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Re: Patch committers

From: Emmanuel Cecchet <manu(at)frogthinker(dot)org>
To: Bruce Momjian <bruce(at)momjian(dot)us>
Cc: Peter Eisentraut <peter_e(at)gmx(dot)net>, Robert Haas <robertmhaas(at)gmail(dot)com>, pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Patch committers
Date: 2009-11-12 03:30:55
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-hackers
The following email expresses my personal opinion and does not reflect 
the opinion of my employers.

Bruce Momjian wrote:
> I also think the bad economy is making it harder for people/companies to
> devote time to community stuff when paid work is available.
Actually the bad economy should be a booster for open source projects. 
There should be more developers with time to acquire new skills on 
projects that will get them a better job when the economy comes back.

I think the problems are more rooted in the developer community itself. 
The pg-hackers mailing list is probably the less socially skilled 
developer community I have ever seen in all the open source projects I 
have been involved with. A very high standard is set for contributions, 
which is good for the quality of the code, but the lack of development 
process and clear decision chain turns every new contributor into 
endless frustration. For a patch to be committed, a vague consensus has 
to arise among the strong technical voice(s) (usually convincing Tom is 
enough). If a more complex feature needs to be implemented, the lack of 
decision process ends up in a first long round of emails until everybody 
gets tired of it. Then sometimes later someone tries to re-activate the 
debate for another round and so on (partitioning is a good example). You 
lost potential committers at each of these rounds.

The way I see it, most companies try to push their agenda, contribute 
their patches back to the community if it works and just go with their 
own fork and closed implementation if this is too much work or burden. 
Whatever the economy, very few people can commit to an indefinite amount 
of time to get a feature integrated in Postgres.

Now you should probably ask yourself what you should do as a community 
to get more committers? Like it was said at PGCon, to get a patch in, it 
is going to be hard and painful. How do you make it less hard and less 

On the other end, how do we, simple developers, become better to reach 
the status of committers? How can we endure the constant bashing 
especially in the early stages of our learning phase (especially if you 
are not paid to do it)? How do we justify to our employers that they 
should persist through this long process without visibility, so that 
eventually their contribution will make it back to the community? How do 
we make it easier for companies to contribute code?

The lightness of the development process (no project manager, no 
steering committee, no voting, no product management, ...) is both a 
strength and a weakness that makes Postgres what it is today. The 
commitfest started to address some of the most obvious issues but there 
is probably much more that can be done by looking at what is happening 
in the other open source communities.

Even if the economy is hard, I found time to invest my own 2 cents in 
this email ;-)


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