incubator-general mailing list archives

Site index · List index
Message view « Date » · « Thread »
Top « Date » · « Thread »
From David Nalley <>
Subject Podlings, the Incubator, relationships and Apache
Date Thu, 20 Jun 2019 17:04:07 GMT
There's been a lot of discussion in various threads about bureaucracy,
whether podlings are part of the ASF, etc. As a result of that I've
spent a good deal of time reading resolutions and older discussions
and organizing those thoughts from a legal and community perspective.
I've also read a number of conversations from the more august members
of our body about this subject. Altogether it has somewhat changed
some of my opinions and assumptions. I've also sensed that there is a
community/business/legal disconnect in our conversations. We're using
the same words to mean very different things in each of those
contexts. That said I am but one member of the IPMC, but maybe this
will be helpful to someone else - I've tried to avoid my assumptions
in this.

The IPMC's first 'job'[1] is "accepting new products into the
Foundation" The second 'job' of the IPMC is to "provide guidance and
support to ensure that the Incubator's sub-projects[2] develop
products according to the Foundation's philosophy and guidelines". The
final 'job' is evaluating the products and determining whether they
should be abandoned, continue to receive guidance and support, or be
promoted to "full project status".

So there are several realizations I gained from this from the
Incubator perspective.
1. Acceptance into the Incubator is acceptance of the product into the
2. That product is then a sub-project of the Incubator.
3. The IPMC has the "primary responsibility for the management of
those subprojects".

>From the Foundation's perspective there are a number of things that
come to mind:
1. We aren't a github/sourceforge/google code type platform where
random people can upload/post what they want.
2. We do not have DMCA Safe Harbor protection - e.g. we are
responsible for everything that we publish or distribute. With the
exception of wikis and bug trackers anyone who can put something up on
an Apache property has some form of legal relationship with the
Foundation. This could be as simple as an ICLAs where you've
contractually said you won't contribute anything you don't have rights
3. Most of the project's who have come to us aren't entities in and of
themselves. E.g. the 'project' doesn't truly exist from a legal entity
perspective - and even those who do are at best an unincorporated
association of individuals. From a legal perspective - projects can't
make or distribute a release - they don't exist - only the ASF and the
individual(s) doing the work. Given that one of the explicit reasons
the Foundation was created was to[5]: "provide a means for individual
volunteers to be sheltered from legal suits"; we want them to create
and distribute releases as the Foundation.
4. Whether we like it or not - the Foundation is judged on the output
from our projects and subprojects. We have a reputation of having
clean IP, permissively licensed open source code, with clear
provenance. Many people explicitly copy our standards, guidelines, and
policies because they are the gold standard for good open source
5. Disclaimers generally don't remove liability, and even if they did,
our disclaimer talks about the maturity of our projects. - And it
certainly doesn't remove the public's expectations from us - frankly -
losing the publics trust is as scary as the potential legal liability.
6. The Board has delegated the responsibility of managing and ensuring
adherence to policies and guidelines to the IPMC. I don't see this
responsibility as boolean. It's not perfect compliance vs. failure.
IMO, the IPMC has been delegated the decision making process, and may
often find themselves making the business decision that an imperfect
release is better than a community stalled for months or years. Don't
let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

>From a podling's perspective:
1. Once you join the incubator you're a part of the ASF (Yay!?)
2. Your project is now a subproject of the IPMC.
3. There are rules, and you're entering a world of pain[4] In fact,
you're likely to find that the ASF has more rules and structure that
apply to projects than virtually any other home your project could
choose. This is good and bad.
4. The incubator has a long, storied history of producing successful
projects that flourish.

[2] What we call Podlings, the initial resolution refers to as
subprojects of the Incubator
[3] It's worth noting that there were two resolutions proposed to
create the Incubator - small differences, but interesting to read the

To unsubscribe, e-mail:
For additional commands, e-mail:

View raw message