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Subject: Re: [boost] [review queue] What to do about the library review queue?
From: Robert Ramey (ramey_at_[hidden])
Date: 2017-03-14 21:53:39

On 3/14/17 5:01 AM, Niall Douglas via Boost wrote:
> Dear Boost,
> I see that new candidate Boost libraries entering the review queue have
> exploded in recent years, with no less than *twenty-three* proposed
> libraries awaiting a review.
> As the ongoing strength and vitality of Boost is inextricably linked to
> new growth, I think that waiting around for years for someone to
> volunteer to manage a review is not healthy. If a library author has
> invested the very significant effort to develop a Boost-quality library,
> the least Boost can do is to try harder to provide timely reviews and
> that means persuading more people to volunteer to manage reviews.
Right - it also means motivating more people to write reviews

> In the past people have argued that for every library you submit for
> review, you should manage a review in return. Myself, Antony and a few
> others have adhered to that rule, and if every library author did so
> there would be no outstanding review queue. However there are problems
> in that in itself in terms of moral hazard, and also because the review
> manager needs to usually be fairly expert in a library being reviewed,
> else it can be very hard to judge the worth and validity of reviews. A
> shortage of suitably expert review managers will always be a problem for
> some types of library.

All correct. This suggestion has been floating around since at least
2010. I think it's time to implement it. I propose the follwing text
to be placed in the appropriate place.

"Only those who have managed a boost review can expect their library
submissions to be to be reviewed."

This clearly states the rule and allows for some exceptions. If howard
hinnant want so submit a library - I'm not going to demand he have acted
previously as review manager - though on second tought, maybe I should -
he'd do a great job!!!

> I therefore ask boost-dev what to do? Some options:


I'm not crazy about suggestions involving money transfer (though I could
always use some myself!). Let's see how the above change works out and
than talk about it.

> 4. Finally there is the problem of libraries of high quality, but not a
> good fit for Boost because they are so esoteric and niche that nobody
> could provide a useful review, and without useful reviews the review
> manager can't really recommend acceptance. This will be an increasing
> problem with time anyway as more of the low hanging C++ library fruit is
> picked, but I suppose one could just kick that decision can down the
> road and see if 2x $500 payments might help scare up more high quality
> reviews.

On one hand, we could say that if there's no one qualified to manage the
review - where are we going to find qualified people to review it?

IRIC Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell worked 20 years on
Principia Mathematica. They submitted it to a publisher and he couldn't
find anyone to review it. He told them - If I can't find anyone to read
it, how many copies might I sell? The ended up publishing it at their
own expense. So all you library writers out there who are having
trouble getting your stuff reviewed, take comfort in the fact that
you're in good company! (on the other hand they had tenure) (source

But let's worry about that when the case comes up.

> 5. We could try guilting more people into review managing, and redouble
> banging the drum to scare up more volunteers.
Right - we've been doing that - how's that working?

I'm actually very concerned about the number of reviews. I've made
efforts to address this -- See my Boost 2.0 video - particularly the
last couple of minutes. But it is a separate question. Maybe open a
second thread on this.

To summarize, I think this is valid concern, I think the first idea to
address it is a good one, I think it's worth a try and I think the
decision to try it should be non-controversial.

Robert Ramey

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