Sonntag, 14. Februar 2016

Credit the first or last uploader on meta::cpan?

Credit problem

This post is related to the post the "credit the last uploader" problem by RJBS.

A related thread on twitter caused IMHO more misunderstandings than solutions. Twitter is not the best medium to discuss complex problems.

RJBS still did a deep analysis in the above referenced post.

In summary I agree mostly with the opinions. But the suggested solution

MetaCPAN Web should stop showing the name and image of the latest uploader as prominently, and should show the first-come user instead.

isn't IMHO an improvement. It solves a problem and creates a new one.

Persons in the life cycle

At the minimum a distribution on CPAN has an author and an uploader. In many cases the author is the same person as the uploader. Maybe the distribution has users. Also there can be persons submitting issues or patches.

Distributions can also have co-maintainers, persons with the permission to upload new versions of the distribution.

Persons without permission can upload non-authorized versions. They are available but marked as non-authorized.

During the life of a distribution the maintainers (people with upload permission) can change.

In my opinion everybody contributing to a distribution should be attributed, including submitters of issues. Even bad contributions which are removed later improve the quality. In free software with unpaid developers honor and attribution is important for motivation.

Prominent person

The release page of a distribution on meta::cpan shows in the top right corner name and image of one person, the last uploader.

Now RJBS means that the first uploader of a distribution is more important.

Maybe, if the first uploader is still very active. But what does "very active" mean and how cam meta::cpan measure it? It can't.

Imagine distributions first uploaded 15 years ago. Meanwhile maintainers changed, features where added, code completely rewritten. Which person should be displayed?

Only one

If only one can be displayed, who should it be?

In my role as user I prefer the last uploader. For me it is important to get a feeling of quality, which is best associated with a picture and a name of a person. This sounds like pre-justice, and it is. Experience and trust is a main factor of human decisions. The picture and name of a person work like a brand of a computer manufacturer. 

But if person A writes most of the code and person B is the last uploader, shouldn't A be displayed? No, as a user I prefer B, because the last uploader did the last quality check.


Let's look at very successful solutions like github. Github allows repositories owned by organisations (all members have permissions) or single persons. Organisations are not possible on PAUSE without change.

Another idea inspired from github could be to display miniature pictures of all persons. Github displays all contributors. In case of CPAN this could be all current persons with upload permissions. I prefer this solution.

If there is no better solution, nothing should be changed. The change suggested by RJBS can harm the motivation of maintainers, some could feel it like a slap into the face.

Anyway there should be broad consensus and not a decision by one or a few persons.

Edit: Some hours after finishing this post I detected a similar post by Neil Bowers: It takes a community to raise a CPAN module.