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Re: Non-DD's in debian-legal

On Mon, Jun 12, 2006 at 09:35:32AM -0400, Jeremy Hankins wrote:
> This is one of the most common accusations leveled against d-l: that the
> membership of d-l is skewed and not representative of Debian as a whole.
> If that's true there's not much d-l can do about it, of course, and the
> whole process of license evaluation should perhaps be rethought.  The
> simplest solution, though, is for those who think d-l skewed to start
> participating.
> ....
> I think what's concerning to most (it concerns me) is that people seem
> to be _avoiding_ d-l, presumably because they see it as invalid or
> corrupted by weirdos.  That's indicative of a serious problem, because
> it means licensing issues aren't being discussed _at all_.  As saddened
> as I would be if d-l went private, if doing so is the only way to solve
> that problem it's probably a good idea.

The d-l list has a problem which is shared by many Debian mailing
lists (including debian-vote and debian-devel, and I'm sure it's not
limited to them) which is that far too many people subscribe to the
"last post wins" school of debate.  People don't listen, they just
assert their point of view --- back and forth, back and forth.  "Foo!"
"Bar!"  "Foo!"  "Bar!"

In addition, far too many people treat mailing lists like irc
discussions, where one-line witty reparte's provide entertainment
(perhaps) but do not necessarily further bringing an issue to closure.

As a result, I have deliberately avoided d-l, because I have better
things to do with my time.  If you want to reform d-l, it's not enough
to ask people to just "participate".  It's going to be necessary to
enforce some cultural changes to how participants on Debian mailing
lists behave.  They need to be respectful of the other participant's
time, and not just use the excuse of "free speach" to any kind of
anti-social and self-centered behaviour.

Unfortunately, the only thing I can think of that might be useful
would be active moderation of the list, combined with summary of the
opinions (with both majority and minority opinions) that is summarized
by the moderator, and which when it is due, can be archived on some
web site or wiki.  Yes, that means that d-l won't be the home to
free-spirited, free-ranging debate; instead, there might be structured
discussion that actually leads to light being shed and work being
accomplished in an efficient manner.  But it does mean that a
moderator has to be found that can declare certain discussions as
ratholes, and be capable of fairly summarizing the positions being
espoused by various camps on the list, and holding straw polls that
are based on participants on the lists, and not by number of postings
on the list (which unfortunately leads to the "last post wins" abuse
and style of discourse that we see on all too many mailing lists).

If everyone participating on the list were mature and grown-up, this
wouldn't be necessary.  And I would suspect that the call to restrict
d-l to only DD's is a hope to exclude some of the more immature and
less disciplined posters.  But, as we all know, being a DD does not
guarantee social maturity, so I don't believe that is necessarily the
best way to do things.

However, I *do* believe that d-l is a cesspit, and I for one am very
glad that in its current incarnation, it is not at all binding and has
no value other than being a debating socity --- a debating socity that
I am very glad that I can avoid, thank you very much.

							- Ted

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