[openstack-dev] The Evolution of core developer to maintainer?

John Griffith john.griffith8 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 1 00:24:38 UTC 2015

On Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 4:30 PM, Joe Gordon <joe.gordon0 at gmail.com> wrote:

> I am starting this thread based on Thierry's feedback on [0].  Instead of
> writing the same thing twice, you can look at the rendered html from that
> patch [1]. Neutron tried to go from core to maintainer but after input from
> the TC and others, they are keeping the term 'core' but are clarifying what
> it means to be a neutron core [2]. [2] does a very good job of showing how
> what it means to be core is evolving.  From
> "everyone is a dev and everyone is a reviewer. No committers or repo
> owners, no aristocracy. Some people just commit to do a lot of reviewing
> and keep current with the code, and have votes that matter more (+2)."
> (Theirry)
> To a system where cores are more then people who have votes that matter
> more. Neutron's proposal tries to align that document with what is already
> happening.
> 1. They share responsibility in the project's success.
> 2. They have made a long-term, recurring time investment to improve the
> project.
> 3. They spend their time doing what needs to be done to ensure the
> projects success, not necessarily what is the most interesting or fun.
> I think there are a few issues at the heart of this debate:
> 1. Our current concept of a core team has never been able to grow past 20
> or so people, even for really big projects like nova and cinder. Why is
> that?  How do we delegate responsibility for subsystems? How do we keep
> growing?
> 2. If everyone is just developers and reviewers who is actually
> responsible for the projects success? How does that mesh with the ideal of
> no 'aristocracy'? Do are early goals still make sense today?
> Do you feel like a core deveper/reviewer (we initially called them core
> developers) [1]:
> In OpenStack a core developer is a developer who has submitted enough high
> quality code and done enough code reviews that we trust their code reviews
> for merging into the base source tree. It is important that we have a
> process for active developers to be added to the core developer team.
> Or a maintainer [1]:
> 1. They share responsibility in the project’s success.
> 2. They have made a long-term, recurring time investment to improve the
> project.
> 3. They spend that time doing whatever needs to be done, not necessarily
> what is the most interesting or fun.
> Maintainers are often under-appreciated, because their work is harder to
> appreciate. It’s easy to appreciate a really cool and technically advanced
> feature. It’s harder to appreciate the absence of bugs, the slow but steady
> improvement in stability, or the reliability of a release process. But
> those things distinguish a good project from a great one.
> [0] https://review.openstack.org/#/c/163660/
> [1]
> http://docs-draft.openstack.org/60/163660/3/check/gate-governance-docs/f386acf//doc/build/html/resolutions/20150311-rename-core-to-maintainers.html
> [2] https://review.openstack.org/#/c/164208/
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Hey Joe,

I mentioned in last weeks TC meeting that I didn't really see a burning
need to change or create new "labels"; but that's probably beside the
point.  So if I read this it really comes down to a number of people in the
community want "core" to mean something more than "special reviewer" is
that right?  I mean regardless of whether you change the name from "core"
to "maintainer" I really don't care.  If it makes some folks feel better to
have that title/label associated with themselves that's cool by me (yes I
get the *extra* responsibilities part you lined out).

What is missing for me here however is "who picks these special people".
I'm convinced that this does more to promote the idea of "special"
contributors than anything else.  Maybe that's actually what you want, but
it seemed based on your message that wasn't the case.

Anyway, core nominations are fairly objective in my opinion and is *mostly*
based on number of reviews and perceived quality of those reviews (measured
somewhat by disagreement rates etc).  What are the metrics for this special
group of folks that you're proposing we empower and title as maintainers?
Do I get to be a "maintainer", is it reserved for a special group of
people, a specific company?  What's the criteria? Do *you* get to be a

What standards are *Maintainers* held to?  Who/How do we decide he/she is
doing their job?  Are there any rules about representation and interests
(keeping the team of people balanced).  What about the work by those
"maintainers" that introduces more/new bugs?

My feeling on this is that yes a lot of this sort of thing is happening
naturally on its own and that's a pretty cool thing IMO.  What you're
saying though is you want to formalize it?  Is the problem that people
don't feel like they're getting recognition or credit that they deserve?
The "nobody wants to work on the not fun stuff" I kinda get, and yeah..
that happens.  I'd argue though there are a good number of people that are
however jumping in on things outside of features.

It's sort of funny looking back over the years.  We used to complain over
and over that "we don't have enough reviewers", and that "reviewing is
crucial but under appreciated work".  Since then there's all sorts of
people striving to spend time doing reviews and provide in some cases real
constructive feedback.

Now we seem to be saying "reviewing isn't where it's at, anybody can do
that; bug fixes is the new coolness".  I think there are others way to
address this by the way, possibly more effective ways.  Heck, you could
even do commit credits; it costs five bug fixes to the overall project
before you can commit a feature (ok, don't take me seriously there).

Maybe I'm misinterpreting some of this, maybe there's something in
between.  Regardless I personally need a good deal more detail before I
form my opinion.


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