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Re: New-maintainer flame-fest

On Mon, 15 Jan 2001, Eray Ozkural wrote:

> If there's one thing I've learnt in 10+ years of coding, it's that
> no single person is a guru at everything. In general, it's almost entirely
> inadequate to assume something about the talents/abilities of another hacker.

> Even in the most elitist circle I've ever been (demo scene), people
> used to appreciate the work others did and welcomed new hackers joining
> their ranks.

> About debian: The skills required for maintaining a handful of software
> so that they are built and configured well enough on half a dozen
> architectures is not a very difficult task. I pretty much think a lot
> of younger hackers, say about 14-16, would have all the skills for
> maintaining a debian package. So, skill isn't a very cruical issue. Debian
> can use all the volunteer force it can. (we're not doing black magic here) [*]

I'm sorry, I find I have to disagree with this statement.  No offense to any
14- to 16-yr-olds who are Debian developers or aspiring developers, but being
a package maintainer requires more than just the ability to hack.  I've known
many young programmers who could do truly amazing work, and I admire their
skill greatly; but maintaining Debian packages requires much more than the
ability to do cool things in code.  Being a maintainer requires taking on a
great deal of responsibility: responsibility for the packages in Debian,
responsibility for fixing bugs, responsibility to know your own limitations
and let the others know when you need to orphan a package.  It requires
someone who pays attention to detail, and who is committed to getting packages
right instead of fixing bugs with quick-n-dirty hacks.

I do not mean that there aren't 14-yr-olds out there capable of shouldering
such tasks, and I salute any younger developers among us for being far more
responsible at that age than I was; but it bears saying that in general
responsibility comes with age, and there are probably far fewer 16-year-olds
capable of passing muster with the DAM than you suggest with your message.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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