Non controversial questions are settled by consensus. However, whenever a decision cannot be reached by unanimous agreement, a vote is called for. The commit-point for or against a motion are summed, the total accumulated commit-points determining the outcome.
Such a system endows a collaborative software project, open source or not, to reach agreement in a timely and orderly fashion. It is much less vulnerable to disruption by unscrupulous participants than Apache's current voting procedures. I designate an organization where voting power derives from the number of commits made by an individual, typically a software developer, as a committocracy.
FeasibilityGiven any reasonably-open version control system, it should be fairly easy to write software which assigns commit points to each committer. During a vote it is a matter of simple arithmetic to tally the commit-points expressed for or against a motion.
In the case of git, the following command can be used to compute the commit-points accumulated by Alice.
git log --format='%ad %an' --date=short|uniq|grep Alice|wc -l
Worse of both worlds or best of both worlds?A committocracy is less efficient than the BDFL model for decision making, and compared to the Apache-way, it grants less power to newcomers. However, a committocracy is a fair system in the sense that the same rules apply to all. Today's committer with the most committer-points can be different than that of tomorrow. Moreover, compared to the Apache-way, a committocracy drastically reduces the risk of a project going haywire after admitting a new member. As a corollary, a project can safely reduce the wait-and-see period preceding the admission of new committers. Thus, newcomers may be granted committership status more quickly.
Psychological effectsImmediately after electing a new committer, accepting him or her as an equal member of the community has powerful positive effects on the psyche of the electee. In a minority of cases it results in the electee becoming a major contributor of the project. However, this positive effect is often short-lived. After a few months of modest activity, it can even transform itself to sense of entitlement which can be devastating at the hands of a less-than-scrupulous committer wielding veto powers. Fortunately, most people are fairly decent and do not abuse their rights in any blatant way.
In a committocracy, voting power accrues with each day involving a commit. As the entitlement of the committer grows with each contribution, the positive psychological effects of belonging to the community may be longer lasting, in particular because accrual in voting rights it is deserved, i.e. based on "merit". However, since I am not aware of any committocracy in existence, I can only speculate on the longer duration of said positive effects.
Is a committocracy a meritocracy?No, not exactly. Granting one voting point per day rewards participants most committed to the project over a lengthy period. It does not directly take into account the value of each commit. In a very general sense, granting veto rights to all committers can also be considered as a meritocracy because it rewards participants with most endurance in arguments. It is just a different, and in my opinion less pertinent, measure of merit.
Does it matter?What is the point of a committocracy , since it obviously does not perfectly capture the notion of merit? Moreover, why change the current voting system if only a few people complain about it?
While a committocracy is not a perfect or even a very good measure of merit, it is still a much better measure than a 0 or 1 switch correlative with veto powers. Since OSS contributors surrender so much of their independence to the OSS organization, in this case the ASF, the organization must ensure that its rules are as just as possible.