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Managing membership requests

Posted by turbogeek on February 22, 2005 at 12:38 PM PST

One of the nuisance tasks at Java.Net is managing user membership requests. We can reduce our burden with a little information both for these requesters and ourselves.

Almost every day I get a message from someone that wants the developer role on one of my projects. Most of the time I do not know the person and they usually don't know anything about my project than what they see on its front page. On one project I actually granted several requesters a developer role, but they have not used it.

Let's make a few observations about open source membership and roles:

• Many of us don't understand what membership and roles mean

• When in doubt, people just ask for the highest role or one that is familiar (like Developer)

• Many project owners just ignore requests because they do not know what to do with members.

• Roles granted without prerequisites are not seen as important.

• A clear process will be followed by members that really want to contribute

• A promotion of a role, granted based on hard work, is respected and used appropriately to retain its stat

The common thread here is information and a process. A lack of information causes problems and clear process helps to create a better project member. If we tell current and new members what the rules are, we reduce problems plus show a clear path to advancement in a project. What follows is a simple explanation of the roles and how to attain them. Put this on your project home page where users can't help but read it.

This is not the complete story. The more information a user has on the rules and how to work with your source code, the less you need to manage the project. Include info on how to use your application, build the code, and of great importance, how to make changes to the code. Post rules on how to submit changes to your project (I have info on that here).

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How to get approved for membership roles in this project

The following are the roles, their capabilities and the process to gain access to the role.

Observer: Read-only access to project code(CVS); can also submit issues, subscribe to email, and forums.

All observers will be granted access.

Content Developer:
Read/Write access to project web content (Anything in the www directory of the CVS)

Must submit a formal request to the project owner with a resume and reasons why they should be granted access to the web pages for this project and what they plan to do as soon as the role is granted.

Developer: Read/Write access to all of project

We only grant developer access to people we feel we can trust. Trust must be earned by attaching code to issues that we have reviewed. You may submit your own issues followed by code to answer an issue. We may grant developer access on the first approved code or after a few approved submissions. This will vary depending on how important or well written the code is. Please also see our rules for code.

Project Owner: Can reconfigure project and control membership

This role will only be granted by an existing project owner's discretion. You must however have already been granted a Content or Developer role and proven yourself over time.

Any of these roles may be revoked by the project owner if you do not follow the rules of the project.

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Denying Inappropriate Requests Politely

If you do get an inaproriate request, deny it as soon as possible. Put the following in the text box and it will be sent to the members that you are denying requests to:

Your request for this role is being denied at this time. Please reapply for the 'Observer' role which is always granted.


For help on the issue tracker, go here:

Help for using CVS:

Requesting membership/roles in an open source project:

Rules/Process for code submissions:

Here is the complete list of roles and capabilities:


• Views, but does not change project resources.

• Read-only access to most project resources.

• Read-only access to web content and source code.

• Gains submit access to tracking component.

• Subscribes and posts to project mailing lists.


• Contributes directly to project -- source code and HTML.

• Gains write access to most project resources.

• Write access to HTML, announcements utility, documents and files utility, version control, and tracking component.

• Subscribes and posts to project mailing lists.

Content Developer

• Contributes directly to project's web content (HTML).

• Gains write access to project's HTML, announcements utility, documents and files utility, and tracking component.

• Subscribes and posts to project mailing lists.

Project Owner

• Defines the project's overall mission, direction, methodology, and community make-up.

• Gains administrative access to all project functions.

• Grants members requested permissions on project.

• Administers all project mailing lists and is default moderator on all lists.

• Administers tracking component.

• Project Owner role supersedes any other roles you may hold on a project.

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