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Re: On commit access, patch review, and remaining healthy

From: Ludovic Courtès
Subject: Re: On commit access, patch review, and remaining healthy
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2022 23:43:36 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/28.1 (gnu/linux)

Hi Arun,

Arun Isaac <> skribis:

> Tooling aside, at least for me, I think there is an important emotional
> and psychological aspect to patch review. Maybe others share it too. So,
> I'll speak up.

Thanks a lot for speaking up, your feedback is invaluable.

I did consider that the whole process could be intimidated; that even an
experienced contributor like you finds it intimidating is a red flag to

> Sometimes, I don't review and commit patches because I feel like I am
> not qualified to review them, and am afraid of pushing a "bad
> commit". Guix has very high coding standards (which I very much
> appreciate, BTW), but that means that there is a high cost of failure
> and a pressure to live up to that high standard. This means that even if
> I'm 99% sure of a commit, I tend to leave it to others because of that
> nagging 1% doubt I have about some trivial aspect of the patch. The 1%
> doubt could even be about really trivial things like indentation or the
> name of a variable. In other words, perfectionism causes paralysis.

OK, understood.

I can think of two ways to reassure committers:

  1. By having clear reviewer check lists (you’d do that if you tick all
     the boxes, you’re fine);

  2. By improving automation—nothing new here: if there was a tick that
     says “applies without merge conflicts” and another one that read
     “builds fine”, anyone could lightheartedly hit the “merge” button.

#2 is going to take time I’m afraid, but at least #1 is actionable
(‘guix lint’ should help, too).

WDYT?  Are there other possibilities that come to mind?

> This excessive self-doubt is created by feeling like one doesn't
> "belong" in the elite community of Guix hackers. This problem may be
> alleviated somewhat by having more frequent (say, once in 3–4 months)
> meetups and encouraging participation by shy people like myself. Having
> human non-technical relationships with other members of the Guix
> community can also go a long way. The WhereIsEveryone meetups already
> help greatly. Perhaps Ricardo's idea of guix-mentors is another
> direction worth pursuing.

That’s a more subjective aspect, but a crucial one.  That perception of
an elite hacker community and the corresponding impostor syndrome are
problematic.  We long-time contributors should meditate that.

And yes, we should take advantage of the WhereIsEveryone meetups and
guix-mentors to get to know each other, to help each other, and to
demystify the whole thing.

> If this same thread had come up a year or two ago, I would most likely
> have remained silent. The only reason I feel alright talking today is
> because recently I have got to know more members of the community
> "face-to-face" (through online meetings), and feel more comfortable
> opening up. I generally prefer text-only communication like email, but
> sometimes, putting a human face on people and having a casual
> conversation about nothing in particular, goes a long long way.


Thank you for sharing how you feel about the process, it’s much


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