[development] Reviewing patches and making decisions -> Sociocracy could be a way to go!

Thomas Zahreddin tz at it-arts.org
Wed Nov 5 21:01:32 UTC 2008


thank you for bringing this topic up.

Since a long time I'm unsatisfied with this process.

(@ Dries:  this is the e-mail i announced to you in Szeged)

> Hello,
> Having followed this thread for a while, I decided to do my bit, and start
> reviewing patches. I didn't get very far ; I stopped at the first patch.
> Not because of the code - I could understand what the original code did,
> and what the patched code did - but because there are two decisions to be
> made :
> 1. In that case - and I guess this is not uncomon - the old behaviour might
> be a bug, but it might have been by design. I have no way of telling.

(caution: Ironical!) Oh, I can't count how often i heard: "the code tells it 
all!" or "read my code first" or "only code counts, not the words about it" ..

Yes I can read the code but the question above can not be answered by reading 
the code - much more helpful would be a comment what the _aim_ of some lines 
of code is.

And maybe the group working on and with that particular module has a list of 
decisions (not a mailinglist) and why they where made - so one could go back 
to the original decision (should be referenced in the code) and look up what 
the original intention was. 

Do you agree that these information could help a lot in similar situaltions?

> 2. Changing the old behaviour to the new one could break old modules that
> implicitely relied on the old behaviour. Again, this is probably not
> uncomon. How do I weight the importance of the patch vs stability of old
> modules ?

IMHO persons, interested in a module (like programmers and users of this or a 
compatible module), shall have the possiblity to be heard with their 
requirements. It is up to the maintainer (or moderater) to listen to all and 
their arguments what is urgent and /or important and to come up with 
suggestions to which most (if not all) people can agree. The final decision is 
up to the maintainer (keeping in mind the long term goals, all persons 
interested in the module and the available resources) in cooperation with the 
person willing to contribute (e.g. code).

If the group of persons working on a module keeps a logbook about their 
decisions, then everybody is able to follow the decisions regarding a modul.

A short description of this method of dynamic selfgovernance can be found on

or as free pdf 

A longer description is in 
Buck, John and Sharon Villines (2007). We the People: Consenting to a Deeper 
Democracy, A Guide to Sociocratic Principles and Methods. Sociocracy.info 
Press. ISBN 978-0-9792827-0-6.

> So what do I do next ? I don't have a sufficient overview of that part of
> Drupal to make such decisions myself. Should I mark it as reviewed, and add
> as a note what the potential implications are ? Or is there another process
> to follow in such situations ?

I agree absoluty: We do not have approriate structures in the drupal community 
to work efficently, make decissions traceable, keeping the teamspirit up and 
stay open for new developers to join.

I'm aware of: there are ca. one million notes on drupal.org, some IRC-
channels, conferences, groups.drupal.org, mailinglists like this one, a CVS-
Repository ... 
- but you can imagin alone by this list how hard it is to follow all relevant 
information / decissions.

So I suggest to read a little about Sociocracy and start discussing our 
decision making process.


Thomas Zahreddin
cofounder of http://VoiceHero.net

> Best,
> Anselm

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