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Ideas to help Community Members become Committers [message #561002] Fri, 01 August 2008 14:59
Eclipse User
Originally posted by: dcarver.starstandard.org

This is a summary of a conversation I had with Ed Merks earlier in the
day, basically, there seems to be a common response from committers on
reasons why bugs aren't fixed, or certain enhancements aren't added.
Basically we don't have the time or resources, and as committers from
member companies get moved around, they aren't replaced by other
committers from other members, or it's difficult to get a community
member into place as a committer.

Some of this has to do with the barrier to entry that the community has
to go through. Many blog entries have been written, but it seems that
the blog sphere is getting a bit more vocal about it. I'll use as
example trying to get a summer of code student up and running to get his
XQuery Editor to the point where he could do the intersting stuff.

1. He struggled just trying to understand the documentation, and what
needed to be done to get started. I pointed him to several existing
editors that implemented similiar functionality, however many of these
classess were internal and not to be extended. Plus there was little
or no documentation on the internal classes.

2. Lack of documentation of all of eclipse classes. If a community
member wants to help fix a bug, if classes are clearly documented with
the bare minium of javadoc it makes it next to impossible to get started.

Community Members

These are things we've discussed in the past and still need to address.
The bigger issue is making it as easy for a Community member to become
a committer as it is for a Paying Member to have somebody become a
committer. Right now that barrier to entry is killing us from getting
more active community members as committers. Plus we are locking
ourselves into Knowledge Silos by keeping the commiter ranks as small as
they are.

Support and Access to Documentation:

While we have newsgroups, irc, and the wiki, not all of these resources
are available to people that are behind corporate firewalls.
Particularly the newsgroups (I'll get to the web based interface in a
second). Right now for a community member to understand all the
various processes, one has to go to multiple sites to get the
information. Unless the person is very determined they aren't going to
follow through. Yeah, I know we want determined people to be
committers, but everybody has a limited amount of time to waste just
trying to get started. So one recommendation would be for Eclipse to
actually use some of the projects it has going to provide a common
format and place for the process documentation. I'd suggest using EPF
Composer and generating a Website from that content so that it's all in
one place.

As for the newsgroups, I don't know how much time the Foundation spends
on custom builds of various pieces, but I'd like to see the foundation,
actually spend less time building stuff itself, and more time using
other open source projects for the services. Personally I'm not a huge
fan of the current Web based interface to Newsgroups. It doesn't
provide a good search mechanism, and no RSS feed support. There is a
free open source alternative that could be used and provides the same
functionality and more than what we have now:

http://web-news.sourceforge.net/

An alternative to the Newsgroups (which I know would put Ed through
withdrawl if we removed them completely), is to use a Web based Forum
software. There are several available.

I would also like to see the web interface to the newsgroups move to
their own url. Something like: support.eclipse.org, in which people
could get access to the newsgroups, and other Knowledge bases.

Committers Portal / Foundation Portal

Last item for discussion. This comes back to do you build it yourself
or do you use something that already exists. In some ways I think the
portal needs to use existing software instead of writting customized
software. We have in many ways the not invented here syndrom happening.
An alternative could be:

http://www.metadot.com/index.pl?iid=4119

There are many other options as well, some probably under friendlier
licenses, but it depends on what we plan to do with the software.

Bottom line, I think in order to help bring in fresh blood for the
committers that migrate off of projects for whatever reason we need to
give the community easier access and easier trail to becomming a
committer. I went through the process from a community perspective,
and it isn't as smooth a process as it should be, where as I don't
particularly see that the committers that come from paying members have
it as rough getting that status as does a community member.

If you made it this far, congratulations!!!

Dave
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