Some random thoughts on the GNOME Translation Project CVS access thing

One of the recurring things that keep coming up on the GNOME i18n mailing lists is the issue of CVS access. Prima facie the issue of CVS access for file commits is very simple. It is assumed that for that particular locale/language, there will be a language team in place along with a designated project lead. The volunteers who translate the files for that language would pass on the files to the project lead who will commit them to the GNOME CVS. This will be the workflow in the initial stages. Slowly as and when the project lead observes that a small number of volunteers are doing excellent work and providing the much needed heavy-lift, the project lead will propose for CVS access to the selected volunteer thus acknowledging the work done as well as providing the much needed “with great power comes great responsibility” line. Sane, safe and simple – these are the hallmarks of the process.

The glitch happens when all sorts of odd combinations appear. Assume, the project lead does not have CVS access : did hear you gasp – it happens. Or, the project lead(s) have misplaced their CVS access – that happens too. Sometimes it also so happens that the project lead choses not to talk on the mailing list (in the absence of the team having a separate mailing list) but does so in private or worse does not talk at all. So in all the above we normally end up with a volunteer contributor who has taken on the task of translation of the GNOME files, completed a chunk of them and is waiting expectantly for someone/the project lead to commit them to the CVS so that (s)he can go back to what (s)he does best – translate. Of late this has been happening with far too much frequency than one would like and I wish I could propose a sane way of resolving this. Frankly, I cannot. Providing the stranded volunteers immediate CVS access is not done and might just be counterproductive. Encouraging other contributors who have CVS access to commit would be counterproductive and subverting the system in the long run. What could be done however is tell the project leads to be more commited towards doing things in a more transparent manner and on the i18n mailing list. A whole lot of folks who are project leads have tremendous demands on their time – a single mail validating the requirement for CVS access for the new volunteer might just be the medicine that the project would require. If the volunteer in question is already handling the same language for other projects/distributions, perhaps that would augment the case.