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Re: Announcing the elephant in the room BOF

>>>>> "Steve" == Steve McIntyre <steve@einval.com> writes:

    >> My position when talking to the organizers and DC committee is
    >> that if we were going to have the discussion it should be widely
    >> announced.
    >> There are several things that contributed to that decision.
    >> 1) The reasoning behind Social Contract #3 while not directly
    >> applicable influenced my thinking.  We don't hide problems.
    >> 2) Debian is a generally open community.  Part of that is making
    >> sure that people on all sides of the discussion are aware of the
    >> discussion.  It makes it easier for those of us who have to think
    >> about project opinion and consensus if discussions actually have
    >> all their stakeholders present.  Especially if a discussion is
    >> organized at the last minute, it is more important to announce it
    >> more widely.

    Steve> I'm curious - who exactly were the stakeholders here? I've
    Steve> heard rumours about a "Boycott Debian" group, and found their
    Steve> website where nobody claims to be a member.

I think that needs to be a question for Nicolas Dandrimont and the DC
I got grabbed by I think Stefano Rivera and pulled into a discussion to
schedule this BOF.
I didn't know all the people in that meeting very well and the arguments
about whether the discussion needed to happen seem to have mostly
already taken place.
At some level, the adhoc session scheduling criteria are intentionally
fairly loose, and so it seemed like people were going to get a room.

At one point I asked one of the advocates whether regardless of what we
did, were they going to get together and discuss Saturday.  The answer I
got was yes.  So, the question in my mind was whether we were going to
have a more useful discussion with a widely announced session or a
potentially small group of people.

    Steve> Were we just
    Steve> trying to appease this anonymous set of people for some
    Steve> reason?

I know I've run across a number of not quite open things going on since
the decision was announced.
People who felt like the discussion on debconf-discuss was prematurely
shut down.
People trying to advocate for various things to make it harder for us to
have a successful debconf.
A lot of people privately saying that they wouldn't go.

I didn't really get a feel for how big this all is.

And I think that's important to know.
I'd rather us understand how people feel now than be surprised much
closer to the event.
I especially do not want to be surprised by people discovering they
think they have enough support that it is worth it to them to call a GR
close into the event.

So, honestly, for me, discovering whether this is a small number of
people who are going to be anonymous or whether it is a large number of
members of our community is in and of itself valuable.  The little hints
I had been seeing had reached the level of unknown concern for me, and
so I valued quantifying that concern.

    Steve> From being present in the room for the discussion, I'd say
    Steve> that we had a reasonable, tolerant, respectful discussion
    Steve> around DC20. But I'd be hard-pressed to say that we actually
    Steve> achieved anything with it.

I think we explored the question of whether there are any significant
unknowns and gave people who felt they were not heard a desir to speak.
I think that's quite valuable.
I think those of us in the room got a much better sense of the balance
of at least that room.
For me that was valuable.

    Steve> Instead, I'm concerned that by
    Steve> shoe-horning this session in at such short notice we maybe
    Steve> just gave oxygen to a toxic argument. I've spoken to multiple
    Steve> people (some present, some not) who share those worries. :-(

I think that if the session had been smaller and if people who held
strong views had controlled the publicity, the chances that we would
have given oxygen to an argument that didn't have wide support would be
much greater.

    >> Also, I honestly do believe this discussion needs to happen.  I
    >> think that we ended up shutting this down a bit too prematurely
    >> after the decision was announce.  I think people have not been
    >> fully heard on this issue, and I think that is harmful for our
    >> community overall.

    Steve> So where does it go from here?

    Steve> Lots of project members were not in the small session that we
    Steve> held. I'm not necessarily convinced that all arguments always
    Steve> need to be heard, but even if we concede that point I don't
    Steve> think we achieved that either.

Well, first, I think we heard that people would like the opportunity to
explore better remote participation at DC20.
Obviously that needs to be confirmed in a broader community.
But I think there was enough support in the room for that idea that we
can encourage discussion of whether that's valuable and how to
accomplish it.

We also received support for the idea that we need to be careful not to
undermine Debconf with other events.  While it's not surprising, I think
that is valuable feedback.

I think we also made it clear that we are willing to listen to
reasonable, tolerant, respectful discussions around this issue.  At this
point we've shown people that they can be heard if they choose to and
that it is possible to have this discussion within our standards.

Sometimes you have a discussion and you find that it supports
approximately what you were already doing.
That's not a bad outcome.


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