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

Oystein Eftevaag wintermute at geheb.com
Tue Mar 3 21:11:02 CET 2009

My two cents...

There's countless open source projects around. Most, by far (it seems) 
have some activity for a few months or a year, then gradually die off. 
Projects with a date of last activity from 2004 are littered all over 

That's what happens with projects that consists of just people like me, 
who would struggle with finding enough energy to put in the needed 
energy for a project to flourish (on the side of a full-time game coder 
job) and just manages the occasional bout. With just people like me, 
projects will always die a slow death.

Then you have projects like ScummVM, which are fortunate enough to have 
people like you and Eugene. People who (miraculously, from my point of 
view) manage to find the time and energy outside of a fulltime job to 
organize, manage, and provide the gluework needed for a project of this 
size. And, people like you ensure that people like me stick around to do 
the occasional bit of work.

And from personal experience, the biggest killer for that sort of drive 
is The Committee. Testing the waters before making a big change can be a 
good thing;  feeling like you NEED to have every move you want to make 
be prodded and warped through through three rounds of discussions, is 
not. The t-shirt discussion is a good example. There would never be any 
sort of consensus reached; at some point someone just has to step up or 
nothing will happen.

In volunteer projects, opinions are a dime a dozen. The work put in is 
the only thing that really matters. Keeping everyone informed and making 
them feel they have a say, is nice, but it comes strictly secondary IMHO.

// Oystein / vinterstum

Max Horn wrote:
> 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.
> Bye,
> Max
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