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Date: Sun, 1 Nov 2020 20:30:50 -0500
From: Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: Authorship/attribution and stalled patches

On Sun, Nov 01, 2020 at 08:16:32PM -0500, Rich Felker wrote:
> It came to my attention that there are a few patches in limbo where,
> after some discussion, it seems I was waiting for an updated patch
> from the contributor to apply, and it never appeared. I could and
> should just make the changes myself (this would have been more
> efficient to begin with), but I'm not sure what to do about
> authorship/attribution in that situation, and it probably deserves
> community input.
> A while back, I started trying to make better use of git commit
> authorship to credit contributors, rather than just mentioning "patch
> by X" or "based on patch/idea by X" in commit messages. However I
> still don't have a clear feel for how this should work in the case
> where the patch is modified before being applied. Are there
> established norms for the degree to which a patch should be modified
> while leaving the author intact, or should it just always be converted
> to commit authorship by the person who makes the final changes, with
> original author in the description? It's really a tradeoff between
> potential misattribution of mistakes or changes the original author
> might not like, and failure to credit, and I don't know where the
> right balance is.

A further special case of this is where the content of the diff is
fine, but the commit message needs significant rewording to be
acceptable (e.g. the original only explains a what rather than a why,
or includes a why that's not the actual reason the patch is needed).

For other cases mentioned in the quoted text above, the
Co-authored-by: pseudo-header popularized by Github seems to be a
reasonable solution. But I don't feel it's appropriate to relegate
someone to a "co-author" when the entire diff (or even 99% of it) is
by them and it's just the commit message that was rewritten. (Ideally,
git's data model would have separate authorship for commit message and
diff, and I don't think existing committer field in the model is
interpreted that way.)


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