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From "Martijn Dashorst" <>
Subject Outside view on incubator policy to initial committer list
Date Tue, 03 Oct 2006 19:38:12 GMT

Just to pose an outsider view, being new to the ASF and not to hijack
the discussion on the CFX/CeltiXFire, I would like to share my views
on the policy of the incubator.

>From the documents I have read on the policy for entering, being
inside and graduating from the incubator there is a lot of talk on
process, but not a lot of explanation on *why* the process is in
place, nor on how things are done.

The first 'gripe' is the uncertainty for existing open source projects
that want to join the ASF that their current contributors will be
allowed to work on the project at Apache. The documents clearly state
that such karma needs to be earned based on merit. It never states
that merit earned in the past for the project can and *WILL* be used.
This can only be found in heated discussions on this list.

You will find in such discussions a variety of views, but the most
restrictive, and in my opinion negative for existing projects is the
one that wants only the mentors being on the initial PPMC/committers
list, and have the incubating community earn their merit on apache
ground using patches, mailinglist activity and whatnot, without giving
the originating developers the karma to commit directly in Apache
incubator SVN for the project. This is very damaging for a project
that is already active outside the ASF and will grind it to a halt.

If the prevailing opinion is that previously gained merit outside the
ASF is taken into account, the policy should note that explicitly.

The second gripe is the fact that only the Incubator PMC members of
the PPMC have binding votes. I think I understand the reasoning for
this, but it is not clear how the PMC members will excercise their
binding votes. Will they affect the average day-to-day affairs within
a community where the mentors have no direct affiliation with? Or is
this only a guiding vote, for things such as:
 - withholding a release when the podling is not considered ready
 - not granting karma (with good backing reasoning)
 - not taking in external code bases without the correct grant
 - etc.
The policy should make it clear that the PPMC chairs with the binding
votes, only have that executive power to vote on such things regarding

The third gripe is that graduation has two components: a measurable
component (active community, diverse, all legal matters resolved, no
violating code, etc) and a non-measurable component (mature enough to
be an 'apache' project). Given the sometimes extreme views expressed
here (a nice read though :-), it is for an existing project really
hard to trust such a process when you already have a healthy community
which is basically put on hold whilst incubating, if you follow the
incubator policy (and some egos) to the letter.

Note that I understand the opposite views presented in the CFX case
and I sympathize with all of them. I just wanted to express a view of
someone coming from the outside, and looking at the process as it
takes place.

For existing projects it is a very hard decision to enter the
incubator and the uncertain process until graduation. As the ASF you
(we I should say) really have to put yourself into the shoes and
clothes of the small community that is about to join a rollercoaster
with unknown process, procedures, laws and above all, unwritten rules
of conduct. It is quite something when a team has worked for 2 years
two or three jobs worth of free time  on a project and it 'hands it
over to the incubator'. Scary poo indeed.


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