Re: [Ksummit-2012-discuss] [ATTEND or not ATTEND] That's the question!

From: Srivatsa S. Bhat
Date: Fri Jul 06 2012 - 06:22:29 EST

On 07/06/2012 03:33 PM, Glauber Costa wrote:
> On 07/06/2012 02:00 PM, Srivatsa S. Bhat wrote:
>> On 07/06/2012 03:24 PM, Frederic Weisbecker wrote:
>>> On Fri, Jul 06, 2012 at 01:43:06PM +0400, Glauber Costa wrote:
>>>> On 06/20/2012 11:51 PM, J. Bruce Fields wrote:
>>>>> On Sat, Jun 16, 2012 at 07:29:06AM -0600, Jonathan Corbet wrote:
>>>>>> On Sat, 16 Jun 2012 12:50:05 +0200 (CEST)
>>>>>> Thomas Gleixner <tglx@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>>>>>>> A good start would be if you could convert your kernel statistics into
>>>>>>> accounting the consolidation effects of contributions instead of
>>>>>>> fostering the idiocy that corporates have started to measure themself
>>>>>>> and the performance of their employees (I'm not kidding, it's the sad
>>>>>>> reality) with line and commit count statistics.
>>>>>> I would dearly love to come up with a way to measure "real work" in
>>>>>> some fashion; I've just not, yet, figured out how to do that. I do
>>>>>> fear that the simple numbers we're able to generate end up creating the
>>>>>> wrong kinds of incentives.
>>>>> I can't see any alternative to explaining what somebody did and why it
>>>>> was important.
>>>>> To that end, the best resource for understanding the value of somebody's
>>>>> work is the kernel page--if their work has been discussed there.
>>>>> So, all you need to do is to hire a dozen more of you, and we're
>>>>> covered!
>>>>> --b.
>>>>>> Any thoughts on how to measure "consolidation effects"? I toss out
>>>>>> numbers on code removal sometimes, but that turns out to not be a whole
>>>>>> lot more useful than anything else on its own.
>>>>>> Thanks,
>>>> Resurrecting this one.
>>>> So something just came across my mind: When I first read this thread, my
>>>> inner reaction was: "People will find ways to bypass and ill-optimize
>>>> their workflow for whatever measure we come up with".
>>>> That's is pure human nature. Whenever we set up a metric, that becomes a
>>>> goal and a bunch of people - not all - will deviate from their expected
>>>> workflow to maximize that number. This happens with paper count in the
>>>> scientific community, for the Higgs Boson's sake! Why wouldn't it happen
>>>> with *any* metric we set for ourselves?
>>>> So per-se, the fact that we have a lot of people trying to find out what
>>>> our metrics are, and look good in the face of it, is just a testament to
>>>> the success of Linux - but we know that already.
>>>> The summary here, is that I don't think patch count *per se* is a bad
>>>> metric. Maybe we should just tweak the way we measure a bit to steer
>>>> people towards doing more useful work, and that would aid our review.
>>>> The same way we have checkpatch, we can have something automated that
>>>> will attempt to rule out some trivial patches in the counting process.
>>>> We can scan a patch, and easily determine if each part of it is:
>>>> * pure whitespace
>>>> * pure Documentation change
>>>> * comment fix
>>>> And if a patch is 100 % comprised by those, we simply don't count it.
>>>> People that just want to increase their numbers - they will always
>>>> exist, will tend to stop doing that. Simply because doing it will not
>>>> help them at all.
>>> OTOH, documentation changes or comment fixes, and even sometimes pure whitespace
>>> fixes, can be very valuable contributions. This can be a useful and ungrateful
>>> work and that deserve credit.
>> Very true!
> Said another way: "valuable" here, is mostly semantics. People who go to
> non-technical conferences and speak about Linux do a valuable
> contribution. People who creates business around Linux do a valuable
> contribution. We don't have to come up with an statistic that measure
> "valuable contributions". We just need to have something that serves as
> an index some people can use. People optimizing for that add noise to
> the metric - probably true for patchcount or any other, and filtering
> this noise is useful, even if *some* useful information is lost.
> And in this particular context of this metric, I believe this kind of
> contribution to be just noise.

Right, what is "valuable" depends on the context and is also relative, to
a certain extent.

Considering what Frederic said, and also your point about people invariably
trying to optimize on the metric we come up with, I wonder if its even worth
trying to come up with a metric like that. I just wish people could do an
honest evaluation of their work, rather than trying to bump up some magic

Srivatsa S. Bhat
IBM Linux Technology Center

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