Sponsor shortage

Stefan Nuxoll stefan at nuxoll.eu.org
Sat Jul 11 16:09:37 UTC 2015

>> This is a vicious cycle. A lot of sponsors are burnt out on trying to
>> deal with new people who don't seem to have a clue.
> Laziness, lack of activity, lack of interest, sloppy packaging,
> dumping-ground/fire'n'forget mentality, there are various factors.

This is unfortunately a common problem in people who are trying to contribute to open source in general, but most of the time it's just tossing some code up on github trying to start a big project and then losing steam and motivation to keep working on it (hell, I'll admit, I've been guilty of it too!). I feel many people are probably unaware of the amount of work it actually takes to be a package maintainer, many people run "dnf update" on a daily or weekly basis but I don't think they consider everything that had to happen for those updates to make it from upstream, to updates-testing and then updates.

> Over the last years I've talked to quite some people. Some simply find
> the package review process "too embarrassing", because the tickets are
> world-readable. Once they learn that the package they offer is full of
> mistakes, they consider it "public shaming" and would like to delete
> the embarrassing ticket and restart from scratch. In some cases this
> has lead to doing early reviewing and guiding in private email, but
> with mixed results, such as people starting to argue about guidelines
> or how to do something.

It's simply reality that even open source projects have quality standards, and they SHOULD happen in the open. I understand getting upset after putting a lot of work into trying to package your first RPM to get told that there's problems with it, but dealing with bugs (especially packaging bugs) is part of the job of a package maintainer. I can't really give any advice on how to resolve people feeling like they are being "publicly shamed", in cultures with a low power distance like the US people CAN get quite upset at criticism and decide to just abandon ship because they don't want to deal with it, cultures with high power distance like India may respond to criticism by simply sulking away out of shame.

If for some reason there's actually incidents where a package reviewer is being dismissive or rude (I haven't seen any in my spot checking of the review queue) then there's a problem that needs to be addressed, and I'd hope a potential contributor would be able to step up to the plate and email someone else about the issue, but this again is a cultural issue that I have no solution for.

> Sponsoring someone based on a single package only to find out the person
> leaves the project again before handling the first few bug reports is
> very disappointing for sponsors.

The Fedora Project shows a very welcoming image on the wiki, and that's 
really great, I'm having a hard time thinking of another distribution 
outside maybe OpenSUSE that has a clear guide on contributing to 
packaging. However, reviewing the "Join the package collection 
maintainers" wiki-page I see that "Understand your responsibilities" is 
the SIXTH item in the list, if you are planning on utilizing Copr or the
 OpenSUSE Build System to throw a fire-and-forget package up it has 
minimal impact, but if you truly want to join a core packaging team you 
need to understand that it's not a job you start and then just abandon.

> And "wanting to help"? Lots of packages would benefit from better bug reports
> (more responsive reporters) and communication between upstream and downstream.
> A dumping ground won't help here. All you achieve by talking about lowering
> the hurdles it that the current new contributors prefer waiting for the
> Fedora Project to announce something, such as getting rid of the review process,
> a dumping repo for unreviewed packages, or automatic blanket-approval of new
> packagers.

The Fedora project already has a home for unreviewed packages, and that's Copr, but it seems relatively few people know about it compared to, say, Ubuntu's PPA's. I don't want to discourage people who truly want to put in the effort to get a package into the collection to just use Copr instead, but it could probably be better advertised.
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