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Re: Let's Stop Getting Torn Apart by Disagreement: Concerns about the Technical Committee

Le samedi, 4 novembre 2017, 01.39:31 h CET Scott Kitterman a écrit :
> On November 3, 2017 9:09:31 PM EDT, Sam Hartman <hartmans@debian.org> wrote:
> > I think that Debian does need a decision making body of last resort.
> > I personally think these communication skills are critical for such a
> > body.
> One critical thing I think the TC misses is to consider if it's time to
> invoke last resort processes or not.  My impression is that if someone
> brings an issue to the TC, there's an assumption that the TC has to deal
> with it.

That's currently quite true; unfortunately. I do think the TC has the moral 
obligation to properly _acknowledge_ all requests filed before it, it should 
really do a better "initial conditions" check.

> The last time I was involved with an issue brought to the TC, it had been
> brought after zero discussion between the person filing the bug and the
> relevant team.  Complaining to the TC about a bug that's been dormant for
> years only a few days after resurrecting discussion about it (AIUI) seems
> similarly aggressive.

Absolutely. During the TC's last IRC meeting [0], we have identified the need 
of a bug-handling checklist, which could do a lot of good there. With such 
(lightweight) formalism in place, the TC would force itself to react to issues 
by first checking if they fulfill some preliminary conditions. Off the top of 
my (tired) head:
* have the maintainers had enough time to interact with the complainant?
* have  efforts to resolve the issue via consensus been tried and failed?
* is the disagreement sufficiently well described?
* etc.

Also, it seems the TC is bound to be focused in the technical problems, and 
how to address these [1], that's just a natural consequence of its name and 
its composition mechanism. Instead of directly addressing the issue, I tend to 
think the TC could instead often start by addressing the "meta" around the 
issue: where, and how is the problem described ? was it debated, and by which 
stakeholders? is the complainant "jumping the gun" or has the discussion 
really reached a point where a formal involvment of the TC makes sense? etc.

> Diving into issues in these kinds of circumstances turns the TC into nothing
> more than a stick to beat other developers with.  I think we need something
> like the TC, but I also think part of being the decider of last resort is
> sticking to the last resort part.

I agree; to some extent. Indeed, for any use of the constitutional powers of 
the TC, it shall really make sure all reasonable venues have been tried and 
failed, as a prerequisite to discussing the technical issue. But there's a 
wide range of issues where it makes sense for TC _members_ to go out and help 
the discussion. We also want people to feel comfortable coming to the TC for 
advice. The fact that the TC uses public bugs also puts some discussions under 
different lights: it's different to have TC members participate in a 
discussion (with or without hats) than have the same conversation on a tech-
ctte bug; a TC bug is (or at least, was) quite likely to end up with a formal 
decision, even if just for closure. The mere prospect of a potential 
maintainer override ad the end of the line is certainly quite offputting; a 
side of the conversation has a finger on the trigger. That leads me to think 
the TC could sometimes close the TC issues (or reassign them) earlier, without 
necessarily stopping the conversation.

> P.S. Having been through a couple of TC issues that involved packages or
> teams relevant to me, I totally get orphaning a package.  I don't know what
> fraction of packages I maintain I care enough about to deal with a TC
> complaint over them, but I'm pretty sure it's way less than half.

That's a quite saddening statement. Could you share (eventually in private) 
for which reasons? In what way could the TC evolve to make you feel 
comfortable having a conversation with it about one of your packages?

With my best regards,

[0] http://meetbot.debian.net/debian-ctte/2017/debian-ctte.
[1] For example, see the start of https://bugs.debian.org/877024
    (sorry Keith :-) )

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