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Re: The CPAN Covenant

Steffen Mueller
November 21, 2011 00:30
Re: The CPAN Covenant
Message ID:
Hi Neil,

thank you for your work! I think it's very important.

On 11/17/2011 09:13 AM, Neil Bowers wrote:
> A week ago I posted a proposal for a voluntary pledge, which CPAN
> module authors could sign up to. With Bill Ward's tweak to the wording,
> the discussion on per-distribution stating, and generalising the RT point:
>     I hereby give permission to grant co-maintainership
>     to [% distribution %], if all the following conditions are met:

Refer to the "PAUSE administrators" instead of A 
mailing list is a weird thing to carry authority. :)

>     (1) I haven't released the module for a year or more
>     (2) There are outstanding issues in the module's public bug tracker
>     (3) Email to my CPAN email address hasn't been answered after a month
>     (4) The requester wants to make worthwhile changes that will benefit CPAN
>     In the event of my death, then the time-limits in (1) and (3) do not apply.


> In the discussion on module-authors, and talking to people at the London
> Perl Workshop (LPW): about 60% thought it was a good idea, 20% a bad idea, and
> 20% indifferent. Most of the 'bad' being "it works that way already".

Sadly, it does only because we work hard. If CPAN authors were proactive 
by explicitly endorsing the above, our task would be a lot easier.

> Talking to people at LPW, a number commented (paraphrasing):
>      Just email the author, wait a month,
>      then push for a handover
> Which to me doesn't quite match the spirit of the PAUSE "taking over" process
> described at


> I recently took over a module after 2 months, during which I tried a number
> of ways to track down the author, mailed various other people, and posted
> to module-authors. That seemed appropriate, because the author had clearly
> put a lot of thought and effort into this, and his other modules.
> So, I went to Andreas Koenig, since he has more experience of module handovers
> than most of us! The group behind have to balance two sides:
> respecting individual authors, and helping the continued development of CPAN.
> If none of the group know the current author, they have to err on
> the author's side, not CPAN:
>      "I've heard too many upset developers going berserk because they felt
>       [their module was expropriated]"
> Asked whether he thought an explicit pledge would be useful, Andreas said:
>      "An explicit statement in a distribution like the one in your picture
>       would make our lives a lot easier"

I'm not surprised Andreas and I agree on this.

> As a number of others commented, Andreas feels it should be stated on
> a per-distribution basis, and not per-author.

Well, ideally, I think, an author should be able to do either one (or 
both). Personally, I'm perfectly willing to hand responsibility to the 
PAUSE admins if I'm not reachable/whatever. I would not want to go 
through the effort of marking each of my 150 or so modules.

> In a side-discussion, it was pointed out that sometimes an author would
> be happy for someone else to take over the module.
> In this case the covenant would become:
>     I hereby give permission to grant lead authorship
>     to [% distribution %], if the following conditions are met:
>     (1) There are outstanding issues in the module's public bug tracker
>     (2) The requester wants to make worthwhile changes that will benefit CPAN

Not even require an email to the author? Really?

> There are at least three ways this could be provided:
>      (a) a file included in the distribution. Eg Covenant.txt
>      (b) text in the README


README is almost useless since it requires somebody to grovel through 
the distribution. It needs to be something that can be automated and 
displayed on some overview page -- like the distribution page for (and metacpan), something akin to "View Permissions" in 

>      (c) a feature on PAUSE, where you can select the "ownership status"
>          or similar

This would be the place where you mark an author as endorser.

> The problem with (c), is that it's not very public; the information needs
> to be closely associated with the distribution itself. To make things
> easy for all involved, I think (a) is probably the best. The downside with
> this is that having lost interest in one of your distributions, you now
> have to do a release to let the (Perl) world know. The alternative would
> be to email the covenant to that's publicly archived,
> so your covenant could be found, especially once a convention
> has been established.

Yeees, keep in mind, though, that is read & acted upon 
by only a handful of really rather busy people. More manual work for us 
is likely to lead to work being dropped.

Steffen Perl Programming lists via nntp and http.
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