In mid-october 2019, Jenkins on OpenShift developers team from Red Hat started to engage in the jenkinsci/kubernetes-operator (aka Jenkins Operator) as contributors and committers. The initiators of the project are contributors from VirtusLab company.
After a few commits related to documentation and minor bug fixes, the team, backed by product management, expressed their wish to engage more in the community and the project.
To facilitate communication and collaboration, several rituals has been put in place by Red Hat team members:
Subscribing to the slack channel on virtuslab's instance and providing best effort community support to the users who were asking.
Scheduling a developer call each week to discuss developer related issues and ways to improve the software. Several additional stakeholders from Red Hat, who were strongly interested in extending Jenkins features were able to join (to name a few, J.F, R. Crisp, S. Bose, ....)
A weekly community call to allow users to talk about their use of the plugin and features they would like to see. If not enough users were joining, which was often the case, this call was used to discuss architecture and development topics.
After months, discrepancies arose, especially regarding architecture and design. At the same time, contributing features was harder both for technical reasons (monolithic operator) and for governance reasons (Red Hat developers didn't have commit permissions).
Despite these difficulties, Red Hat management insisted in remaining engaged in a community based operator and to continue the contributions, and also engage in larger refactoring tasks. Red Hat committers asked several times to have commit permissions. Initially, these requests have been rejected by invoking the will to keep control on the code quality. After several months of discussions, and difficult collaboration, Red Hat team members engagement was constant but commit permissions were still refused.
Then, during a period of around 2 months and related to personal reasons, the main committer was not able to validate PRs, nor letting the other contributors be able to do it. The project was and is almost frozen.
Red Hat is escalating the discussion to the Jenkins CI board to see how to solve this issue. As it was discussed as there is no existing process in place for transferring permissions when a component maintainer explicitly rejects that. Red Hat is asking to set up a governance that complies with the Jenkins Code of Conduct and allows Open Source friendly collaboration.
Governance revision proposal
The proposed governance has a main objective to ensure permanently that a distribution of the commit rights across the active stakeholders of the project always exists. The definition of "active stakeholder" can be defined more accurately by the project board. But, as an initial proposal, an active stakeholder can be defined as:
"An entity contributing to the project in any form within the last 3 months would be by submitting code, committing code, proposing PRs and documentation or participating actively on a regular basis in the community calls".
We can add to this group any active user who can submit a minimum amount of documented and reproducible issues.
Initial working group leaders are defined using the following requirements:
Initial leadership group consists of 3 or 5 members
Founding parties: Virtus Lab, Red Hat, Jenkins Governance Board
Each party nominates a representative
Domination prevention: there should be no party having more than 50% of working group members.
The governance charter needs to define a few engagements and entities:
Scope of rights and responsibilities explicitly held by the committee
Committee structure that meets the requirements above
Election process, including:
special elections in the case someone resigns or is impeached
who is eligible to nominate candidates and how
who is eligible to run as a candidate
Voter registration and requirements
election mechanics such as
committee company representation quotas
Limits on electioneering
Responses to election fraud
How are changes to the charter enacted, and by what process
How are meetings conducted
Recorded or not, and if not, how is the information shared
How is work tracked? Example steering project board
Is there a member note taker, or is there a neutral facilitator role that exists outside of the committee?
Frequency, duration, and required consistency
Committee decision-making process, and specifically those areas of action that require more/less consensus, e.g. modifications the charter
The active stakeholders of the project engage in getting members from the contributor/user community to form a working group to drive the direction of the project.
Explains to potential contributors how/if they can add code to the repository/repositories
Documents Workflow and management of pull requests
Identifies who is authorized to commit or revert code
Identifies automation is required for normal operations
Defines how release decisions are made
Who is authorized to release and when.
Defines the documentation process
Defines what CLA process is required and how it is programmatically enforced before code is merged.
The working group initially includes two roles: leader and member
Jenkins Operator project meetings are considered to be the main communication and decision making channel
The decisions are made by a consensus among contributors
If a consensus cannot be reached, a voting between the working group leadership takes place. The decision is achieved by plain majority.
If a decision cannot be reached on the working group level, the Jenkins Project decision making process is used: https://www.jenkins.io/project/governance/#meeting
TBDIssues and questions
The following questions and issues are not answered yet and have to be answered before the establishing the governance chart:
Can a contributor lose its status? Permanently or temporarily ?
How can newcomers be promoted to leaders or contributors roles and with which frequency ?
What happens if an organization gets disengaged from the community ?
What if no quorum nor consensus or majority can be reached for some decisions ?
What are the permissions and accesses given to a maintainer and what are the different roles maintainers can have. Eg: CI Cop, Release Cop etc.