helpSavannah Administration - Support: sr #106581, doing something about stale jobs?


sr #106581: doing something about stale jobs?

Submitted by:  Karl Berry <karl>
Submitted on:  Sat Dec 13 00:40:23 2008  
Votes:  80  
Category: Savannah trackers - bugs, tasks, etc.Priority: 5 - Normal
Severity: 3 - NormalStatus: None
Assigned to: NoneOperating System: None
Open/Closed: Open

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Fri Jan 1 19:28:44 2016, comment #15:

I am strongly in favour of automatically removing old "projects needing help" posts. Ideally the software would send a reminder after x (say 6) months asking the submitter to respond by clicking a link if the posting is still required, and if so, the date is updated, and if not, the post is hidden/deleted. Having posts from 2001, as is the current situation, devalues the entire section.

In the meantime, this can be done manually (I am happy to help) by emailing the submitter, and then either hiding/deleting or updating the date.

If all old posts are deleted, that would leave a usable section of 9 current posts, rather than 125 posts, almost all ancient.

Ian Gilfillan <greenman>
 Spam posted by tanchick
Fri Sep 19 22:59:10 2014, comment #14:


More old job-posting for your consideration.
Please reply if those can be deleted.

If you have access to fencepost, you can quickly see information about a project like so:
$ cd ~agn/gnu-sv-proj-stats-09-2014/
# Change "P=XXXX" to the SV project identifier
$ awk -v P=wasp 'NR==1 || $1==P' gnu-sv-projects.txt \
| cut -f1,2,3,5,10,14,16,17 | expand -t20

project_name project_type code_vcs code_max_year web_max_year url_homepage homepage_ok download_ok
wasp non-gnu cvs 2005.56 2004.75 1 0

-Assaf .

2004: project "Stolen Lives", need PHP developers:
website active but not on "", no code, no releases.
It seems like it has nothing to do with GNU Savannah any more.

2004: "Free Beltane 1":
Karl - this is your project...
Last update is 2005...

2005: "texi2latex": need XSLT developer.
last code update: 2008.
last release: 2005.

2005: "Nightrise" - irc daemon.
Last code update: 2005.
No releases.
No homepage.

2005: "Ghosts (Genealogy Software)"
Last code update: 2004.
Last release: 2004.
Last website update: 2004.

2005: "Web App Security Project": Ruby developer
No releases.
Last code update: 2005.
Last website update: 2004.

2005: "aeskulap": DICOM developer
last code update: 2007.
last website update: 2007.
no releases.

2005: "fatcontroler" : Python Developer
last code commit: 2005
no website commits, no home page.
Last release: 2005.

2006: "gann (Geek Artificial Neural Network)": C/C++ developer
Last code commit: 2006
No website commits, no home page.
last release: 2006.

2006: "afg" (game): python developer
last code commit: 2006.
last website update: 2006
last release: 2006.

2006: Curphoo: curses developer
last code commit: 2006
last website update: 2006
last release: 2006.

2006: "penalyze2": web-developer
last code commit: 2006
last website update: 2006 (only a stub homepage)
no releases.

2006: apso: (security proof of concept)
no code commits
last release: 2008
Home page not hosted on .

2006: "Jari OS": system C developers
no code commits.
no downloads.
stub homepage.

Assaf Gordon <agn>
Site Administrator
Mon Sep 1 22:10:47 2014, comment #13:

I've continued and deleted the following posts:

I do not think there are any other obvious candidates for deletion,
though I do think many of the postings/projects could be considered stale.
But a more detailed examination will be required for that.

- Assaf

Assaf Gordon <agn>
Site Administrator
Mon Aug 18 23:52:02 2014, comment #12:

The previously listed posts were deleted, as well as the followings:

- Assaf.

Assaf Gordon <agn>
Site Administrator
Fri Aug 15 22:06:43 2014, comment #11:

p.s. when your research so conclusively shows that a project is dead, i don't feel any need to confirm it :). feel free to just go ahead and zap them. all i would say is, if there are edge cases, better to err on the side of contact/non-deletion.

Karl Berry <karl>
Site Administrator
Fri Aug 15 21:54:08 2014, comment #10:

i'm fine with deleting those jobs. tx.

Karl Berry <karl>
Site Administrator
Fri Aug 15 21:33:30 2014, comment #9:

Clean-up continues.

Said items (from previous message) were deleted.
Additionally I've deleted the following posts which belonged to the same projects:

Below is the next batch, for your consideration.
Waiting for your 'go ahead'.

### 2003 - Source INSTALLer (source package installer) - No homepage, no downloads, Last code commit 2003. One (1) test message in mailing list from 2003.

### 2003 - Probity - Web Proxy Filter, no downloads, last code commit in 2003. Last homepage updated in 2003. Two non-spam messages from 2002 (one in each mailing list).
### Home page Says "Probity is an open source software currently in planning phases".

### 2003 - PYantra (IRC Bot). No downloads. Stub Homepage. Last code commit 10 years ago. No mailing list.
### Home page has one line, says "The bunch of idiots who wrote me are busy writing python code." It might have been funny in 2003.

### 2003 - Conduet Operating System. No download. Homepage link broken. No source code.

### 2003 - Minorfish (mailing list web manager). No downloads. Stub Home page last updated in 2001. Last code commit 11 years ago. No mailing list.

### 2003 - Babele. No homepage, No Downloads, no code, no mailing list.

### 2003 - Unofficial OSKit source (seems GNU Hurd related?)
### no downloads, stub homepage. last code commit 11 years ago. No mailing list.

### 2003 - BotBot. Homepage link broken. No downloads. Mailing-list links broken. Last code commit 11 years ago.

### 2003 - NEXml. No homepage, downloads, mailing-list, code commits.

### 2003 - Scrudgeware (packaging tool) - Homepage link broken. Downloads link broken. Last code commit 11 years ago. No mailing list.

### 2003 - lib PHTML Parse. Stub homepage. One release download from 2004. No mailing list. No code commits.

### 2003 - Maja (3d real-time games) - no homepage, no downloads, no code, no mailing list.

### 2003 - Model Builder graphical ODE Simulator. Homepage link broken. No downloads. No mailing list. Last code commit 10 years ago.

### 2003 - XBox game manager. Homepage and Downloads redirect to SourceForge (where there's activity from 2006). On Savanah, no source code or mailing list.

### 2003 - Search-CCSB. No Homepage, no Downloads, no mailing list. Last code commit 11 years ago.

### 2003 - HackedBox. Homepage, download links broken. Last code commit 10 years ago.

### 2003 - dvdrtools. No code commited. Last Homepage update 8 years ago. Mailing list activeity until 2007.
### Homepage says "dvdrtools has moved to" (which is a broken link).
### several download release files, all from same date 5-Feb-2005 .

### 2003 - Security Toolkit.
### Last code/homepage/mailing-list activity: 2004.

### 2003 - Pygmalion (python game). No homepage, no downloads, no mailing list. Last code commit 10 years ago.

Assaf Gordon <agn>
Site Administrator
Thu Aug 14 21:52:51 2014, comment #8:

I agree with deleting everything in your new (third) group without asking. (No one to ask. :) Thank you for all your efforts.

Just FYI, the story on "quagga" is that the FSF had a host and/or used software by that name. As you said, it's not related to quagga-the-routing-software. (The routing quagga originated with GNU zebra, as far as I understood it, but that was sadly abandoned and some quagga developers were not especially friendly to GNU.)

Regarding the other discussion, I hope I'll have time to write a reply today.

Karl Berry <karl>
Site Administrator
Thu Aug 14 17:27:46 2014, comment #7:


I have failed to convince you with my sweeping 'delete all old messages' scheme :)
So I'll have to do it one-by-one...

Please note the general trend rising from these messages... I do think these are many 'stale' projects,
which also relates to our other discussion in savannah-hackers-public mailing list.

Please take a cursory view at the third (last) group of posting, and I hope you'll agree those can be deleted as well - I'll wait for your response before deleting any.

To be continued,
- Assaf

## I have deleted these job postings

### 2002 - GNU 3dKit - This package been decommissioned

### 2006 - DotGNU - decommissioned

### 2006 - Free Highschool Science texts

## Email sent to authors about these job posting, waiting for reply.

### 2001 - W3, last code commit in 2008.

### 2001 - X Language - last code update 10 years ago. Last website update - 3 years ago.

### 2002 - YaRET CD Encoder - Last Code/Release/Website update 10 years ago.

### 2002 - ParaGUI, last code commit / download - 10 years ago.

### 2002 - bananapos - last code commit - 9 years ago. No downloads.

### 2002 - Iso-Enginner (game), last code commit 12 years ago. Last non-spam mailing list message: 2002. Last homepage update: 2002.

### 2002 - MP3do, last code commit 9 years ago. Last release download: 2004. Last non-spam mailing list post - 2002.

### 2002 - Muddleftpd, last code commit, download release, homepage update: 2002. Last non-spam mailing list post - 2003.

### 2002 - gnumed - project is active elsewhere

## I want to delete these messages without asking the authors.

### 2001 - kakadu - no code, no homepage, no downloads.

### 2001 - Web-Site-Engine - last commit 12 years ago, last non-spam mailing-list message (unanswered): Oct 2002.

### 2001 - SimaKey server - last commit 12 years ago. no downloads, no homepage, no (non-spam) mailing-list emails.

### 2001 - AOO Bug Tracking System - no code, no downloads, homepage redirects to nonexisting host.

### 2001/2 - Jtrix - no code, no downloads, homepage redirects to nonexisting host.

### 2001 - Calcux - no code, no downloads, no homepage

### 2001 - HackSQL Database - no code, no downloads, no homepage

### 2002 - Universal Character Generator - last code commit 12 years ago. HomePage,Downloads,Mailinglist all lead to HTTP-404.

### 2002 - ZotzBrothers POS Plus - last code commit 12 years ago, Last website updated 12 years ago. 1 non-spam test message in mailing list.

### 2002 - Equinox Desktop Environment - last code commit 12 years ago.
## All signs indicates that development moved to SourceForge, last commit there is July 2014):

### 2002 - TipJar - no code, no homepage, no downloads

### 2002 - POWA - no code, no homepage, no downloads, no mailing list

### 2002 - Libysys - No code, no downloads, Homepage gives 404.

### 2002 - Quagga (formally "gnulist" ???)
### The project name is "Quagga", but the project id is "gnulist".
### "gnulist"'s last commit was 7 years ago.
### Clicking "Homepage" redirects to a Non-GNU project "Quagga - Routing Stack"
### which is very active (but is not related to this help-wanted post).

### 2002 - RubyServer, no code. Stub HomePage. No Downloads. Last non-spam mailing-list post - 2002.

### 2002 - Debian Control Center. Last code commit 11 years ago. No Home page, no downloads. Only spam in mailing list.

### 2002 - Border Crosser (text game). Last code commit - 11 years ago. Last homepage update: Dec 2002. No release downloads. Single non-spam mailing-list message: 2002.
### Multiple broken links to author's homepage, sourceforge project page.

### 2002 - Demo@Schools. Last code commit - 10 years ago. No home page. No downloads, no Mailing lists.

### 2002 - Free CNAB standards. No homepage, no downloads, no code commit, no mailing list.

### 2003 - indigo GLB. No homepage, No downloads, No code commits, no mailing list.

Assaf Gordon <agn>
Site Administrator
Wed Aug 13 22:46:33 2014, comment #6:

Hi Assaf - nothing to apologize for; I'm all for directness :). I just
wanted to know if there was something better than Savannah's jobs that
we could use for GNU "technical help wanted" organization in general.

I completely agree that all the specific jobs you've mentioned are
clearly postings that should be updated or removed. Please go ahead
with them.

However, I guess I resist the notion that a job has to be "recent" as
defined purely by date of modification. My job posting for Texinfo is
not recent, but it is still valid, and there is nothing to change in the

Regarding your "effective method" (I hate web interfaces that make
quoting such a pain), I agree with #1 and #2, I strongly disagree with #3
and #4, and #5 depends on what we call "outdated". The kinds of posts
you have noted are outdated, and fail criteria #2 as well. But not just
because a post was done X years ago. (Contacting the poster to see if
it's still relevant would always be fine, but not just removal.)

Also, I see nothing wrong with generic/permanent "we need developer"
posts, like for the Hurd. If and since Savannah jobs are "GNU help
wanted", well, having a job posting is our recommended way to get
visibility to potential contributors. Not every project would want
such; for example, I don't have such one for Texinfo (any more) because,
amazingly enough, new people came forward as a result of my previous job

Regarding decommissioned packages: Brandon and I are generally the one
who implement the "decommissioning", and it has been simply one step too
many to deal with deleting old jobs, and besides, people often come
forward wanting to clean up the job list (even though almost nothing has
ever actually happened :(). Please go ahead and remove any such!

Regarding -unavailable-: isn't this at least sometimes because email
addresses are not exposed unless you're logged in? I don't see
-unavailable- when I look at the findutils job
I see the (incorrect :), not -unavailable-.

You might argue that email addresses in job postings should be exposed
to people not logged in, but that's a different conversation.

Thanks for taking this one.


Karl Berry <karl>
Site Administrator
Wed Aug 13 16:24:46 2014, comment #5:

Hello Karl,

Item #4 is only an opinion, and I should have voiced it more subtly.
If it sounded harsh I apologize.

I do think, however, that the list as it currently stands is not inviting:
it does not give the impression of a vibrant community and active projects.

To me, to be effective, the list has to be up-to-date, and the posting should be specific about an a current issue; and purged when they are old, even it not fulfilled.
And while these postings on the website are more "stable" (as opposed to ephemeral),
announcing them could be done on other websites and media, perhaps even GNU's twitter account.
(This of course mean, complementing items #1 and #2 below, that generic "we need a developer" posts are not effective to begin with).

As a newcomer to GNU, I don't recall visiting this page before
(In the past I have contributed few minor things to GNU coreutils and GNU awk, and have been using GNU software for a while).

When I looked through the list, my impression was:
1. Most of the older posting refer to "ghost" projects - projects that either never released code, barely committed code, announcing they are in "alpha/planning" stage and need a developer, or projects whose last CVS commit was 8/11/12 years ago (coincidentally, exactly the time of the "help wanted" post).

2. Other projects are not relevant any more.
Few examples:
"GNU DotNot" - The post is from 2006.
If one goes to the project's website to see what is going on, the first thing they see is:
"As of December 2012, the DotGNU project has been decommissioned".

"Free High School Science Texts" - The post is from 2006.
All the links on the Savannah page are broken.
Internet search leads to the official website: - which redirects to a different e-learning commercial company.

3. Some postings are for GNU projects and are relevant, but the post does not add repute to the projects:

"gnumed" - the post is from 2002, asking for help with Python/PostgreSQL.
going to the project's website redirects to a place outside,
and their code is not even hosted on Savannah anymore (but on gitorious).

"GNU Help Wanted" - has seven postings, more than any other projects.
But few of them link to accounts that were deleted. So messages read like:
"This project would be mentored by the findutils maintainers. Consult the mailing list -unavailable- for more details."


"A program to edit dance notation (such as labanotation) and display dancers moving on the screen is wanted. Gepetto does some of this work. Contact -unavailable- if you are interested in helping finish the job."

There's also a post from 2003, asking for:
"A shared memory X11 server to run under MACH is very desirable"

"GNU Hurd" - the post is from 2011, quite literally saying "we always need more developers", and redirecting to the GNU Hurd website.

4. The single posting from 2014 is closer to what I have in mind. It's details very specific need for Ruby developers to explore a specific task.
Such a post could be "teased" on other websites as "Looking for a Ruby expert who loves Gravatars" (or another phrasing of course).
But here again - if the visitor tries to go to the one obvious place - the project's homepage, he/she will get 404:


Now, I do not claim for one second that any of those developer "must" or "are obliged" to fix their post or fix their projects or change them in any way or update their homepage.
I am well aware that all are volunteers, and enjoy hacking on their own free time, and owe nothing to no one (except being Free Software).

But as a page that should give a positive image of GNU/Savannah related projects - I think it is doing a disservice by keeping these posts.

In other hosting services 'out there', there's a clear understanding that each user and each project are "on their own". One project's poor appearance does not lend to the others'.
But on Savannah there does seem to be an attempt to create symbiosis, and these kind of appearances reflect on the entire site.


In my mind, an effective method would be:
1. A project drafts a new post for a needed task, preferably specific (to the next release, to a new feature, etc.).
2. There is some minimal requirement of a post - like a proper project website, contact information, etc.
3. The new post is also promoted elsewhere (twitter, libreplanet, others).
4. The people who follow the announcement reach this list, and they are also exposed to other posts, which must be relevant.
5. out-dated posts are purged, regardless of result.

Would this cause more work for posters? yes.
But it seems few active projects actually use it, so we might as well make it effective for those who do.

- Assaf

Assaf Gordon <agn>
Site Administrator
Tue Aug 12 22:55:46 2014, comment #4:

only time for one short question now: what are these other "effective" ways that GNU packages could recruit developers?

For many years now, sv job postings are the central way we recommend package maintainers look for contributors. And I have often seen people come forward as a result -- maybe not quickly, certainly not always, but surprisingly often.


Karl Berry <karl>
Site Administrator
Tue Aug 12 18:35:55 2014, comment #3:

Hello Karl, Brandon,

If you agree, I'm going to pickup this cleanup issue.

But my stance is different:
I think clean-up / purging should be very aggressive.

Here's my rationale:
1. Broadly speaking, every free-software project could use more developers/contributors.
I could automatically post a "help wanted" for every project on GNU Savannah, detecting the project's main programming language and asking for a developer with relevant experience - and it will be valid forever.

2. Because of #1, I think that generic posts (especially old ones) are not adding any value or providing any information beyond the obvious, and as such can and should be closed.

3. If a post has been seen stale for a year - I would take it as either: there's no interest from volunteers; or that the post's wording is ineffective; or something similar.
In all cases, the post is not working, and should be closed.
It's reasonable to notify the developer who posted it, and he/she should consider posting a new message.

4. While I don't have any statistics to support this claim (I'll be glad to try gather them), it's my unsubstantiated impression that the job posting on Savannah is not the most popular/effective way to recruit developers - these days there any many more popular methods 'out there' (which, obviously, did not exist when Savannah just started).
Perhaps this could be improved, or perhaps it should be evaluated if this feature is still useful.

To conclude,
If my approach is acceptable, I'll do the following:
1. For messages older than 3 years and inactive projects (no commits in last 3 years), I'll mark the post as deleted.
2. For messages older than 3 years and active projects, I'll contact the developer and give notice before marking as "deleted".
3. Messages of 3 years or less, contact developers.

To put things in perspective, out of 129 posting:
1 is from 2014, 5 are from 2013, 2 are from 2012, 5 are from 2011.

Let me know what you think.
- Assaf.

Assaf Gordon <agn>
Site Administrator
Sun Jan 29 23:17:11 2012, comment #2:

Hi Brandon -- thanks for jumping in with this.

I completely agree with 1) and 2), but (despite what I wrote originally :) why delete old postings, any more than there is to delete old bug reports? After all, it's not unlikely that the same need will recur after a volunteer leaves a project. As long as a posting is closed, it wouldn't be normally visible, so it seems harmless.

Also, I'm not sure about "forcing" people to change the text. For example, I have two jobs open for Texinfo that are just about to hit a one-year mark. They are still open, but there is nothing to change about the text. I guess I could do some meaningless tweak just to update the date, but if a maintainer chooses not to do that, I don't think it would be right to just arbitrarily close it.

In general, if a maintainer says a job is still open, I don't think it's our place to close it, regardless of whether the text is updated.

Thus, my proposal would be less hard-line:
- if a posting is open and >1 year old, contact maintainer.
- if maintainer says it's old, fine, we or they can close.
- if maintainer says it's still valid, fine, leave it open (and strongly recommend they update the text as needed).
- if maintainer does not reply, give them a while, try again (maybe from another email account, given the realities of spam filters) and say "we will close this soon if we don't hear from you", and so that in another week or two.


thanks again,

Karl Berry <karl>
Site Administrator
Sun Jan 29 11:31:56 2012, comment #1:

I agree that it should be cleaned up.

I've rethought it and changed my opinion compared to what I wrote to savannah-hackers-public. Here is how I think it could be handled:

1) Once a posting has been open for one year, contact the poster to confirm that the position is still open
2) If the position is still open, request that they update the post. If the position is closed, set the post status to "closed"
3) Once a post has been closed for one year, remove it

The initial clean-up should be handled a bit more leniently, though. For example, people would be requested to update posts between, say, one and three years old. After the requests go out and a reasonable amount of time passes to allow action by the posters, any closed or non-updated Help Wanted ad would be removed.

From the user's perspective, this would, first of all, keep the Help Wanted section fresh and cleaner for browsing. However, by keeping some closed positions around for a while, the user has an idea of other recently active projects that would still probably like some help. I think, though, that in any active project, a lot changes over the course of a year, so after a few years, a posting becomes essentially irrelevant without some sort of update from the project managers. That's why I would take a pretty hard-line view about removing old ones.

By the way, if it's possible with Savane, it might be nice to add a "Status" column to the Help Wanted listing page.

Brandon Invergo <brandon>
Site Administrator
 Spam posted by an anonymous
Sat Dec 13 00:40:23 2008, original submission:

[a user made this suggestion to me.]

looking at the developer jobs list (, there are jobs going back to 2001.

perhaps it would be useful to send a reminder to people whose jobs have gone N years without change, and ask them to update it -- a posting would seem more likely to actually find people if it is periodically updated. (Even if there are no actual changes to the job description, trivial changes could be made to bump the date.)

perhaps we should even go so far as to delete jobs that have gone, say, 2*N years without change. i'm even less sure about this, though.

maybe N = 2.

just an idea.

Karl Berry <karl>
Site Administrator


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