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testing committee email (and minor essay)

I'm sending this message as a test message, because my MDA has been
changed, and I want to make sure I still get committee email.

I'd like to also take this opportunity to make a few observations about
the committee:

The committee has never been popular.  People have objected to its
actions, its inactions, its existence, and its members.  Currently,
there seems to be a number of people calling for new committee members.

Despite this (or perhaps because of this) there has been a singular lack
of people saying anything resembling: "I'd like to join the technical
committee.  Here's why I think I'd do a particularly good job ___...
Would anyone like to step down and let me take their place, or could
the active members allow me to replace someone inactive?"

I'm not saying that we'd be easy to convince, or anything of that nature.

But if people are seriously thinking about volunteering to be on the
committee, maybe it would help to know what we would consider important
in a new member.  I think these include:

* A solid understanding of the committee's role in Debian.  For example,
while I don't think the committee itself should take an activist role,
I think that the committee members can and should take activist roles in
some areas.  But this needs to be handled with some delicacy (threatening
behavior is right out).  In particular, offering advice which leads
to decisions which avoid problems boiling up to the point where the
committee needs to intervene is a good thing.

* A broad technical background, and a good problem-solving approach to
technical issues.  Our toughest issues have to do with release of new
versions of Debian.  That's where poor technical decisions tend to show
up.  And, usually, they show up long after they should have been fixed.
Fixing those problems without breaking the system for many users is a very
different sort of exercise than the usual release-oriented bug squashing.
Hopefully, if someone has these sorts of skills, they'll be able to talk
about these issues in a reasonable fashion.

* A thick skin, and some capability to deal with tense situations in
a helpful manner.  The technical committee isn't a popular place to
be, and all to often conflicts need to be resolved in a fashion which
displease someone.  Fortunately, these are "just conflicts about technical
issues", so you can take some satisfaction from solving problems well.
But even their our scope is extremely limited -- ultimately, it's the
authors of the software who make most of the technical decisions, and
it's the package maintainers who make most of the rest of these decisions.

... end of test message.


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