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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My weekly Gentoo observations

Just to sum up a few things here.

Legal notice: all opinions mentioned here are mine alone. Some of them might be biased although I'm trying to stay objective.

  1. More than 20 devs were retired this week (for their own and not so much).

    Some strange tendencies may be seen from this. For example, patrick was retired in a matter of 3 days with lots of arguing about definition of "inactivity", kito was retired after being "inactive" for more than 6 months, and after he was queried about his activity a month prior to retirement.

  2. Plasmaroo is retired now (he was developer of the week, GWN July)
  3. 3 developers joined.
  4. I didn't find any specific "contract" for developers, describing what a developer is expected to do and what would be considered a "breach" of this contract, besides etiquette issues.
  5. I didn't find a policy for retiring developers. Like, a) if developer "inactive" (one more missing concept), then he's candidate for retirement, b) developer is contacted and informed that he's candidate for retirement, c) time goes by and if he/she is still non-active for no good reason (such as being in South Africa for WHO mission or a honeymoon), some kind of board decides to retire dev, etc.

    I find it very strange, that to become a developer one has to go through all sorts of tests, quizzes, mentorship, approval, and so on; but to be retired - "a dev will be considered retired".

    Thats it, no warning, talking, considering, debating, asking, nothing. One moment you're there - and then oops! now you considered retired.

    Boom and you're gone, as says mr. Jobs of Apple.

  6. I find interesting that many users want lots of singular automatic tools that will do some task which is hard to define. That is weird, because although I like automated things myself, but one should understand, that some things cannot be automated (at least not now) and some of them are they way they are by design. Its impossible to automate some things withough changing the concepts of Gentoo, but then what would be the point making Fedora (choose your other favorite binary distro here) out of Gentoo? None.

Leave me comments or other things that I should describe/take a look at next time.


Bryan Østergaard said...

Great to see yet another guy get the retirement situation completely wrong (Sorry about the sarcasm).

Patrick was retired after 2+ months of doing absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Nothing development related.

This was followed up by opening a retirement bug and almost a month later actually retiring patrick. Your 3 days is pure fantasy imo.

Now, we can argue what constitutes inactivity all we like but I don't think anybody can reasonably argue that doing absolutely nothing somehow equals activity.

And before anybody runs off solely on what Patrick says about this I'd advise you to read other developers comments on the bug. (See and please don't argue on the bug anymore - it's not going to change the situation)

The decision was fully backed up by Developer Relations and lots of other devs have stated that it was correct according to policy.

Alex said...


I'm for equal for all. I just did search on bugzilla for "retired" and this was the first bug.

Now, ok, I've rechecked, and I saw the whole discussion on the bug - OK, it was almost a month after first request. While you are correct on this, why isn't there a request for a developer whether he is still involved with Gentoo or not? Why an immediate retirement? I mean, you immediately asked him to be retired, and after that it took another month until they did. And, regarding kito, you did ask him first whether he still active or not. Why differentiate?

Besides, I'd consider this discussion as a "conflict" and for resolving conflicts there is a written policy. For retirement of developers there isn't, its just something in people's heads.

Also, I don't understand, why is it so secretive? why retiring a developer is just a simple process of one-person decision (and I suppose its you). After all the trouble you go to get a developer, it surprises me how easy you let one go.

I don't know what your relationship with Patrick, and whether there's personal grudges between you two. I just see things as they seem to me.

By the way, resolution for such a conflict would go with Dev Rel lead, and that is you, and I see here some kind of conflict of interests.

And one last thing: why is there so much tension over Patrick? is he the only one? does it bother you at all that 20 devs were retired while only 3 joined Gentoo this week? I'd say this is more disturbing than Patrick retirement discussions.

Bryan Østergaard said...

As I've explained on the bug (as well as irc directly talking with Patrick) the policy is to retire devs after 60 days of inactivity or more. If a retired dev starts being active again there's really nothing preventing that dev from coming back again.

This policy have existed for at least 2 years now I believe - at least longer than I've been involved in Developer Relations.

Regarding Patrick - yes, he's the only one making such a fuss of this instead of working with devrel on solving this situation nicely.

And regarding retiring more than 20 devs. No, it doesn't bother me at all as they were all inactive and have been inactive for quite a while.

Keeping inactive developers actively hurts Gentoo as it hides many problems by having bugs assigned to those inactive devs, herds filled with inactive devs (so we don't know to advertise for more devs) etc.

Ask any developer and he'll tell you that it's very frustrating trying to contact an inactive dev. And users experience exactly the same thing whether the contact is by irc, email or through bugzilla.

We can't altogether avoid this frustration even if all devs are active simply because many devs are very busy. But we can at least try to avoid inactive devs being part of this problem. In fact, I think we have a duty to solve this problem - both towards devs and users.

Btw, please don't read too much into the whole "20 retired devs, only 3 new devs" this week stuff. I usually retire inactive devs in groups as it's easier handling it that way while new devs join all the time. So it's been several months since I last retired a group of inactive devs. Gentoo is still growing when looking at how many devs we are.