Hack Week, Patch Day, Fix Everything Hour

So hot on the heels of Novell's 'hack week' comes Sun's 'patch day'...

Important to note I'm speaking entirely personally here. Does anyone else find this kind of thing vaguely bogus? It feels to me like this kind of short-termism is heavily aimed at PR rather than real usefulness and likely to cause more problems than it solves.

Hack week isn't as bad as patch day, okay. You can probably do some useful stuff a week's hacking. And it seems most of the Novell guys used it as time to work on something they would otherwise have done anyway (just more slowly), so it probably didn't cause any harm in terms of stuff being half-finished and then abandoned.

But 'patch day' is just silly. Here's what they say about it:

"The goal of the patch day is to go through all Sun's GNOME (JDS) patches and: - push the less controversial ones upstream - a great opportunity to vent your frustration about all the crack that may have slipped in - start a discussion about the more controversial patches"

sorry, but I really don't think a single day is going to be enough time for you to go through your entire GNOME patch load and actually do anything substantially useful. Patching sensibly and - wherever possible - in sync with other distributions, and pushing your patches upstream as far and as soon as possible, is an ongoing issue of good maintenance practice, not something you can do in a blaze of publicity for 24 hours every year. I think it would have been rather more productive for Sun's maintainers to simply start reviewing their own patches and then quietly making appropriate moves to drop them or get them merged upstream as an ongoing process rather than attempt to rope the entire rest of the GNOME community into fixing their problems for them in a twenty four hour period. If the intention is for 'patch day' to form the start of such a process, fine, but then why have a 'patch day' in the first place? Why is an entirely mundane issue of good maintenance sufficiently important for you to try and get everyone else to drop everything and pitch in right now?

More generally, I guess I'm just not a big fan of the 'let's focus on one thing really intensely for a short period' school of thought which leads to initiatives like these, probably because I've seen it have damaging effects a few too many times. (Whatever) Days are not a substitute for decent project management...


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