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From Leo Simons <>
Subject Re: Roles: user, committer, member, etc.
Date Tue, 13 Sep 2005 09:19:02 GMT
On Mon, Sep 12, 2005 at 08:16:49PM +1000, David Crossley wrote:
> One thing that is bothering at the ASF is not having a
> clear definition of the various roles.

Hmmm. I think there's a lot of people not bothered though. Not being clear may even serve
a purpose.

> We seem to be having endless discussions at some
> projects about what it means to be a committer and
> a PMC member and an ASF member.

Indeed. I have a hunch that "re-inventing the collaboration wheel" is a significant part of
apache way". An organisational structure that is completely patching itself at every level
has a lot 
of appeal.

Other projects *never* discuss any of this. They just write code.

> It seems that over the years too much distinction
> has been made and some the roles have become confused.
> For example [4] says that "committers" have the
> right to vote on community-related decisions
> and [5] has that as the PMC member.

As the ASF has grown, it has also grown more formal. If you look back (for example) to the

beginnings of and later you'll see that there wasn't a
whole lot 
of design to the seperation between these roles. Heh. was a  rather sizeable

trademark violation. Can you imagine something like that happening now?

If you go a little further back in time, eg

there is no definition of "committer" or "member" or "pmc", just "Apache Group members", which
not further defined.

As Jakarta people "moved up the ranks" the process documentation written (I think by Jon Stevens

initially) moved up with them. When that happened people disagreed with that process and it
patched. Some patches found their way back into the processes of various TLPs. Which bits
been overly co-ordinated.


TCL talks of a "project maintainership committee". HTTPD still refers to "Apache Group" every
and then. Maven, SpamAssassin and Geronimo don't describe their processes at all on their
XML says "The Chairman or any member may be removed from the PMC by a 3/4 vote of the PMC"
which is 
false (the chairman is a board-appointed officer and cannot be removed by the PMC at all).
Gump defines 
"committer" but doesn't actually really keep track of them (when gump went TLP there was really
initial list of people that might be considered PMC members) because all of Apache is allowed
mess around with the code. Beehive has 0 pages devoted to saying something like "get involved!",
only thing that comes close is a news blurb on their front page. SpamAssassin has a list of
members at the top of their CREDITS file with links to Amazon wishlists. That's smart innit!

There are only a few truly authoritive references:


I think none of these ever talk of "committers" formally.

Also note that the second one specifically tasks new PMCs with defining their own bylaws,

       RESOLVED, that the initial XXX PMC be and hereby is
       tasked with the creation of a set of bylaws intended to
       encourage open development and increased participation in the
       XXX Project.

yet there are loads of projects that don't have anything marked as "bylaws". So we have a
going through two years of incubation and community building, then they are tasked with only
a few 
things (oversight, project growth, establish bylaws) and they often fail 1/3 of that task.

We have *loads* of inconsistencies, and a lot of the stuff on the main foundation site is
consistent with stuff on the pages of many TLPs. I don't think we're going to be able to solve
completely, and I think the incubator shouldn't task itself with that either.

> I think that the first two sentences of the PMC
> role in [5] need to move back into the Committer role.

Hmm. That page does seem a little out-of-sync with common practice.

> The PMC role should then stress that it is up to
> each project to define the composition of its PMC.

Actually I think that is up to the VP for the project, formally, which was established through

> If no-one says otherwise, then i will change that.

I'm not saying otherwise :-)

> I presume that even though committers can vote on
> project decisions, it is still its PMC that has
> the binding votes.

Officially, "committer" does not exist, so, officially, a "committer" cannot do anything "binding"

on behalf of the ASF. If someone uploads a release somewhere without a PMC vote, then that
action is 
not on behalf of the ASF. Etc.

> Are there any other clarifications that are needed?

I dunno. I don't know where you're coming from, eg I'm not too sure what problem you're solving.

Hope this helped a little, regardless :-)



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