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Re: congratulations to our ftp-master team

Thijs Kinkhorst wrote:
> If there are still open problems, the best thing would
> be to communicate them as clearly as possible.

If James Troup and Ryan Murray have made one thing
abundantly clear, it is this: as a general rule, they
will not communicate.  Not clearly, not consistently,
not but rarely, not with the Project at large.  James is
not evil, nor presumably is the mysterious Ryan.  They
probably have their reasons.

The infrastructure people who *do* communicate---Steve
Langasek, A.J. Towns and Joerg Jaspert particularly come
to mind---appear to value James' and Ryan's
collaboration.  Nevertheless, suggesting that James and
Ryan themselves communicate is obviously a non-starter.
How many years have we been suggesting this?  Continuing
to debate among ourselves how we wish James and Ryan
would communicate is demeaning to us and, presumably,
irritating to them.  It stirs up loyal friends like
Wouter Verhelst and accomplishes nothing.

Unless James unexpectedly meets a vision of light on the
road to Debian Damascus and mends his ways, the reality
appears to be as follows.

    1.  Debian's infrastructure largely works rather
    well, probably in significant part because of
    the long volunteer hours James (and presumably
    the mysterious Ryan) devote to it.

    2.  Where Debian's infrastructure fails, we who
    want it fixed are required to play by James'
    rules: we must either work circumspectly through
    James' trusted lieutenants; or we must spend
    hundreds of hours hacking dak or whatever,
    proving our worthiness in the hope that James
    will someday let us join the Imperium's inner

    3.  If James' imperial rules are unacceptable to
    us, then the alternative is to change the person
    in James' position.  It has been years since any
    other option was credible.  We all know this.
    This means dismissing James from his fortified
    posts of Project power---and accepting the
    potential consequences of converting a powerful
    James from a difficult friend to a difficult

I am just one insignificant DD.  I do not flatter myself
that my opinion counts for much (especially given my
zero willingness to take over any of James' duties
myself, and my zero credibility to do so, even were I
willing).  Nevertheless such as it is, I personally feel
that despite good intentions James became a net
liability to the Project years ago, and that the only
good reason to retain him is that my hero Steve
Langasek---who probably will spank me for writing these
words---seems to want him.  I really, really do not want
to lose Steve, who is a bigger positive than James is a
negative.  Otherwise, the time had come for James to go,
and the way to make him go were simply to thank him
(sincerely) for his long service, to demand from him the
relevant Project root passwords, and to dismiss him from
his posts.

And if, hypothetically, James would not peaceably turn
over the root passwords?  Aye, that's always the risk
one runs in such revolutions, isn't it?  That would
hurt.  Yet the very prospect of the danger is itself the
sign that James has too much power.

Still, even now, could James not change for the better?
Probably, yes, he could.  But after all these years the
likelihood that he will is small, and at some point our
continuing to beg him to change only unmasks us as
fools.  James is our J. Edgar Hoover: he is in some ways
a good influence and in other ways a bad, but he does
not want to change and he does not want to go, and you
and I are going to have to face these facts.  It has
long been evident that further discussion with James on
the matter is futile.  Tolerate him, or dismiss him and
face the the consequences; these are our choices.

Your view may vary.  Since I am not in the Imperium's
inner circle, it would not surprise me if I had some of
the details wrong, so detailed correction is welcome;
but I think that the broad strokes of this post are
right in any case.  Perhaps you will agree.  Thanks for

Thaddeus H. Black
508 Nellie's Cave Road
Blacksburg, Virginia 24060, USA
+1 540 961 0920, t@b-tk.org, thb@debian.org

[My preference is that this post not be reported in
the DWN.]

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