions, synthesize its own consensus from everyone's
responses, and be collectively accountable for the project.

Healthy ASF Projects are neither leaderless nor headless.  They are run by
multiple heads -- individuals participating as peers -- converging on a
consensus.  Sometimes things may take longer than one person acting on their
own, but it often means a better result, and it ensures that the project's
lifespan is based upon its community, not an individual's participation.  It
is when this process breaks down that the PMC Chair needs to exercise its
individual authority, ideally to help restore the proper collaborative

	--- Noel

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