Zeerak Mustafa Waseem posted on Sun, 04 Apr 2010 22:19:06 +0200 as
> esOn Sat, Apr 03, 2010 at 07:33:53AM -0400, Richard Freeman wrote:
>> I really think that the Gentoo recruitment process needs improvement.
>> Right now it seems like a LOT of effort is required both to become a
>> Gentoo dev and to help somebody become a Gentoo dev. That means we
>> have great people, but not many of them.
I like that last sentence summation. It's perhaps optimistic, but does
bring into sharp focus both a positive and a negative of the current
>> I think the problem is that our recruitment process uses the ability to
>> answer complex technical and organizational questions as a way to
>> assess maturity. I think that maturity is far more important than
>> technical skill in a distro - a mature person will recognize their own
>> limitations and exercise due diligence when stepping outside of them.
>> Instead of playing 20 questions and going back and forth with recruits,
>> maybe a better approach would be to cut down the questions dramatically
>> (or more clearly put their answers in the documentation), and then use
>> other approaches like references and interviews. A new recruit might
>> be given the names of 5 devs that they will need to interview with for
>> 30-60 minutes by phone or IRC (preference on phone), and they will need
>> to submit references, who will be contacted. When we hire people at
>> work we don't play trivial pursuit with them, we use an interview to
>> get a feel for what they're like and how they handle situations, and we
>> screen resumes and references to determine experience. I'm sure any of
>> the professional linux distros would work in the same way, but perhaps
>> somebody should ask around and see how it is done elsewhere.
> I'm not exactly sure how you'd want the references to work, I mean, as
> in prior jobs/projects worked on? I know that I'd like to help out with
> development, but as it stands I don't think I have the necessary skills
> (various programming language etc), so that is something I'm working on.
I expect rich0 had in mind (tho I won't claim to speak for him) something
a bit broader when referring to references. Certainly, in the FLOSS world
many people are self-taught to some degree or another, and many are
volunteers, so references in the traditional job sense may not be
But in the FLOSS world, the term is indeed often used in a broader sense.
For instance, if I were to "apply", I'd list my long-time involvement on
the pan (Internet news client) lists, where my involvement hasn't been as
much in the technical sense but in helping out users, and ideally, in
being an interface between users and devs such that devs need spend less
time helping users and can spend more time developing. =:^)
In Gentoo, not only my record of involvement on the amd64 list and here
(I've followed the dev list, as much to get a heads-up on what's coming
before it hits as anything else, since 2004.0, before I even had Gentoo
successfully installed, as that wasn't until 2004.1), but on bugs.gentoo.
Even if those aren't particularly technical references, they absolutely
demonstrate consistency and integrity in community contribution. Those
references demonstrate integrity, in terms both of length of commitment,
and security-wise. If I'm a bad guy, I must be a pretty **** patient one!
Others won't have that length of service to point to, but they have an IRC
handle that has come to be identified with cooperativeness and willingness
to help and to learn. Bugday participation is a very solid reference, as
is work on one of the overlays with reasonably heavy community
involvement, be it a specialized one like the java or kde overlays, or a
couple of ebuilds on sunrise. There's also the forums, with their very
direct and practical mechanism for recognizing frequent and helpful
posters, and lets not forget the reference points a well developed doc
submission (and docs takes plain text submissions too, I'm told, right
nightmorph?) is going to be worth. These sorts of references can be
developed in perhaps six months or so, rather less if you've already a
partially developed docs addition in mind.
> As a consequence I naturally don't have any references (and might not by
> the time I feel ready) but that wouldn't necessarily mean that I'm not
> qualified to be working as a dev. Also one could imagine that a number
> of other people without references, but the necessary qualifications
> might think "To hell with this, I'll just put my effots somewhere else".
Keep in mind that for many of the above, the six months to the
establishment of a reasonable record may be well underway before one ever
decides to take their Gentoo contributions to the next level. As with
character and community references for a job or rental/lease, if you're
finding yourself having to deliberately develop them, you're probably
going about it the wrong way -- by the time you /need/ them, you should
find you just /have/ them, or something's wrong.
IOW, just the fact of this one post is already contributing to the
formation of a reference of community involvement. =:^)
> Another thing, you write that phone is preferred but I know that I act
> relaxed in text with new people and as myself. Whereas on the phone I
> hold back a bit, and don't really act myself. So perhaps the preference
> should be the manner in which the one being interviewed is more
> comfortable with and will act more naturally.
It's interesting, as I'm rather the opposite of you. Personal experience
has demonstrated well enough to me that I don't do well in instant text
contexts, be it texting/IM/IRC. OTOH, I'm reasonably comfortable on the
phone (and VoIP is nice =:^), and on the "async" messaging protocols such
as email/lists/newsgroups/forums, etc, with newsgroups being a strong
Some months, <shrug> maybe a year ago, now, someone mentioned (here) that
an IRC interview was a requirement for Gentoo devhood. I followed up on
that, asking about it, and was basically told that if someone's not
willing to do even just the one IRC interview, they may as well not
bother, Gentoo's simply not interested in them as a dev, period. The
position was that refusing to do just that one session, if that's all you
wanted to do, was simply being petty.
Well, I was actually rather glad to get that clarified, because from the
beginning I've always tried to contribute what I could, and always figured
the logical end result of that, if I ever got there, was that I'd probably
end up a Gentoo dev at some point. I've already been around for six
years, and see no reason I'd not be around in double that again, 12 years
out, if Gentoo's still active by then. But I'm simply not going to waste
my time with stuff I know I'm terrible at just to satisfy some hoop-jump
requirement, when there's way more FLOSS community projects begging for my
time than I have time to give them.
So maybe I AM being petty and ridiculous in refusing that hoop-jump. But
it seems to me the shoe fits just as well on the other foot, too. But
OTOH, maybe IRC /is/ a vital skill for a Gentoo dev, thus justifying that
hoop. Regardless, I'm glad I know it now, as now, whenever I read about
the severe lack of devs, I know Gentoo can't use me in that capacity
anyway, so I don't have to think about it any more. I can be just a user
and contribute where I can, here and elsewhere. And as any other user, if
Gentoo ultimately goes down the tubes due to lack of dev interest, well
<shrug>, it's too bad I guess, but as with most users, I'll eventually
find another distribution. And I /am/ reading good things about Arch,
But meanwhile, Gentoo remains, I believe, the best possible match for me
/as/ a "power user"; one now affirmed in that status; one who actually
appreciates the ability to control what's on his system and how the
components interact with each other at a level of detail that's difficult
or impossible to get with most distributions. If as a Gentoo user it's
going to be, a Gentoo user I've been for six years and a Gentoo user I may
very well be in another six years, doubled, tripled even, if Gentoo's
still around for me by then...
Or maybe this thread'll trigger some change, and I'll eventually end up a
Gentoo dev, with a bigger bit than it presently seems in shaping the
possibility of having a healthy Gentoo a dozen years from now. User or
dev, doesn't matter. If my contributions help the chances of there being
a healthy Gentoo for me to still be using a dozen years from now, I'm
happy. =:^) Otherwise, there's certainly other places and projects
that'll welcome those contributions, and if Gentoo dies due to lack of
interest from those deemed qualified, holding the fort until the end,
well, there's other distributions. too, and I'm sure I'll find a place as
a user of one of them.
Duncan - List replies preferred. No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master." Richard Stallman