Andrew Nacin, lead developer of WordPress, wrote an interesting post about how they decide to give commit access:
A committer is a contributor with the ability to modify the main WordPress repository. If you’re used to a decentralized model, this would be those with push/write access. There have been around three dozen committers to WordPress over the last decade; almost twenty currently have access. But in 2009, there were just five.
I’ve always been proud to count myself as one of the people on that list. I still remember the incredible rush I felt when Ryan Boren pulled me aside in IRC and set me up with it. Unfortunately, my reign came to an end a few months later, but I still learned a lot from the experience. It continues to amaze me that I had direct access to the source code of such an important project, and I was only 14 at the time.
When I posted that I wasn’t going to be working on WordPress anymore, I never gave a reason or an explanation for why I left. Perhaps I felt bitter about the way they made the decision to revoke my access, but I didn’t want to air my dirty laundry. I’m glad I made that decision at the time.
The fact of the matter is that I was 14 years old at the time. I thought I knew everything, that my way was the best way, and that I didn’t have much more to learn. In the 8 years and counting since then, I’ve thought a lot about the experience. It has taken years of maturing and just growing up to realize this.
I used to argue with Matt about topics like converting WordPress to PHP 5 and write cheeky posts trying to call him out. I never thought to consider I may have been wrong. I wrote patches and pushed code into the trunk that I didn’t test or run by anyone else. I used to be a terrible developer, because I thought I was 14 and invincible.
I left for a summer in Italy in June of 2007. While I was there, I ended up using my host family’s computer and the urge to work on WordPress struck. I tried committing a patch to the repository, but I kept getting an error denying me access. I went onto IRC and tried to find out what was going on.
Ryan pulled me aside in a private message and let me know that Matt had decided to revoke my access. No one told me, though they were supposed to, and I found out this way in a country across the world. I took the hit, felt back stabbed, and declared my departure from WordPress.
In the following time, I harbored a secret grudge against Matt. This incident had taken the wind from my sails, and I ended up giving programming up for the most part. I blamed Matt for this, but after a few years I realized I only had myself to blame. I let myself give a passion up because I was too prideful to continue after what had happened. At the time, I even said that the decision “been floating around in my mind for a long time.”
I still don’t like the way they treated me in the end, but I’ve come to understand why I lost commit access. I wish I had only been a few years older for this experience, and I’m certain things would have worked out differently.
I’ve thought about writing this post many times in the past 8 years, and I always decided against it. Reading Andrew Nacin’s post about commit access brought back memories, and I finally felt ready to compose my thoughts about what happened so long ago. You live, make mistakes, and through reflection learn how to build a better future.