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

Sam Boyer drupal at samboyer.org
Thu Nov 6 01:36:02 UTC 2008

On Wednesday 05 November 2008 15:01:32 Thomas Zahreddin wrote:
> Hallo,
> 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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociocracy
> or as free pdf
> http://www.governancealive.com/Links/The_Creative_Forces_of_Self_Organizati
> 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.


The implementation of the API described in that proposal is considerably more 
heavy-duty than what's being talked about here, but that (will be) the beauty 
of the API - slim-down versions would be quite possible, too.

It's a good thing that the Decisionmaking API hasn't gotten started yet, 
though, because I do think that there'd need to be quite a bit of discussion 
first about what people would actually want/use, and how to know when such a 
system begins to hinder more than it helps.


> 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.
> Best
> Thomas Zahreddin
> cofounder of http://VoiceHero.net
> > Best,
> > Anselm
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