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My platform for Project Leader elections

I'm cross-posting this more widely than is usual, because people have
been waiting for it, and it's the only such statement I plan to make.
Please send replies to debian-vote (or privately, of course).

This platform is late, but I figure it's better late than never.
I've given an explanation of my recent absence on debian-private.


I've given a lot of thought to this.  What is the role of the project
leader, and how should I fill it if I am elected?  A lot of the
obvious answers didn't fit.  There are many things I would do as
project leader, but most of them I would do anyway.  Nothing stops any
developer from promoting various favourite projects, or from doing
just about anything else that a project leader might do.

I think the difference is precisely that the project leader is
appointed to speak for the project.  The primary task of the project
leader is to be the voice of the project.

Internally, this means that the leader can say "let's do it" when a
good idea seems to be stalled, or "this is going very wrong" when
something is going very wrong.  Stating such things openly will focus
the attention of the project on an issue, and make it easier to accept

Externally, the leader gives the project a face.  That way, people
outside the project can interact with a single person, rather than
facing a multitude of voices :-)  The leader can make commitments
on behalf on the project (though not binding ones), and can do the
work of gathering a single, clear statement of opinion.  I think that
what happened with the KDE statement was a good example of this.

I don't think PR is the leader's job, as such.  Any developer can do
it, and we currently have some developers who are doing a very good
job of it.  Matters of public relations probably need official
approval more often than others, though, and the leader should be
aware of that.


I have no specific plans.  I don't see the project as something that
can be steered or directed.  It's more like the Juggernaut: big,
strong, slow to get started, and very hard to stop once it gets going.
It can be aimed a bit, though, by clearing a path in the appropriate
direction.  And it can be accelerated by removing obstacles and
stumbling blocks.

I think the appropriate direction is what it has always been:
to create a high-quality operating system that is entirely free.
That is the key to all other goals, and we must not lose sight of it.


Why would anyone want to be debian project leader?  Historical evidence
shows that it's a thankless job :-)

For me it's the same masochistic tendency that attracts me to archive
maintenance.  I have an emotional stake in the success of the project,
and it feels good to have a hand in that success.  I'm just naturally
attracted to meta-jobs like this.


I don't think that making time for it will be a problem.  Staying in
touch with the project will be the most time-consuming part of being
project leader, and I do that already because I enjoy watching the
project's activity.  Even when I'm so pressed for time that I do
nothing else, I still read the main mailing lists.


I hope that most of you already know me from my activities within
the project.  That's a much better guideline than anything I could
tell you :-)  I'll still say something, though, because there are
a lot of new developers, and because this is my chance to brag.

Almost since I signed up as developer, I've been interested in
project-wide activities, particularly ones that help focus the project
on urgent tasks.

I've made and promoted various task lists.  You may remember the
"libc5 packages" and "package overlaps" lists.  I also made the "Hamm
Bugs Stamp-Out List", which Wichert took over when I went on vacation.
He's done an excellent job with it since.

Last spring, Christian Schwarz and I collaborated to make Lintian (the
ultimate list-maker :-).  I think Lintian has a good chance to help
the project climb another rung on the ladder of development process

I've also done much of the day-to-day archive maintenance in the past
six months (except for this month).  This has gradually eaten up all
my Debian time, and I hope to make some structural improvements there.

I do have prior experience with leading a volunteer project, IgorMUD,
that is similar to Debian is size though not in scope.  I didn't do
that alone; I played various roles in a team of 6-12 people.  People
were sad when I resigned, that tells me something :)  I left after
six years, when I was lured away by the Debian Project.


Overall, I expect I will be a project leader who listens a lot and
says little.  I hope to speak up at just the right times.

Richard Braakman

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