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Re: Thinking about Delegating Decisions about Policy

Sam Hartman writes ("Thinking about Delegating Decisions about Policy"):
> Why the TC?
> A couple of reasons.

I'm going to go off on a rant about the TC now.  I've been told that
this mail sounds like sour grapes but I think it's important.

I think it would be a bad idea to use the TC to push forward technical
change.  I think the TC as an institution[1][2] lacks:

1. wide enough political legitimacy

2. enough sensitivity to the concerns of those other than
    the maintainers or teams whose decisions are being impugned

3. even, sadly, enough of a grip on detailed technical matters

4. structured communication and decisionmaking processes, which would
    IMO be needed to: systematically capture the facts, and the
    implications of the options; help the "losers" feel heard, and
    feel that the decision was properly made; deliver clear
    conclusions, but compassionately.

I also think that the TC is far less conservative than it ought to be
and is much more willing to risk damaging (or is blind to the risk of
damaging) the project's social cohesion, in the name of what is called
technical progress but often seems to me to be a narrowing of the
project's focus.

Rather than see the TC's role enhanced, I would like to abolish it and
replace it with something completely different.

Right now it is almost useless as a tool to overturn bad decisions by
maintainers: the costs of invoking it are far too high.  This is
partly because it always implies a public flamewar[1] and partly
because the TC itself generally seems to strongly prioritise the
emotional comfort of maintainers, and the notion of "progress"; it
disregards the emotional comfort of people who want their existing
stuff to keep working, and the autonomy of a package's users.

As a tool to make project-wide decisions on the desirability of a
mandating certain kind of progress, it lacks legitimacy amongst
significant proportions of the community, because of the way it made
decisions in the past and also to an extent because of the content of
those decisions.


[1] I should say that I think the individual members of TC are and
have been people of generally very high caliber.  IMO the failings are
emergent properties of the structure, context and framing.

[2] Much of this is, I think, ultimately my fault.  I invented this
setup.  All I can say is that I was young and naive.

Ian Jackson <ijackson@chiark.greenend.org.uk>   These opinions are my own.

If I emailed you from an address @fyvzl.net or @evade.org.uk, that is
a private address which bypasses my fierce spamfilter.

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