If there is one major downside to the custom development community, it's that the sheer volume of minor variations in custom ROMs and largely-borrowed development makes it difficult, if not impossible to find real, quality development. XDA aims to change this by creating Original Development forums. These special forums will be reserved for projects that adhere to a set of rules, not the least of which is being largely original work.
Other criteria for the Original Development forums, from XDA:
- Official releases of highly original and upstream custom ROMs (built from the ground up with significant original development within them
- Official releases/development of such original ROMs, perhaps posted by the maintainer or their nominated person.
- A significant “first” in development for a device. Significant is subjective, but it is likely something which took considerable time/effort, and is generally accepted by developers to be significant and non-trivial.
- Kernels which are built with beneficial changes that are not simply pulled from other kernels already available. Some element of original work is expected.
- Tools and utilities with a clear purpose, and which are well-made, and useful to users. They should have an element of originality, either in purpose or through significant improvement in the means of operation.
- Significant port of a ROM from one device to another, giving enhanced features or functionality to users of the target device. The port should be beneficial (a port from two virtually identical devices isn’t original development, it’s winzipping, and nobody really benefits from this, as it’s not development)
The separation aims to remove much of the clutter that comes from "developers" taking already custom ROMs, tweaking a couple of things or adding a custom icon pack and repackaging it. Serious development will now have its own tier, free of a lot of clutter. As David has pointed out in the past, this clutter can make it very difficult to find good ROMs.
For more info on what is and is not allowed in the new forums, head over to XDA's post on the subject. Hopefully this will make the community more accessible to newcomers who want to explore what their phones can do without extra confusion.