Forum OpenACS Improvement Proposals (TIPs): Re: TIP #27 (Vetoed): Create a works-in-progress directory in /contrib

IMNSHO, these relatively fine distinctions between "contrib" and "works-in-progress" are mostly and non-productive. It's easy to come up with equally legitimate reasons for having 3 or 4 or more such divisions, rather than two, as others here have already alluded to, which should be a clue. Using the hard-to-change physical organization of the CVS repository to control these various easy-to-change fine distinctions sounds like a bad idea to me.

Besides, is there really so much stuff in contrib already that it's too hard to sort out what's what? I don't think so. Nor will there be anytime soon.

At best, all this "works-in-progress" CVS location is providing is a rather poor band-aid for the fact that there's currenly no real information anywhere describing status of the various packages. Seems to me it is both easier and better to simply fix that problem directly. Requiring all contributed work in include some sort of README desribing the status of the code is pretty trivial, and a better solution.

Just put everything in "contrib". Include a README in your package explaining its status, etc. This currently adds basically zero extra work for contributors, so if your short term goal is really just to start getting more code into CVS as easily and expeditiously as possible, this seems to be the way to go.

As far as methods to help sort and organize contrib, to make it easier for people to find what they want, etc., some of Jeff's ideas above sound worth pursuing.

I think the primary "quality standard for contrib" should simply be: The OpenACS community thinks the contributed code might be useful to some OpenACS users. If other additional standards should be applied, it's not obvious to me what they are or why they should be required.

Largely all merely IMO, of course. :)

Incidentally, this does sound somewhat like the apocryphal example of everyone debating about what color the web page should be, simply because it's easy to debate. I was sufficiently tempted to put my 2 cents in, but in the end it probably doesn't matter all that much, as long as whatever decision you folks allows people to easily contribute all the random code they think worth contributing, somehow, somewhere.
Another thing to keep in mind is that when we branch the 5.0 release anything that is not "releasable" in contrib or elsewhere shouldn't go onto the 5.0 branch. If we do manage to get away from monolithic releases it becomes even less of a concern.

btw, Andrew, the thing you are refering to is "bikeshedding" and predates the web by a fair bit. I think it's a pretty common maladay of online communities for some reason.

I recall it being the cost of cofee or of a coffee machine in Parkinson's original, not a bike shed. (Probalby Parkinson presented wrote different variations.) But yes, that's the concept.
It was in the chapter "High finanace or the Point of Vanishing Interest" in "Parkinson's Law" and the funding decisions were:
  • £10,000,000 atomic power plant -- minimal debate (2.5 minutes).
  • £350 bike shed -- moderate debate (45 minutes).
  • £21 for coffee at a meeting -- extreme and devisive debate since everyone knows about coffee (1h15m).
Anwyay, bikeshedding is the word that ended up in the lexicon, maybe because "coffee-arguing" or "atomic-plant-not-debating" just don't work as well :)