[ocaml-infra] Adopting a Governance framework for OCaml.org

Fabrice Le Fessant Fabrice.Le_fessant at inria.fr
Mon Sep 14 16:22:40 BST 2015

On Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 3:23 PM, Anil Madhavapeddy <anil at recoil.org> wrote:
> Consider how many companies have come and gone in OCaml's 20 year history.
> The same individual characters still pop up with alarming regularity
> through those years, however, no matter who the paymasters are :-)

I have exactly the opposite opinion: companies have been quite
consistent in their choice of OCaml (with good reasons ;-) ), and once
they had a good part of their software in OCaml, it's hard for them to
stop supporting it. The membership of the Caml Consortium has been
also very constant over the years, increasing slowly but keeping most
former members.  When Thomas left OCamlPro, it was also the fact that
we already had started to distribute his knowledge of OPAM that
allowed us to go on in the developement without almost any disruption
(and today, we already have other developers ready to take over the
development if Louis gets bored). On the contrary, individuals are
much more versatile, they can contribute full-time to OCaml (if their
employer allows them), or only part-time (on spare time), or not at
all (if they get interested in a project that uses OCaml, but do not
contribute to it) depending on many different constraints, that
ocaml.org should depend on.

Anyway, I am still puzzled by this document, I would have expected a
dedicated organization (an "association" in French law) to take over
this task, as it is the case for some other open-source languages
(Python for example). What is the legal meaning of signing this
document ? In an association, the governance dictates who governs the
association, what they can do (i.e. what they are allowed to do, and
what they are not allowed to do), who votes for them, how to become a
member, etc. And if you don't follow the association rules, you are
excluded. Here, I don't see any such thing.

Let's take some examples of things that could also be clarified: if
somebody wants a new project to become an ocaml.org project, how long
is he supposed to wait to get a reply ? When is the "consensus phase"
supposed to end, if nobody replies with either yes or no ?  Is it yes
by default, or no by default ? What if nobody is against the project,
but still the sub-domain name is not created ? on the contrary,
suppose that there is no consensus for a project, but somebody with
admin rights decides to still create the sub-domain, is it ok ?

For me, such a document should handle all these cases, and the process
should be democratic (admin rights should be put to a vote by the
members). Which leads to having an association for that. And
associations usually welcome institutions too, not only individuals,
even if they give them different rights.

Finally, the compiler/distribution is now distributed on ocaml.org,
since caml.inria.fr is deprecated. But is it an ocaml.org project ?
What rights have the core-team members over the corresponding pages ?
Shall they care about changing them in the event of the migration of
sources from SVN to GIT, or is it a task for the ocaml.org project
itself ?

My two(four?) cents,
PS: and I am also thankful to Amir for starting this work and this
(important) discussion.

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