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How To Escalate Issues At The ASF

Apache projects prefer to use consensus to make decisions, or use voting to more formally record approval (or not) for specific actions. But what happens when a project is at a complete impasse, or when you feel that important issues aren't being taken seriously or fully discussed before action is taken?

If any Apache project participant feels there are serious issues not being addressed, then here is a guide for effective ways to escalate your concern in the right way for the ASF's organization.


When major decisions can't be made in a project, or when individual contributors or part of a PMC believe that the project is not properly discussing critical issues, you may want to escalate the concern to see if there is other mediation help available.

The best way to get help from the rest of the volunteers here at Apache is to follow the steps below.

Clearly Outline The Issue With References

When communities disagree, it's important to clarify what the root issue is. There have been cases of long and heated discussion threads that turn out to be primarily about irrelevant issues or how proposals were phrased, and aren't actually about the problem at hand. Anytime an issue deserves escalation, it also deserves your time to clearly re-state the question at hand.

These steps may seem frustrating when the problem is recurring or has the obvious answer that you know is right! But in an all-volunteer led organization, re-framing the issue in clear terms with pointers is important so that the whole community has a chance to understand your specific point. We're all volunteers here, and not everyone in the community has the time to keep up on all conversations. Make it easy for the rest of the community to understand your case.

Work With The Project Or Community First

Before escalating outside of the relevant project, Incubator poding, or community, ask yourself: have I truly exhausted all avenues working within this community? Any issues within or about a project should be discussed with the project's own PMC as a whole on the dev@ (or private@) list first, before escalating outside of the project.

Double-check that you've expressed the issue clearly and calmly. Be sure to separate your discussion of what the issue is from what your suggestion for solving it is - it's not always clear to everyone in a busy project what the difference is.

Healthy Apache projects are expected to self-govern in an inclusive manner as much as possible. Whether it's an issue with internal project decisions, or a question of breaking Apache policies or best practices, the right place to start - and continue - the conversation is with the project's PMC.

When a serious issue involves an outside company (perhaps abusing a project's brand or processes), outside help may be needed. But any escalation of outside corporate influence or abuse should still be addressed to the PMC first to give them a chance to review.

Escalate To The Correct Mailing List, Officer, Or Board

For more pointers, see the Services Available To Apache Projects listing. Note that the private members@ mailing list is never the right place to escalate project issues.

Exception Cases For Escalation

There are a few rare cases that may be exceptions to the above guide, depending on severity and urgency:

Just looking for some general advice on the ASF?

The best place to ask general public questions not covered above is ComDev.