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From Ross Gardler <>
Subject Re: Incubator, or "Incubation"?
Date Fri, 03 Feb 2012 09:59:05 GMT
On 3 February 2012 01:13, Marvin Humphrey <> wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 03, 2012 at 12:52:33AM +0100, Leo Simons wrote:
>> The basic idea is to split the current single really big group that is
>> the incubator into smaller groups that still cooperate and discuss and
>> whatnot, but are accountable and overseen separately. These smaller
>> groups become their own committees with their own VPs that report to
>> the Board.
>> Is that a reasonable re-statement of the abstract idea? Is that
>> something we can all get behind?

I have *not* had time to digest this thread yet. So my comments below
are based on the above re-statement of the abstract idea.

I promised some details about my past experiences leading a team to
provide mentoring to over 600 UK institutions with over 1000 projects
active at any one time (note that does not mean we had hands on
activity with all those projects, in fact not all of them were
software development projects, in reality we handled hundreds not
thousands, but then we were only 5 people, only one of which knew real
open development and only one other was technical). Unfortunately I
have not had the time to get this down into a sensible post and the
discussions here have been far too fast moving for me to keep up
during this busy time outside the ASF.

That being said, the approach I eventually took in that previous
activity was to encourage individuals to own "verticals", that is
areas of work that the individual was interested in. Somewhere where
they could get direct personal benefit from being involved with these

Where the individuals doing this work cared about the work they were
doing (i.e. it wasn't "just" a job) this strategy worked very well.

We developed a defined support plan. This provided models by which we
could evaluate the community progress of the project and, more
importantly, identified where the weakest points were. This helped
guide the allocation of community focused resources within the
projects and their mentors. I've never introduced this here because I
believe volunteers would find the idea of "measuring" (or worse being
measured) distasteful. Indeed we never told the projects of the
results of their evaluation, or even that we were doing them for this
reason. We just used them as internal tools.

Here in the ASF I don't think there is such a strong need for these
tools. In principle our mentors should know what to focus on next,
they shouldn't need the tool, they have personal experience.
Nevertheless, as the incubator has grown we have found that
differences of opinion about the best way to do things result in very
confused messages for our podlings. Whilst I don't think using a
formal evaluation tool is a good idea here, I do think documentation
of the mentoring process around the kind of evaluations we did would
be a good idea. We don't need all projects applying guidelines in
exactly the same way, but we do need some consistency in the generic
advice we give podlings. It is for this reason I asked (elsewhere) for
the nominees for the PMC chair to describe how they would like to work
with ComDev moving forwards. I would be happy for ComDev to help in
this regard, I have not spoken to the ComDev PMC as I still don't have
the concise statement of intent that I requested.


> Completing such a task will be a lot of work, and who knows what complications
> and disagreements lie ahead?  We have an incremental solution in front of us
> which mitigates some of our most pressing problems: the measured expansion of
> Joe Schaefer's successful "experiment" to add PPMC Members who have
> demonstrated a thorough understanding of the Apache Way to the IPMC.
> I don't support this boil-the-ocean revamp if it blocks the less ambitious
> reforms.  An indefinite period where release votes continue to drag on for
> weeks is unacceptable.
> Marvin Humphrey
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Ross Gardler (@rgardler)
Programme Leader (Open Development)

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