[arch-dev-public] Improving overall experience for contributors

Bartłomiej Piotrowski bpiotrowski at archlinux.org
Wed May 24 11:08:18 UTC 2017

On 2017-05-23 22:47, Gaetan Bisson wrote:
> In my opinion writing emails to strangers should be part of the
> application process. In my duties as packager maintainer I often find
> myself writing emails to various persons I've never met: other distro
> devs, upstream maintainers, etc. I'm sure the same goes for all of us.
> It's just basic communication skills.

I see a difference between writing emails on a specific topic, whether I
know the person I write to or not, and spamming people "sup sponsor me"
in hope of finding a sponsor. This is hardly basic. I have sponsored at
least 3 TUs and it was me who initiated the sponsorship; I wouldn't be
here either if I didn't know Mateusz Herych from Polish community
channel. I highly doubt anyone else would sponsor me.

We are open source distribution with pretty much closed development
model. It is unsustainable in the longer term. There are 413 orphan
packages in our repositories (excluding i686), some of the out-of-date
flags are unhandled since 2014. We updated archweb to the latest-1 LTS
Django only recently, the fact that our bug tracker hasn't been pwned
yet is a miracle and nothing but the wiki displays properly on
smartphones. Signoffs got a second breath thanks to recruiting some
testers, but there is no written procedure how to become one. We handle
PKGBUILD patches in the worst way possible - we just don't. It's not
even remotely hard to come up with examples.

How long do you expect people to be happy to send their changes to
/dev/null before they give up? Because I already met some people that
are more clever than me in every packaging related area that decided to
switch to a distribution where joining is easier.

> I don't understand what you mean. In the past when we've had specific
> needs in particular areas, ad-hoc recruitment processes were devised to
> fill those needs. Shouldn't that be good enough? What kind of new
> process would you like to see implemented?

We are at the point where we have needs in every area, and ad-hoc
recruitment is silly idea in 2017, where some distributions are
successfully having way smaller development team and are capable of
accepting tens of one-off contributions every week (been there, done
that). I do not propose to give up on sponsorship process entirely, I
mean that we need a place to communicate with contributors and that also
includes mentoring potential packagers.


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