Replying to the community list as requested...

Neat app!  Not immediately intuitive as to how to interpret it, but with a
little experimentation I could see patterns.  For example, it was
interesting to notice how my email moved from the outskirts of the circle
with data from early months to the center of the circle in later months (for
the projects I'm involved with).

I'm still unclear on what to look for in terms of community "health".  What
are some of the general macro patterns you've seen with this tool?  What
insight does this provide into the community?  The docs provide a good micro
level description of how the app models the relationships between
individuals, but don't discuss the macro patterns that emerge.   It'd be
interesting to hear some of your thoughts.


----- Original Message ----- From: "Stefano Mazzocchi" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: "Apache Committers" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2005 12:14 PM
Subject: [ANN] Introducing Apache Agora - reloaded!

NOTE: please excuse the noise if you are not interested, but there is no
easier way to reach all of you and I thought many of you might be
interested in this.

<hat type="director" mode="off>

A few years ago, around the time the incubator started to appear as the
escape valve for the growth problems that some projects were exhibiting,
I started to wonder if there could be a way, for those mentoring and
providing oversight for particular projects, to make their job easier,
especially if they were not participating in the day-to-day work of the
various communities they were helping grow strong and self-sufficient.

The task is very difficult, not only due to the nature of the problem
(and the unstructuredness of the data), but also about the fact that you
don't want to create more problems that you are solving: for example,
you won't want people to feel spied or abused by numerical rating and

The result of that thinking was Apache Agora, a system that I designed
and implemented 3 years ago and that has been running (quite silently)
on Nagoya since then.

Since Nagoya is going away, I moved Agora over to minotaur and I have
aligned it with the existing mail archive (the same one that we use to
power our official mod_mbox based archives). Find it at

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what is this?

Agora is a community visualizer. If you wonder who is the core of a
particular community (for example, to know who to ask for something) or
how big/active/diverse/balanced a community is, Agora is for you.

how does it work?

Agora is composed of two pieces:

1) a python scripts that reads mbox files and generates 'precooked' data

2) a java applet that reads the precooked data and visualizes it

the script is running every week (on sundays) on minotaur and it's fully
incremental, meaning that knows where it lefts off the week before.

how about the network?

The network is created by harvesting the email addresses and linking
them depending on the fact that one address replied to a message sent by
another address.

I say address because an address is not a person, as there might be
several addresses belonging to the same person (and no, the system
doesn't (yet) allow different addresses that belong to the same person
to be smooshed together)

In order to reduce noise, the network is the pruned. All addresses that
only received or sent email are removed from the graph. So, the
resulting graph is a smaller version of those nodes that exhibit minimal
connectivity characteristics (and helps to remove, for example, agents
like bugzilla or SVN or spam, that never reply, or lurkers that don't
participate in discussions).

how do I start using it?

The tree on the left lists all the 'precooked data' that agora is able
to understand. This is a mirror of the list of the folders in
/home/apmail/public-arch on and will be
automatically updated when new mail lists will be added (so infra@ nor I
have to do anything! you can always count on my lazy ass ;-)

In order to see anything, you have to click on one of the files on the
tree, wait for a few seconds (until the file icon turns reddish) and
then click on the "load" button. This will load the data, create the
network, perform the pruning and show it in the graph pane.

cool, I have a graph, now what?

Click the "start" button and the graph will clusterize. If you merged
data from different mailing lists, you will see them forming different

If you click on a node, it will show the address related to that node.

if you right-click anywhere, a fisheye zoom will tell you more about
that area.

If you double-click, you can make nodes 'sticky'.

is there more info on this?

Sure, I wrote a minimal documentation here.

where is the code?

svn co

can I fix things?

Sure, patches welcome. Although note that I'm working on the next
generation of this tool for my day job (based on RDF data and very
general instead of my own precooked mail-oriented format) at

shouldn't this be put in a more official location?

If the community finds it useful, I'd be glad and honored to move this
to a more official location. Speak up on if you feel that's the case.

where should I discuss about this?

Do *NOT* reply to this list. Please send your replies to

Thank you and sorry for the noise.



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