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Beautiful Teams by Jennifer Greene, Andrew Stellman

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The Contribulyzer

Like most open source projects, Subversion [21] is continually trying to identify potential new core maintainers. Indeed, one of the primary jobs of the current core group is to watch incoming code contributions from new people and figure who should be invited to take on the responsibilities of core maintainership. In order to honestly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of candidates, we (the core maintainers) set up a private mailing list, one of the few non-public lists in the project. When someone thinks a contributor is ready, she proposes the candidate on this mailing list, and sees what others' reactions are. We give each other enough time to do some background checking, since we want a comfortable consensus before we extend the offer; revoking maintainership would be awkward, and we try to avoid ever being in the position of having to do it.

This behind-the-scenes background checking is harder than it sounds. Often, patches [22] from the same contributor have been handled by different maintainers on different occasions, meaning that no one maintainer has a good overview of that contributor's activities. Even when the same maintainer tends to handle patches from the same contributor (which can happen either deliberately or by accident), the contributor's patches may have come in irregularly over a period of months or years, making it hard for the maintainer to monitor the overall quality of the contributor's code, bug reports, design suggestions, and so ...

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