Strong communities can best function when work is done openly. All ASF projects use Mailing Lists as their primary means of working and communicating. Code is always publicly available, and Votes about all aspects of project direction are performed publicly, over a specific period of time – allowing contributors worldwide time to participate. Individuals participating in healthy communities make their affiliations public, and ensure that they are wearing an ASF contributor’s hat when they are participating in the community. Releases of software products are voted upon publicly, and our code and decisions are always available for review. Openness allows new users the opportunity to learn. Every non-public mailing list at the ASF must have a specific reason to be kept private.

The concept of doing as much work as possible in public is fundamental to The Apache Way. For a community to best work and grow, it’s technical work must happen in the open.

  • Open communication promotes community growth. Having existing and past technical discussions and decisions available in the mailing list archives makes it easier for new users to understand the project and the choices the community made to get where it is today.
  • Open communication ensures community health. Having every email you write to the project lists be published may be unnerving to some at first, but it’s crucial to ensure that the whole community can contribute to the work. This also ensures that community members in different regions, or who work on different schedules, can still participate.
  • Face to face meetings must have results published and voted on. While in-person meetings or telephone conferences are sometimes held to increase collaboration, the results of any meetings must be published to the project mail lists. Any decisions made off-list must be ratified by a vote or lazy consensus on the public lists to be valid.
  • Open work ensures everyone can participate. Having all of the technical discussions, consensus building, and code and documentation work happen in the open ensures that everyone can participate and everyone – contributors and just lurkers alike – can learn from the process and understand where the project is going.
  • Open work ensures our projects remain neutral. A healthy community has some diversity, and ensuring that all work on the project happens in the open means that no one set of contributors or no corporation or other organization can command the project or use it solely for their own ends. Everyone can see what the project is doing and who is advocating what within the project.
  • Open communication allows for oversight. Within the ASF, there are a few core values that we expect all our projects to follow. Having the project’s work happen in the open ensures that the board and the PMC can review what’s happening to ensure the core values are accepted and followed.
  • Open status ensures that everyone can know what’s going on. New users don’t need to know who to ask to learn about the project: everything is on the mailing list, the archives, the website.
  • Open lists promote open reputations. Merit within a community is gained through open work within that community. While each community has it’s own standards for levels of merit (i.e. at what point an individual may be voted in as a committer), open lists mean that all of a person’s work on other communities is also visible.