Mail based contribution workflow


More than once during interviews people mentioned mail based contribution workflows or how developers & forges interact via mail. Most notably the Linux kernel, Qemu, Ceph (no longer accepts patches via mail but did until recently) or SourceHut which has an issue tracker relying on email for interactions.

I was discussing this today with a person who will remain anonymous (unless they want to reveal themselves) and here are some excerpts from the conversation:

Git was built to work with email, and email is already a federated, open

And suggested GitHub should

learn to speak email


email, itself [is] a federated protocol.

But it runs into some cultural differences between the platforms, which we’ve seen in all of these experiments before. Using tickets as an example, their usage is different between GitHub/GitLab and [other forges]. Users who just have questions or need general support will often open an issue on GH/GL. [Other forges], however, offers mailing lists, and most projects have a dedicated mailing list for user support and discussions. These projects only use their tickets for actual bugs and confirmed features, things which need to get done, and are frequently annoyed by GH users who don’t understand this and submit garbage to the bug tracker.

This also causes friction between, say, the PR/MR workflow and the email workflow. One example is that GH users are used to pushing new commits to address review problems from earlier commits, where email users prefer to have the errors rebased out of existence. There are other examples besides.

Which leads to skepticism with regard to the goal fedeproxy is pursuing:

So with mindshare leaks causing problems already, I can’t imagine that formalizing the connections would improve things at all.