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From Reto Gmür <>
Subject Re: [DISCUSS] Mentor neutrality policy
Date Sun, 11 Oct 2015 16:52:42 GMT
On Sat, Oct 10, 2015 at 11:40 AM, Roman Shaposhnik <>

> On Fri, Oct 9, 2015 at 6:07 PM, Daniel Gruno <> wrote:
> > Hi Incubator folks,
> >
> > I would like to propose we adopt a mentor neutrality policy for
> > incubating podlings:
> >
> > - A mentor must not be financially tied to the project or its incubation
> > status.
> I'm very strongly -1 on this for two reasons. One fundamental
> and one operational. Fundamentally, this goes against a core
> ASF principle that we all collaborate here as individuals by
> checking our corporate affiliation at the door.

I think it's naive to think that just because the members are individual
and corporate affiliations don't formally play a role there is no influence
by the employer. When I'm paid by a company or government agency to work on
an apache project I don't have an effective protection against the
directives of my employer. Maybe if I refuse to follow an employer's
instruction to write some code for an Apache project of which I'm committer
I could not be fired without notice, maybe I could write the patch and say
on the list that I wrote this patch for my employer but that as an
individual PMC member I vote against it (did something like this ever
happen?), whichever way I'm likely to act against my financial interest.

In medical journals the author's are also writing in their own name, yet
they must declare all competing interests. Following your logic such as
declaration would be unnecessary if the journal says somewhere that authors
leave their affiliation at the door.

> IOW, we are explicitly granting our members and committers the trust
> required to make sure they do the right thing while they themselves (or
> their employees) can significantly benefit (financially and otherwise) from
> the projects.

Even if we trust our commiters that they do not commit a hidden back door
on behalf of the spy agency they work for, the conflict of interest can be
much more subtle. The company has a deadline and a release of an apache
project before that deadline would come in very handy, will you scrutinize
the notice files at the risk of finding something that delays the release?

If a main customer of my consulting firm is the main promoter of the XY
file format, will I by neutral in choosing the best file format for the
Apache Project I'm involved in? I probably really believe that XY is the
way to go, but is should be an Apache rule that I declare that I have some
financial ties to it.

> This is what makes ASF unique and anything that goes even slightly
> in the direction of reducing this level of trust will have me up in arms
> (regardless of whether it is related to Incubator or not).
> Operationally, this is extremely tricky to enforce. I speak here
> from experience of somebody who has to be appreciative of the same
> set of issues while consulting for companies and yet working for my
> current employer. Even in a corporate world (where stakes are much
> higher from legal perspective) this typically gets handled by trusting
> the individual to do the right thing and disclose any potential conflict
> of interest (financial or otherwise).

We would not have to ask people for their tax declaration, a self
declaration of any potentially competing interest would do.


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