Dave Neary <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

> > I think our policy is to encourage people to use bugzilla and the
> > mailing-lists, and not to contact developers directly.
> Do you mean is, or should be?

I think it is and it should be.

> I agree that that is the current policy, but disagree that things
> should be like that. Mailing lists and bugzilla are for the most
> parts an excessively high barrier to entry for people not already in
> the community. The quantity of mail we're talking about is not huge
> either - just because a name is on a website somewhere does not mean
> that all of a sudden they're going to get slashdotted by 10000 mails
> a day.

I am getting several hundred mails a day already and only the fact
that GIMP related stuff goes nicely sorted into GIMP folders makes it
possible for me to react to these mails in a reasonable fashion.
Ideally I would not receive GIMP related emails to any private email
account (but of course this happens and will continue to happen).
However This is my private problem however and I don't think it's a
valid argument in this discussion...

> I believe we should be much more flexible about how we use those
> public channels, too... for example, someone recently reported a bug
> on a mailing list. The bug was confirmed on the mailing list, and the
> fix was trivial. In spite of that he was asked to create the bug on
> bugzilla so that it would be fixed in the next release, which probably
> meant taking 5 more minutes than he had already taken to create a
> bugzilla account. That was, imho, unnecessary.

It is a very common policy for a lot of projects that all bugs must be
reported in Bugzilla. Some projects even go so far that you must not
commit anything w/o refering to a bug-report. I don't think we need to
go that far but I think that it is important that bugs are entered in
Bugzilla. So far every bug reporter who was asked to use Bugzilla has
managed to create a bugzilla account and has entered his/her bug
there. If bugs are mentioned on a mailing-list or (worse) in private
email it is very likely that they will be forgotten.

To comment on your example, if I would have had the time to fix the
bug immidiately, I wouldn't have asked the bug reporter to file a bug
report. But since I didn't have the time, I wanted to make sure the
bug is entered to our bug-tracker. Otherwise it would likely have been
forgotten. The bug was entered and someone else fixed it. Would this
surely have happened w/o the bug being reported correctly? I doubt it.

> Private e-mail is a much nicer way to get involved, particularly if
> you manage to talk to someone who listens to you and encourages you. I
> sent my first patches to Daniel Egger, because his name appeared
> pretty often in the changelog at the time. Daniel was very nice,
> pointed out where I could improve my patches, committed them for me,
> and at a certain point pointed me towards the lists and towards mitch
> when the patches got a bit bigger. In short, Daniel made it easier for
> me to contribute.

I am not saying that we should disallow private emails but I am
arguing that we should not encourage them. Of course a lot of people
are not familiar with the way that open source projects work but it
should be our goal to help them to learn how to get involved.
> If I send a patch to the list, it's actually sending it to
> no-one. Same thing with a bugzilla report. No-one is responsible,
> no-one says "I can't help you with this - but person X might". There
> is no way to know whether a patch will get applied, acknowledged or
> whatever. Plus, I need to sign up for a list where I might get another
> 100 mails a month to add on top of the 2 or 300 I already get if I'm a
> free software developer.

That is simply not true. If you file a bug-report against GIMP, you
usually get a respone in less than a day. The problem is entered into
a database for later reference and a bunch of people immidiately get
to know about it and can comment on it.

> I'm not saying that we should actively encourage people to send mail
> directly to developers, I'm saying that we shouldn't actively
> *discourage* avenues of communication. If someone contacts me
> personally with a question (which happens more and more frequently),
> I reply to the question as best I can. I'm reasonably pleasant,
> polite and friendly. If I can't help them personally, I might add
> someone better placed to help as a CC. Or I might reccommend that
> they ask the list. But if I can help, I do. Sure, there might be
> some gem of wisdom lost to the mail archives, but the chances are
> that the GIMP has made a new friend, someone who'll go away and say
> that the GIMP guys are really nice and approachable.

If I get a private mail and this happens more ane more frequently, I
am pleasant, polite and friendly. But if I get the impression that the
subject of the mail could be of concern for anyone but me and the
person who mailed me, I politely ask the sender to use the public
channels. And I think that everyone should do that.

> If instead I say "I can answer your question, but first you have to
> sign up to a mailing list and ask your question there", they're more
> likely to go away thinking that the GIMP guys are kind of uptight,
> maybe they'd consider that rude, perhaps they might even go away
> saying that the GIMP developers are arseholes.

It's just a matter of explaining the reason for this. If you tell
people that their question is certainly interesting for more people
and that you would like to answer it in a public forum that gets
archived, I haven't yet seen anyone who didn't subscribe to the lists
and asked there. What you get is another happy user of the mailing
list that might soon start to answer questions of other users or
become otherwise involved.

> Bear in mind that this has very little to do with the fact that
> you're being polite or impolite. They're asking for help, and you're
> insisting that they conform to an artificial structure which makes
> them go out of their way to get help.

Do you have an example to keep up this argument? From my experience it
is void.

> Most of the discussions that would happen off list would be patches
> sent to people "in charge" of modules, for comments and/or
> committal.

That's probably the worst thing that could happen. I can live with the
idea of people discussing development in private emails but patches
hiding in private inboxes instead of being attached to Bugzilla is
what can kill an open source project.

> Of course, if you're talking about design decisions, those should
> eventually happen on-list. But there's a certain value in 2 or 3
> people getting together to flesh out ideas and come up with a coherent
> proposition before going to the list. In fact, often times, starting
> technical discussions on the list can be a disaster because you
> invariably end up getting stuck in the nitty-gritty of the detail.

You are of course free to do that. Is there any need to discuss this?
We will certainly not tap on developers email to check if they are
discussing off-list. But I don't think we should encourage people to
address developers directly. The web-site should have clear and easy
instructions on how to get in contact with the GIMP developers, not
how to get in contact with individual module owners.

Also, we have tried every so often to keep a list of module owners.
All you get is a list of names that is outdated before you finished to
put it on online. Have a look at PLUGIN_MAINTAINERS. Do you really
want to publish this? The responsibilities and interest of GIMP
developers are changing, new people coming, other people retiring. Any
attempt to track is futile.

> Teams need leaders and roles. The German football team doesn't walk
> out on the pitch wondering who the captain is, who decides where
> people are playing, or who goes in goal. Even when people play sport
> for pleasure, there are captains, positions, goalies, subs - teams
> work better when people know where they fit in the team. And why
> shouldn't we celebrate some of the individual contributions to the

Only because the German football team does it, we don't have to do it
that way, do we? I don't follow you on this track. We have come a long
way without a strict hierarchy. I enjoy seeing GIMP as unstructured as
it is. The only thing that really bugs me is the bad state of our

> Generally, people get more pleasure out of something where they have a
> sense of purpose, a sense of having a job to do. I'm not saying that
> we carve up the project and set things in stone, I'm suggesting that
> we have a number of figureheads who decide what happens for part of a
> project, so that the project as a whole can have some structure. As
> things are, we're like a bunch of headless chickens, and there are
> certain parts of the code that no-one touches because they're
> considered the property of others (for example, the text tool, pygimp,
> anything to do with tools, anything to do with GimpImage) - the
> problem is that the others don't identify themselves as the owners of
> the code, so nothing gets done, since there's no plan. We need a plan.

There is no plan? I think we have a very decent plan. I agree that we
need to publish this plan better but I don't think we necessarily need
to tie people's names to it. I would very much welcome to see a better
roadmap being published than what we have currently. Again, the
problem is the web-site, not some general lack of structure or lack of
leadership or lack of a plan.

> I can draw up a plan, but since I'm far from the best coder in the
> project, and I don't have any more time than I'm currently spending,
> the plan would be meaningless unless 3 or 4 key people agree with
> it. So we need structure, we need a plan, and we need someone who
> supports the plan to help make it a reality and organise what people
> do in the project according to priorities, talents, schedules and so
> on. If we don't do something like that, we're doomed to continue
> developing in all directions like headless chickens without ever
> getting closer to the goal (colorspaces + profiles + bitdepth + DAGs
> + everything else).

I wonder what makes you think about GIMP development this way. I do
understand if it may appear like this to outsiders (again because of
the lack of good public relations, i.e. web-site), but _you_ should be
aware that there's a plan and that people are working hard to get
things done according to this plan. Your comments are actually quite
intimidating for everyone who's currently working on The GIMP. I take
it that you are trying to be provoking for some reason but I don't
understand why you are acting like this.

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