[Scummvm-devel] Understaffing (Was: What is happening to the ScummVM team?)

Max Horn max at quendi.de
Tue Mar 3 18:47:31 CET 2009

Am 13.02.2009 um 11:06 schrieb Johannes Schickel:

> Max Horn schrieb:
>> For me, a team leader is not just a title, but also a measure of  
>> your activities. To me, Kirben qualifies in many ways as being a  
>> team lead. So do you, BTW.
> I do not really see "team leader" as much more than a title. That  
> does not mean I do not value your work though. Of course in certain  
> situations the team leads could (and maybe should) just decide on  
> what to do on their own, but apart a "team lead" isn't much  
> different from a normal developer, IMHO.
> On the other hand seeing that there are people who care less and  
> others who care more it might make sense to use "team leads" as  
> position for certain members, but in general I do not feel a real  
> need to do so.

After thinking about this for a couple weeks, and watching what  
happens here, and trying to not do stuff but instead waiting for  
others to pick it up, I think I just cannot agree with this. In fact,  
I get more and more pissed off thinking about it. :-(. The following  
is not meant to be an attack against Johannes or anybody personal,  
BTW, I hope it doesn't come across like that. In fact, it's direct to  
the whole team -- since nobody objected to what Johannes wrote, I  
assume most of you either share his view or don't care.

In *my* opinion, Team leads are people who spend a lot of time and  
energy to push things forward that would otherwise never happen -- by  
constantly annoying people to do it, or just doing it themselves. Team  
leads take responsibility.

To test this theory, in the past couple of weeks I constantly asked  
for "someone" to do things, following your stance that team leads are  
mostly just normal devs. According to that theory, it shouldn't be  
necessary for Eugene and me to do all the annoying boring tedious  
work, because "someone else", a guy just like us, should step up and  
do the work.

Yet in virtually no situation did that happen. No progress on the T- 
Shirts (poor timofonic generously offered his help, but nobody took it  
up). People like the idea of a build server, and in the past people  
have offered to help with it. But it seems that unless I drive this  
(setup the server with qvist, start buildbot going, provide a detailed  
instructions for porters, then push every porter personally until he  
gets around to setting up his build system), this will never happen.  
Consider this a challenge to you, guys, prove me wrong! Spearhead the  
build server (just talk to qvist he'll set it up and give you access)!

I don't hold my breath on the rescue of the SCI tools, somebody  
willing to maintain forums and wikis (or even transit the forums to  
phpBB 3), etc. Of course these things are mostly no fun, so I  
absolutely can understand it when people are not interested in working  
on them. Mind you, I am not complaining about non-team-leads. I just  
want to highlight what in my eyes the difference between a team lead  
and a regular dev is...

On the positive side, lots of people started contributing to SCI,  
which is a great thing. Totally blew me away. We really have a ton of  
great developers on this team! Of course working on SCI is fun in many  
ways, and you guys are here because you want to have some fun, because  
you draw some kind of satisfaction working on certain parts of ScummVM.

Most of you are probably not here because you want to manage stuff.  
Fair enough.  So you rely on "someone else" for all the annoying work,  
or you don't care at all about it. Again, fair enough, your free  
choice. But I feel that without a few people pushing things ahead  
(portability, maintenance of web/forums/wiki, building new  
infrastructure, GSoC, ...), then we wouldn't be were we are now. Not  
by far.

The past weeks supported the following impression I have: If Eugene  
and me just make decisions and just do things, stuff happens.  
Progress. OTOH, if we ask and wait for input all the time, as we have  
been asked to, we just wait, and wait, and wait, and nothing happens.  
I don't mind asking, but I do mind having to report, or having to ask  
when I feel I won't get a reply anyway.

I got more and more frustrated in the past weeks. I feel that I am  
being asked to work with a committee instead of just doing my job, but  
the committee doesn't even bother to meet up, let alone "help".  
Recently I wonder more and more, "where's the fun in it for me?" It  
used to be that I was proud because I felt that I helped ScummVM reach  
new level of portability and extensibility that it couldn't achieve  
beforehand, that I felt I made a difference by pushing the quality of  
the project, and by ensuring things just run. But when you have to  
write reports on that stuff, it suddenly isn't fun anymore.

I feel that I cannot continue work as a team lead under these  
conditions  -- extending what you wrote above, the position of "team  
lead" equates to "regular team member who is expected to do all the  
dirty annoying work and should write reports about it to everybody".  
If that's the case, then I no longer want this position.

As a first consequence, I have decided that I will not act as a GSoC  
admin this year. I'll be happy to mentor a student, but I will *not*  
chase after mentors who neglect their job, and push them to ensure  
their students do any work, in addition to doing the same with  
students who aren't mine. I feel we really need to improve our  
mentoring this year, and I'll try to set an example by focusing on my  
student, and not herding the other mentors and students along.

Hopefully, "someone else" will step up to help Eugene with this, so  
that he doesn't have to do all that annoying work alone; he probably  
has even less spare time to waste on it than I have. Sorry, Eugene. I  
hope you don't feel as pissed as I currently do.


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