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Re: Why are large code drops damaging to a community?


On Wed, 31 Oct 2018 at 08:44, Myrle Krantz <myrle@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>
> On Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 10:32 PM James Dailey <jamespdailey@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> >
> > +1 on this civil discourse.
> >
> > I would like to offer that sometimes large code drops are unavoidable and
> > necessary.  Jim's explanation of httpd contribution of type 1 is a good
> > example.
>
> I suspect that Jim's example of Robert Thau's httpd contribution may
> not have been necessary were he working with the source control tools
> and methods available today.  That was in 1995.  Even when we assume
> it was necessary in 1995, it was risky and probably only succeeded
> because of an abundance of communication and real good will with the
> community.  I'm guessing though.  I haven't given up hope that Jim
> will provide more details.
>
> > I think we would find that many projects started with a large code drop
> > (maybe more than one) - a sufficient amount of code - to get a project
> > started.  When projects are young it would be normal and expected for this
> > to happen. It quickly gets a community to a "thing" that can be added to.
>
> Many do start with a large code drop.  They go through incubation, and
> sometimes fail to attract communities.  If they fail to attract
> communities, they eventually reach the attic.

FTR:

Podlings which fail to attract a community do not graduate - they are retired.
They do not go to the Attic, which is reserved for TLPs.

> Many projects also
> succeed in starting at the ASF with an empty repository and building
> from zero.  These are often very successful at attracting communities.
> People like to work on things in which they are empowered to
> participate in decision making.  People like the feeling of trust and
> community which results.  PLC4X which Chris Dutz is working on is an
> excellent example.
>
> > It obviously depends on the kinds of components, tools, frameworks, etc
> > that are being developed. Game theory is quite apropos - you need a
> > sufficient incentive for *timely* collaboration, of hanging together.
> >
> > Further, if your "thing" is going to be used directly in market (i.e. with
> > very little of a product wrapper ), then there is a strong *disincentive*
> > to share back the latest and greatest. The further from market immediacy
> > the easier it is to contribute. Both the Collaboration space and
> > Competitive space are clearly delineated, whereas in a close to market
> > immediacy situation you have too much overlap and therefore a built in
> > delay of code contribution to preserve market competitiveness.
>
> This is one important reason that there are very few full applications
> at the ASF.  Fortunately for Fineract, we don't have to function as a
> full application.  This might be an argument for our community to stay
> away from customer-facing front-ends.
>
> If working together with others on your code would cause you important
> market disadvantages, then you probably don't want to take part in
> open source as it is conceived at the Apache Software Foundation.  If
> a vendor's goal is simply to publish their source, then a plain old
> github account is probably the least expensive method available to
> that vendor.  If a vendor's goal is to dominate a project, then there
> are 501(c)6's out there which have the latitude to make that sort of
> collaboration possible.  Those are valid and reasonable approaches.
> The ASF isn't trying to compete in those spaces.  The ASF wants its
> projects to be built as a community of equals.
>
> > So, combining the "sufficient code to attract contribution" metric with the
> > market-immediacy metric and you can predict engagement by outside vendors
> > (or their contributors) in a project.
>
> A "Sufficient code" metric isn't one I've ever personally used to
> decide which project to contribute to.  I don't believe vendors use
> this either.  I think some developers are even turned off by the
> existence of massive amounts of code.  It triggers the "not invented
> here" complex many developers have. : o)  But I'm happy to look at
> data that shows I'm wrong.
>
> Perhaps  you mean a "sufficient business functionality" metric?  But
> even then, what I've seen more often is a "sufficiently healthy
> community" metric.  Ie: how long has the project existed, how long is
> it likely to continue to exist?  These are the questions I get asked
> by people outside of our project.
>
> > In such a situation, it is better, in
> > my view, to accept any and all branched code even if it is dev'd off-list.
>
> The Apache Software Foundation does not "accept any and all" off-list
> development.  There are reasonable arguments to be had about the grey
> areas and how far they extend, but there is *never* carte blanche.
>
> > This allows for inspection/ code examination and further exploration - at a
> > minimum.  Accepting on a branch is neither the same as accepting for
> > release, nor merging to master branch.
>
> Inspection/examination can also be accomplished on github.  We don't
> need to accept code into an Apache project in order to be able to see
> it.  If a vendor wishes to propose merging a branch, we can look at
> that code and determine whether it is inside or outside our project's
> grey area *before* we accept the code.  If code is large, that
> proposal can be made available in reviewable-sized chunks by the
> vendor, as Upayavira described doing.  This not only has the advantage
> of improving code quality, it also means community members have a
> chance to participate meaningfully in the decision-making process and
> learn how to work within the new code.  Learning by doing is always
> the deepest learning.
>
> > Now, the assumption that the code is better than what the community has
> > developed has to be challenged.  It could be that the branched code should
> > be judged only on the merits of the code (is it better and more complete),
> > or it could be judged on the basis that it "breaks the current build".
> > There can be a culture of a project to accept such code drops with the
> > caveat that if the merges cannot be done by the submitting group, then the
> > project will have a resistance to such submissions (you break it, you fix
> > it), or alternatively that there will be a small group of people that are
> > sourced from such delayed-contribution types - that work on doing the
> > merges.  The key seems to be to create the incentive to share code before
> > others do, to avoid being the one that breaks the build.
>
> Shall we call this the "preemptive architecture" approach?  Certainly
> programmers sometimes engage in this kind of adversarial behavior.
> I've seen it.  I've never been happy with the consequences.  I would
> not wish to work for a company which was racing to get there first
> with the largest possible chunk of code, with the consequence of
> failure being resolving months of merge conflicts.  Not to mention
> that there's more to software engineering than just lines of code to
> merge.  Entire problem-solving approaches can be in conflict.  And
> resolutions of these will involve more than just staring at a
> three-way merge of files all day.
>
> The consequences for employees aside, it doesn't seem likely that
> anybody in the scenario you describe actually has time to test the new
> code or its merge, nor to participate in the community aspects of
> teaching others about the code being contributed and collaborating
> with people outside their company.  I'd be very concerned about the
> quality of code produced using this approach.
>
> I hope we can avoid incentivizing vendors to treat their employees and
> our projects this way.
>
> Best Regards,
> Myrle
>
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