We have been entertained with a number of posts to the planet over the last while. It is a opportunity to think critically about what is great at Eclipse, and what details we can improve upon. Keep them coming.
I completely agree with the opinion that we need to find a way to increase the diversity on our projects and get more individuals working towards our greater goals. We saw many presentations at EclipseCon by some big companies making significant investments on software based on the Eclipse platform.
Yet a number of them do not "contribute" anything back to Eclipse.
Eclipse committers are measured exclusively by their code contributions. We have a great system in the dash project where commits are measured. If you have not committed any code into CVS in the last nine months you get the boot. Perhaps not literally, but some projects tend to run that way.
If I want to add a committer, we are pretty much limited to gathering a list of Bugzilla patches demonstrating their contributions of code to the project.
And that is where I think we can make some improvements. Committers do many more things than just write code. They test, they document, the manage builds, they answer newsgroup questions, they present at conferences, they track Bugzillas and so on and so on.
I imagine a contributor at a big company who consumes an Eclipse project. There are individuals who do many odd jobs to make sure the Eclipse project is healthy for use in their application. These are the resources we need to attract.
I especially like the ideas on Stack Overflow and their system of badges and reputation. I can see this working at Eclipse. Raise a Bugzilla? Answer a newsgroup question? Test an integration build on a specific platform? All this contributes to your project reputation.
Once you reputation is high enough, you are a committer. Code contributions need not be necessary, you are contributing to the overall health and well being of the project. You have demonstrated your dedication to the community.
As the non-code relationship is nurtured, perhaps these companies will feel inclined to eventually donate back some of their extensions and fixes in their fork back to the community at Eclipse.