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[Debconf-team] help clear up Debians reputation; Debconf misdeeds

At the request of Joerg Jaspert, a member of the debconf sponsorship
team, I am posting this message.

Shadows of accusation have surrounded Debconf6, and they affect Debians
reputation directly. To clear this up, I am going to ask some questions.
Members of the sponsorship team chose not to answer these questions on
IRC, but indicated they would answer them on the mailing list.

Debconf has been given more than $100,000 USD this year by various
sponsors, to pay for the venue and free food and accomodations for
everyone.  This is great.  So far it has been nice.  The remaining money
has been handed out to pay for peoples travel expenses.  But there isn't
enough to pay for everyone.  So only some people could get free travel.
It is in the choosing of who gets free travel, that the accusations have

From the announcement on debian-devel-announce, I, and others had the
impression that Debconf is a Debian function, subject to the rules and
principles governing Debian.

Debian presents itself to the public as being open, transparent, fair,
and just.  Debconf this year has acted in ways that seem to go directly
against those principles.

First:  Is Debconf an official Debian project?

Second:  If it is not, are the sponsors of Debconf aware that it is a
private project, not subject to oversight of its conduct by the Debian
project as a whole?

Debconf has offered to sponsor various people to attend, including
paying for their airplane tickets.  From the original announcement by
Andreas Schuldei, the sponsorship would be offered based on a
"consensus" by the sponsorship team.

1.  Who is on the sponsorship team?

2.  Why are some developers and maintainers being rejected for

3.  How many developers and maintainers have been rejected for

4.  Why isn't this information made public?

5.  Why isn't the sponsorship of airplane flights handed out on a
first-come first-served basis? (FIFO queue)

6.  How do you plan to assure us you didn't give priority to your
friends, and leave others out in the cold?

7.  People were prioritized by consensus, and given a queue number,
unrelated to how early they signed up.  As new money comes in, people in
the queue are being given tickets.  However, at least one member of
Debian says she was rejected outright and not given a queue number, so
she wouldn't get a ticket even if more sponsorship money became
available.  Why was this?  Doesn't every Debian member have a right to
attend, if there is enough money?

7.  Was anyone given airplane sponsorship who is neither a developer or
a package maintainer?  If they were, why did they take priority over
developers and maintainers?

8.  Why were there various deadlines to apply, with provisions for
selective extensions, instead of giving out sponsorships until the money
runs out?  If you need the deadlines so you can schedule things ahead of
time, why not recognize that with a FIFO queue, you wouldn't need
deadlines because people would rush to be early?

Another issue is the planning of talks.  There is a voting page
presented where we can select those talks we wish to attend.  However,
we are only allowed to vote on a subset of the talks people offered to
give.  Several very good talks didn't make it to the list.

1.  Why aren't conference attendees allowed to vote on all the talks
that were offered?

2.  Several very good talks were rejected; how do you plan to assure us
that there was no favoritism in the selection of talks?  I particularly
wanted a chance to vote for the following:

   * The Debian GNU/kFreeBSD port, by Aurelien Jarno
   * Writing a simple Z-Shell completion function, by Clint Adams.
   * An introduction to Devotee and Condorcet voting, by Manoj Srivastava
   * Packages using the autotools: creating, fixing and maintaining them, by Sam Hocevar
   * Debtags one year later, by Enrico Zini
   * Selling Debian by the Pound, by Martin-Eric Racine
   * Embedded Debian, by Wookey

Mark Shuttleworth's talk on Ubuntu was going to be on this list, but
after its initial rejection, it suddenly got accepted, which I am happy
about.  But how fair is that to the others who submitted talks, which
were then rejected by the organizers without giving the attendees a
chance to vote?

3.  From the website it is not clear what is happening with the Birds of
a Feather sessions; they are neither accepted or rejected.  What is the
situation with them?  How do they work?

I know you are all busy, but from where I stand, it seems there is a lot
of potential for nepotism and favoritism in the Debconf sponsorship
process of handing out free transportation.

Please come out in public and show us the rumors aren't true.


I was not rejected for sponsorship.  I never applied for sponsorship.  I
was contacted by a contributing, useful Debian member who told me about
her sponsorship being rejected.

Debian Ombudsman

It's not true unless it makes you laugh, but you don't understand it until it makes you weep.

Eukleia: Ted Walther
Address: 5690 Pioneer Ave, Burnaby, BC  V5H2X6 (Canada)
Contact: 604-430-4973

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