[FFmpeg-devel] [RFC] VDD FFmpeg session and community survey

Thilo Borgmann thilo.borgmann at mail.de
Thu Dec 6 23:11:12 EET 2018

Hi again,

> I'm very sorry that it took me so long to send this to the list, finally.
> Since this is an everlasting topic for years, I wanted to deal
> thoroughly with it to have a chance to actually influence the situation.
> Like in many previous years/sessions about FFmpeg development, the topic of
> hostility at the ML and IRC channel was discussed yet another time. There
> have been several voices at this year's session that are still unhappy
> with the current hostility in the FFmpeg community. So this point has been
> discussed in the audience for a while. However, there has also been a voice
> claiming that the current situation and regulation by our CoC is ok and working.
> According to my experience, these discussions lead to two ends. First,
> is considering the FFmpeg community to be a hostile environment shared by a
> majority of the community so that any further thoughts to try to change this are
> valid or not? Second, assuming it is a majority that dislikes current hostility,
> what to do about it to improve the situation?
> Long ago, JB made a proposal to overcome this by getting a community committee
> to act upon hostile behavior in our environment and sanction the respective
> authors. This proposal has been brought up again regarding the question of how
> to proceed and like in the previous years, this proposal raised no rejections
> from anybody present (this and in the previous years).
> In the end, the outcome of this VDDs FFmpeg session has been that I bring this
> proposal to the mailing list, finally. Therefore, I took the time to talk to
> several people not only about the proposal itself but also about the experience
> of other communities having such a committee driven mechanism of dealing with
> CoC conflicts. From that the idea emerged to get an overview of the actual community
> opinion of things is to conduct a simple survey about this question. So this is
> exactly what I'd like to do next to giving the mere proposal.
> The proposal of a community committee summarized:
> - A committee is to be created consisting of community members that are voted
> into it
> - This committee can (upon request) sanction violations of our CoC by its given
> powers
> - The committee is object to reelection every year
> A more detailed possible implementation of the proposal is attached as a patch to
> our developers documentation. The survey is done to get an idea of what the community
> thinks about that matter and its proposed solution.
> The survey shall be conducted for everyone to participate freely, so a simple
> thread on the mailing list would hardly be suitable and will most likely end in
> endless discussions. To help with that, we've set up a survey that can be done completely
> anonymously by sending out private tokens to all possible participants. Even the survey
> admins cannot map given survey answers to a person/token.
> Please note that this survey is _not_ meant to be a vote about the proposal. It is to
> determine if we should actually have a refinement/vote on instantiating such a
> community committee - depending on the community's point of view.
> I will start this survey and sending out tokens directly to every subscriber of
> the ffmpeg-devel mailing list on this Friday, Nov 23rd. If you don't want to
> participate in the survey, you can send me a private mail before that data to
> exclude your mail address from the participants lists. Afterwards you can click
> the link in the mails to opt out of the survey yourself. The survey will end on
> Mondday, Dez 3nd (a little more than a week). Afterwards, I will post the results
> of the survey here in this thread. 
> I'd really appreciate participation in the survey from everyone. I'd like to ask to file
> just one survey for every mail address you might have registered here - you can opt-out
> or just ignore additional mails. I'm sorry for spam for everyone not reading this thread.
> Many thanks to the KDE community and Lydia in particular for discussion and supporting us
> with the survey infrastructure.

the survey ended on Monday, results are given below.

It has been criticized that the survey does not cover more detailed questions about the folks who do not think that the community is currently hostile. Several people thought about the survey design and yet that part was not covered. We might go for another survey on that part if people really want it - I guess we can run another one on the KDE infrastructure. Not to perceive the community to be hostile does not mean to reject a community committee (or changes to the CoC or other related actions), though. Also, that Q2 to Q4 only appeared if the previous answer was yes (in the sense of a hostile environment) has been criticized. Well, the assumption was that if you feel no to be your answer to a question, all follow-ups would not fit into that - why to ask if you're affected if you don't see a hostile community? That this might also have been done differently, is out of the question. Easier to say afterwards, though. And like all the criticism there has been, it might be helpful for the future so thank you if you had send me feedback about the survey!

These are the results. I'll leave interpretation of that open for discussion and ask the community how to proceed with the results. The results are:

There have been 3 binary questions and a free form text for suggestions as alternatives to the proposed committee. I tried to summarize below. If anyone is interested in all the full texts, that can for sure be setup somehow.

There were 1891 mail addresses on ffmpeg-devel, I removed one subscriber manually, 19 opted out on their own, some 90-100 mails bounced during sending the tokens, of the remaining people 196 surveys have been filed giving roughly 10% participation.

Q1: Do you consider the FFmpeg community currently to be a hostile environment?

Yes:  67 (34.18%)
No:  129 (65.82%)

Q2: Is your participation in the project influenced in a negative way by this level of hostility?

Yes: 58 (86.57%)
No:   9 (13.43%)

Q3: Do you think a community driven committee would be a valid way of improving the situation?

Yes: 47 (81.03%)
No:  11 (18.97%)

Q4: Do you see any alternative approach?

(This was available to all 11 "No" records from Q3)

- blame hostile people publicly
- better newbie support, be more welcoming in general
- not ignoring patches, be more gentle to users trying to fix shortcomings
- do more specific CoC
- just ignore hostile people
- committee might raise two tier community
- clarification of decision process in the community
- committee might be received as "thought policing"

(If I forgot an important aspect for anyone, feel free to just send a mail to the discussion or a private mail to me if you wish to keep that thing private as all of the above are)

As said above, I've send the results. I'm not going to post my own (biased) thoughts right now in this post, I'll just join the discussion afterwards.


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