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From: "Thomas S. Dye" <tsd@tsdye.online>
To: emacs-orgmode@gnu.org
Subject: Re: Concerns about community contributor support
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2021 13:29:23 -1000	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <87y2dg4hik.fsf@tsdye.online> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <87pmyuyssi.fsf@gmail.com>

Aloha Timothy,

As a long-time follower of this list and a devoted, if often 
ignorant or confused, user of Org mode, I'd like to give my 
perspective on your concerns, which I find genuine and IMHO 
intended to further the Org mode project.

I was drawn to Org mode when Eric Schulte and Dan Davison were 
implementing Org babel.  At the time, I had dabbled in literate 
programming and was using reproducible research practices in my 
work, so the babel project made sense to me and I was thrilled to 
find a couple of terrific programmers working on what to my mind 
was a beautiful implementation of these ideas.

I knew about Carsten Dominik from his work with RefTeX, which I 
also used in my work,
but got to know him better as the creator and maintainer of Org 
mode.  My impression of Carsten was an indefatigable worker whose 
vision of what Org mode might be kept growing as the user base 
expanded and diversified.

The mailing list was a different place back then, less technical 
and open to more noise than it is today.  It was a place that 
understood the importance of kindness for a collaboration of 
volunteers.  I think the list has done an admirable job of 
maintaining the ethos of kindness, but Org mode development is in 
a new phase that *requires* technique and is quicker to identify 
and filter out noise.  When Bastien took over as maintainer after 
Carsten exhausted himself working on Org mode (my interpretation), 
Nicolas Goaziou took over most of the coding work.  His brief was 
clearly to put the Org mode code into better order, which he did 
with astonishing efficiency and expertise (at least from my often 
ignorant and confused perspective).  His work on the syntax, 
exporter, linter, and manual represents IMHO an outstanding 
contribution to Org mode.  I'm sure there are other important 
contributions that I'm not remembering right now.  My point is 
that the project changed from one that was expanding its own 
vision of what it might be to one that was working to ensure that 
it wouldn't collapse from its own weight.

Kyle Meyer is the next step in this direction, whose efforts have 
helped tame the discussions on the Org mode list with a remarkable 
facility for threading together the various strands of discussion, 
some of which have histories that comprise several years. 
Combined with a command of git, his work has brought the 
discussion into closer contact with the development of the code 

These changes mean that contributions need to be checked for 
contributions to Nicolas' project and also fit into the history of 
discussion and development.  The Org mode project now resembles a 
scholarly discipline that moves slowly and deliberately toward a 
more or less well defined goal.  The days when Carsten would bang 
out a new feature during his train ride home from work are gone.

Bastien did recently call for maintainers, though IIRC he was 
interested in ox-* and ob-* maintainers more than org-* 
maintainers.  If enough good programmers heed his call, then there 
might be some progress on the concerns you raise.  But, my sense 
is that patches to Org mode proper will continue to be adopted 
slowly and deliberately.  It would be a shame if that pace put off 
talented programmers, but my sense FWIW is that the pace might be 
necessary until the code base is fully tamed.

All the best,

Timothy <tecosaur@gmail.com> writes:

> Dear all,
> Over the last few months I have felt an increasing level of 
> concern over
> the lack of response to patches. This email is rather long, but 
> please,
> bear with me. The goal is to start a discussion on the problems 
> this
> creates, and consider short and long-term solutions.
> When both community and maintainer response to new patches is 
> lacking,
> many first-time contributors are actively dissuaded from 
> contributing
> again. Furthermore, each patch represents a considerable time 
> investment
> --- particularly if it's from an individual who is new to the 
> mailing
> list / patch workflow. Org-mode is not "done" and still requires 
> the
> support of long-term contributors to keep improving, anything 
> that
> discourages them from contributing back to the community needs 
> to be
> carefully understood and resolved if we want to continue 
> harmoniously.
> Take for example Jay Bosamiya's patch from September last year 
> [1]. It
> appears to be his first submission to this mailing list, and yet 
> there
> has been absolutely no response to it. There are currently 24 
> other
> patches listed on the updates.orgmode.org which have seen no 
> response
> from this community, some of which are from first-time 
> contributors.
> There are 36 other patches with at least two replies, but yet to 
> be
> resolved. Bastien's updates.orgmode.org is fantastic in helping 
> prevent
> contributions slip through the cracks, but it is also 
> highlighting the
> lack of community response to a significant number of patches.
> This mailing list was my first experience with an email+patch 
> based
> contribution workflow. Thankfully, I received prompt and 
> friendly
> feedback and was guided through the adjustments needed so it 
> could be
> merged in a timely manner. Should my patch have been similarly 
> ignored,
> I would have been quite disheartened; it is not an overstatement 
> to say
> I would likely have written off this mailing list and not tried 
> again.
> Simply put, this is not good enough. This does a disservice to 
> those
> that have dedicated time and effort to try and better this 
> project only
> to be ignored. Not rejected, not even acknowledged, nothing.
> It is imperative that this community improves our response to
> contributions for the long-term health of this project. Do not 
> take me
> to be a doomsayer; I have faith that Org is going to keep on 
> improving
> regardless. However, failing to welcome and encourage 
> contributors has a
> deleterious effect on the health of the project.
> I do not blame the maintainers in the slightest. As Bastien 
> brought up
> in a recent worg discussion, as time goes on we find ourselves 
> taking on
> more and more life responsibilities. Therefore it's in our best 
> interest
> to delegate some of the maintainer responsibilities to 
> consistently
> active, and supportive community members to "pass down the 
> torch" so the
> community and platform can continue to expand with grace and 
> care.
> What can the community do?
> I don't know of any silver bullet, but I believe there are some 
> steps
> which could help, namely:
> + The development and publication of "reasonable expectations" 
> which
>   contributors should have when submitting a patch, and that the
>   maintainers should strive to uphold (e.g. "expect a response 
>   within
>   <some timeframe>").
> + A community effort/sprint to respond to those patches that 
> have been
>   seemingly abandoned
> + Onboarding of new maintainers, when reasonable and suitable 
> candidates
>   exist (I'd very willingly throw my hat in the ring for 
>   consideration).
>   If it's too much work, spread it out as much as possible.
> If any other ideas come to mind, please share them so we can 
> discuss
> them further.
> Finally, it's not all bad.
> While this discussion has called for some criticism, I don't 
> want to
> give the false impression that I think nothing is working and 
> nobody is
> supporting contributors. This is not the case at all, there are 
> some
> standout individuals one the mailing list who have been 
> fantastic. Kudos
> to you all.
> My best to everyone,
> Timothy
> [1] 
> https://orgmode.org/list/CAOywxZg1cBL07THLZXHBBCzm6te2vMtqnmM0w63331gybrjZuw@mail.gmail.com/
> [2] https://orgmode.org/list/87h7qi2l2m.fsf@gmail.com/

Thomas S. Dye

  reply	other threads:[~2021-04-17 23:30 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 55+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2021-04-16 18:43 Timothy
2021-04-17 23:29 ` Thomas S. Dye [this message]
2021-04-18  1:56   ` Tim Cross
2021-04-18 19:39     ` Timothy
2021-04-18 22:45       ` Tim Cross
2021-04-19 21:43     ` David Masterson
2021-04-19 22:21       ` Gustav Wikström
2021-04-23  0:16         ` David Masterson
2021-04-19 23:46       ` Tim Cross
2021-04-20  8:21         ` Tom Gillespie
2021-04-23  0:34           ` David Masterson
2021-04-20  9:28       ` Jean Louis
2021-04-23  0:38         ` David Masterson
2021-04-18  5:04   ` Timothy
2021-04-18 18:45     ` Thomas S. Dye
2021-04-18 19:12       ` Timothy
2021-04-18 19:46         ` Thomas S. Dye
2021-04-18 19:59           ` Timothy
     [not found] ` <a64adc3de7be49039372851ea31e4f7c@VI1PR0102MB3327.eurprd01.prod.exchangelabs.com>
2021-04-19 10:04   ` Eric S Fraga
2021-04-20  3:54     ` Timothy
2021-04-19 22:07 ` Gustav Wikström
2021-04-21  9:33   ` Jean Louis
2021-04-21  9:50     ` Tim Cross
2021-04-21 10:25       ` Heinz Tuechler
2021-04-21 12:55         ` ian martins
2021-04-21 13:07         ` Timothy
     [not found]         ` <1c557c0e35e04440ba2dadfe57e5b590@VI1PR0102MB3327.eurprd01.prod.exchangelabs.com>
2021-04-21 13:27           ` Eric S Fraga
2021-04-21 15:31             ` ian martins
2021-04-21 15:38               ` Bruce D'Arcus
2021-04-21 19:35                 ` Tim Cross
2021-04-22  0:36                   ` ian martins
2021-04-22  0:48                     ` Tim Cross
2021-04-22  2:35                       ` Timothy
2021-04-22  5:14                         ` Maintaining babel packages — a list of packages that need help? Dr. Arne Babenhauserheide
2021-04-22 10:10                           ` ian martins
2021-04-26  7:25                           ` Bastien
2021-04-22 10:00                       ` Concerns about community contributor support ian martins
2021-04-21 19:31             ` Tim Cross
2021-04-25  4:30 ` Bastien
2021-04-25  5:52   ` Contributor Steward role (was Re: Concerns about community contributor support) Timothy
2021-04-25  7:13     ` Bastien
2021-04-25  6:17   ` Concerns about community contributor support Tim Cross
2021-04-25  7:19     ` Bastien
2021-04-26  0:23       ` Tim Cross
2021-04-26  5:00         ` Bastien
2021-04-26  6:07           ` Tim Cross
2021-04-26  7:34             ` Bastien
2021-04-25 10:10   ` Help with reproducing bugs reported on this list (was: Concerns about community contributor support) Bastien
2021-04-27  6:28     ` Help with reproducing bugs reported on this list Bastien
2021-04-25 21:40   ` Concerns about community contributor support Nick Savage
2021-04-26  7:22     ` Bastien
2021-04-29 14:07 ` D
2021-04-29 14:16   ` Bastien
2021-04-29 14:44     ` D
2021-04-29 14:29   ` Ihor Radchenko

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