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Perl 5 version 12.1 documentation
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perlpolicy - Various and sundry policies and commitments related to the perl core


This document is the master document which records all written policies about how the Perl 5 Porters collectively develop and maintain the Perl core.


  • New releases of maint should contain as few changes as possible. If there is any question about whether a given patch might merit inclusion in a maint release, then it almost certainly should not be included.

  • Portability fixes, such as changes to Configure and the files in hints/ are acceptable. Ports of Perl to a new platform, architecture or OS release that involve changes to the implementation are NOT acceptable.

  • Documentation updates are acceptable.

  • Patches that add new warnings or errors or deprecate features are not acceptable.

  • Patches that fix crashing bugs that do not otherwise change Perl's functionality or negatively impact performance are acceptable.

  • Patches that fix CVEs or security issues are acceptable, but should be run through the mailing list rather than applied directly.

  • Updates to dual-life modules should consist of minimal patches to fix crashing or security issues (as above).

  • New versions of dual-life modules should NOT be imported into maint. Those belong in the next stable series.

  • Patches that add or remove features are not acceptable.

  • Patches that break binary compatibility are not acceptable. (Please talk to a pumpking.)

Getting changes into a maint branch

Historically, only the pumpking cherry-picked changes from bleadperl into maintperl. This has...scaling problems. At the same time, maintenance branches of stable versions of Perl need to be treated with great care. To that end, we're going to try out a new process for maint-5.12.

Any committer may cherry-pick any commit from blead to maint-5.12 if they send mail to perl5-porters announcing their intent to cherry-pick a specific commit along with a rationale for doing so and at least two other committers respond to the list giving their assent. (This policy applies to current and former pumpkings, as well as other committers.)


A Social Contract about Artistic Control

What follows is a statement about artistic control, defined as the ability of authors of packages to guide the future of their code and maintain control over their work. It is a recognition that authors should have control over their work, and that it is a responsibility of the rest of the Perl community to ensure that they retain this control. It is an attempt to document the standards to which we, as Perl developers, intend to hold ourselves. It is an attempt to write down rough guidelines about the respect we owe each other as Perl developers.

This statement is not a legal contract. This statement is not a legal document in any way, shape, or form. Perl is distributed under the GNU Public License and under the Artistic License; those are the precise legal terms. This statement isn't about the law or licenses. It's about community, mutual respect, trust, and good-faith cooperation.

We recognize that the Perl core, defined as the software distributed with the heart of Perl itself, is a joint project on the part of all of us. From time to time, a script, module, or set of modules (hereafter referred to simply as a "module") will prove so widely useful and/or so integral to the correct functioning of Perl itself that it should be distributed with Perl core. This should never be done without the author's explicit consent, and a clear recognition on all parts that this means the module is being distributed under the same terms as Perl itself. A module author should realize that inclusion of a module into the Perl core will necessarily mean some loss of control over it, since changes may occasionally have to be made on short notice or for consistency with the rest of Perl.

Once a module has been included in the Perl core, however, everyone involved in maintaining Perl should be aware that the module is still the property of the original author unless the original author explicitly gives up their ownership of it. In particular:

  • The version of the module in the core should still be considered the work of the original author. All patches, bug reports, and so forth should be fed back to them. Their development directions should be respected whenever possible.

  • Patches may be applied by the pumpkin holder without the explicit cooperation of the module author if and only if they are very minor, time-critical in some fashion (such as urgent security fixes), or if the module author cannot be reached. Those patches must still be given back to the author when possible, and if the author decides on an alternate fix in their version, that fix should be strongly preferred unless there is a serious problem with it. Any changes not endorsed by the author should be marked as such, and the contributor of the change acknowledged.

  • The version of the module distributed with Perl should, whenever possible, be the latest version of the module as distributed by the author (the latest non-beta version in the case of public Perl releases), although the pumpkin holder may hold off on upgrading the version of the module distributed with Perl to the latest version until the latest version has had sufficient testing.

In other words, the author of a module should be considered to have final say on modifications to their module whenever possible (bearing in mind that it's expected that everyone involved will work together and arrive at reasonable compromises when there are disagreements).

As a last resort, however:

If the author's vision of the future of their module is sufficiently different from the vision of the pumpkin holder and perl5-porters as a whole so as to cause serious problems for Perl, the pumpkin holder may choose to formally fork the version of the module in the core from the one maintained by the author. This should not be done lightly and should always if at all possible be done only after direct input from Larry. If this is done, it must then be made explicit in the module as distributed with Perl core that it is a forked version and that while it is based on the original author's work, it is no longer maintained by them. This must be noted in both the documentation and in the comments in the source of the module.

Again, this should be a last resort only. Ideally, this should never happen, and every possible effort at cooperation and compromise should be made before doing this. If it does prove necessary to fork a module for the overall health of Perl, proper credit must be given to the original author in perpetuity and the decision should be constantly re-evaluated to see if a remerging of the two branches is possible down the road.

In all dealings with contributed modules, everyone maintaining Perl should keep in mind that the code belongs to the original author, that they may not be on perl5-porters at any given time, and that a patch is not official unless it has been integrated into the author's copy of the module. To aid with this, and with points #1, #2, and #3 above, contact information for the authors of all contributed modules should be kept with the Perl distribution.

Finally, the Perl community as a whole recognizes that respect for ownership of code, respect for artistic control, proper credit, and active effort to prevent unintentional code skew or communication gaps is vital to the health of the community and Perl itself. Members of a community should not normally have to resort to rules and laws to deal with each other, and this document, although it contains rules so as to be clear, is about an attitude and general approach. The first step in any dispute should be open communication, respect for opposing views, and an attempt at a compromise. In nearly every circumstance nothing more will be necessary, and certainly no more drastic measure should be used until every avenue of communication and discussion has failed.


Social Contract about Contributed Modules originally by Russ Allbery <> and the perl5-porters.