The Apache Software Foundation

Community > Code

The most important thing about engaging with any Apache project is that everyone is equal. All project participants with an opinion can express that opinion and, where appropriate, have the community consider it.

To some, the idea of having to establish consensus in a large and distributed team sounds inefficient and frustrating. Don’t despair, though: The Apache Way has a set of simple processes to ensure things proceed at a good pace.

In ASF projects we don’t like to vote. We reserve that for the few things that need official approval for legal or process reasons (e.g. approving a release or adding a new committer). Most of the time we work with the consensus-building techniques documented below.

Lazy Consensus

Lazy consensus is the first, and possibly the most important, consensus-building tool we have. Essentially lazy consensus means that you don’t need to get explicit approval to proceed, but you need to be prepared to listen if someone objects.

Consensus Building

Sometimes lazy consensus is not appropriate. In such cases it is necessary to make a proposal to the email list and discuss options. There are mechanisms for quickly showing your support or otherwise for a proposal and building consensus within the community.

Once there is consensus to approve a proposal, people can proceed with the work under the lazy consensus model.


Occasionally a “feel” for consensus is not enough. Sometimes we need to have a measurable consensus, for example, when voting to add committers or to approve a release.