To improve tracking of who did what, especially with patches that can percolate to their final resting place in the distribution through several layers of maintainers, we have introduced a "sign-off" procedure on patches that are being emailed around.
The sign-off is a simple line at the end of the explanation for the patch, which certifies that you write it or otherwise have the right to pass it on as an Open Source patch.
The rules are pretty simple: If you comply and agree with the IPFire Project Contributor Agreement, then you just add a line saying:
Signed-off-by: Random Developer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
using your real name. No pseudonyms or anonymous contributions.
The Signed-off-by: tag indicates that the signer was involved in the development of the patch, or that he/she was in the patch's delivery path.
If a person was not directly involved in the preparation or handling of a patch but wishes to signify and record their approval of it then they can ask to have an Acked-by: line added to the patch's changelog.
Acked-by: is often used by the maintainer of the affected code when that maintainer neither contributed to nor forwarded the patch.
Acked-by: is not as formal as Signed-off-by: It is a record that the acker has at least reviewed the patch and has indicated acceptance. Hence patch mergers will sometimes manually convert an acker's "yep, looks good to me" into an Acked-by: (but note that it is usually better to ask for an explicit ack).
Acked-by: does not necessarily indicate acknowledgement of the entire patch. For example, if a patch affects multiple subsystems and has an Acked-by: from one subsystem maintainer then this usually indicates acknowledgement of just the part which affects that maintainer's code. Judgement should be used here. When in doubt people should refer to the original discussion in the mailing list archives.
If a person has had the opportunity to comment on a patch, but has not provided such comments, you may optionally add a Cc: tag to the patch. This is the only tag which might be added without an explicit action by the person it names - but it should indicate that this person was copied on the patch. This tag documents that potentially interested parties have been included in the discussion.
The Reported-by: tag gives credit to people who find bugs and report them and it hopefully inspires them ti help us again in the future. Please note that if the bug was reported in private, then ask for permission first before using the Reported-by: tag.
A Tested-by: tag indicates that the patch has been successfully tested (in some environment) by the person named. This tag informs maintainers that some testing has been performed, provides a means to locate testers for future patches, and ensures credit for the testers.
Reviewed-by:, instead, indicates that the patch has been reviewed and found acceptable according to the Reviewer's Statement:
Reviewer's statement of oversight By offering my Reviewed-by: tag, I state that: (a) I have carried out a technical review of this patch to evaluate its appropriateness and readiness for inclusion into the IPFire distribution. (b) Any problems, concerns, or questions relating to the patch have been communicated back to the submitter. I am satisfied with the submitter's response to my comments. (c) While there may be things that could be improved with this submission, I believe that it is, at this time, (1) a worthwhile modification to the distribution, and (2) free of known issues which would argue against its inclusion. (d) While I have reviewed the patch and believe it to be sound, I do not (unless explicitly stated elsewhere) make any warranties or guarantees that it will achieve its stated purpose or function properly in any given situation.
A Reviewed-by: tag is a statement of opinion that the patch is an appropriate modification without any remaining serious technical issues. Any interested reviewer (who has done the work) can offer a Reviewed-by: tag for a patch. This tag serves to give credit to reviewers and to inform maintainers of the degree of reviwe which has been done on the patch. Reviewed-by: tags, when supplied by reviewers known to understand the subject area and to perform thorough reviews, will normally increase the likelihood of your patch getting into the distribution.
A Suggested-by: tag indicates that the patch idea is suggested by the person named and ensures credit to the person for the idea. Please note that this tag should not be added without the reporter's permission, especially if the idea was not posted in a public forum. That said, if we diligently credit our idea reporters, they will, hopefully, be inspired to help us again in the future.
A Fixes: tag indicates that the patch fixes an issue in a previous commit. It is used to make it easy to determine where a bug originated, which can help review a bug fix. This is also the preferred method for indicating a bug fixed by the patch.