Thanks for everybody's input on my previous post.
In addition to the comments, I received another very interesting data point from an email with Tom Hughes, the IO::Zlib maintainer (currently holding #1 on the FAIL 100 list).
> It's showing up on my graph-weighted FAIL tracker as the number one
> source of problems at the moment.
Well if nobody tells me about these things I can't possibly do anything about them...
This email response is great, because it demonstrates an important factor in maintainership.
The people that don't talk to you are just as important as those that do.
It's very common in Open Source technical flame wars to see comments like the following.
"How can we possibly be expected to support people that never talk to us"
And it's true, you certainly can't provide a truly personal level of support, and fix the bugs that are specific to them.
But when it comes to specific design decisions where you need to choose one way or the other, it's still extremely important to weight the benefits and costs to your entire user base equally, especially the people that are too busy, too low-skilled or just too shy to speak for themselves.
People that respond are going to be skewed to the people with the highest level of interest, and decisions on the level of control and freedom you allow for those people needs to be treated orthogonally to decisions you make on the DEFAULT behaviours that people without enough time or knowledge to contribute will have forced on them.
So in light of the mixed responses from the comments, and the note from Tom, I'm planning on going with the following email rules.
1. Only the owners of the top 10 FAIL modules will ever be emailed.
2. Initially, I'll be emailing weekly. That might be too often, we'll see.
3. I shall attempt to track your position in the Top 10 and ONLY send a new mail if your position on the list increases. I'm not sure how useful this will be in practice, but we'll see how it goes.
4. I'll look into sucking in the email preferences from CPAN Testers, so if you have set emails to be ignored there, you'll also be ignored here.
5. If you make it all the way to #1, I'm going to ignore your preferences and email you anyway (once of course, since you can't get a position any higher).
I'll kick this off in a few weeks, and we'll see how it goes.