[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Concerns about community contributor support

From: Timothy
Subject: Concerns about community contributor support
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2021 02:43:09 +0800
User-agent: mu4e 1.4.15; emacs 28.0.50

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,


[2] https://orgmode.org/list/87h7qi2l2m.fsf@gmail.com/

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]