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Re: Maintainer responsible for or only doing maintenance?

On 12-06-01 at 11:21am, Petter Reinholdtsen wrote:
> [Jonas Smedegaard]
> > Is my point clear now (even if is may disagree with my reasoning)?
> I find your point quite clear, but suspect you misunderstood those 
> claiming the sponsor have responsibilities regarding package 
> maintenance.
> To me it is obvious that the sponsor is also responsible for a 
> package, when the maintainer become unresponsive or missing.  When the 
> maintainer is active and available, the sponsor do not have to step in 
> and the responsibility is "sleeping". :)
> The maintainer is responsible in the day to day maintenance, but when 
> I sponsor packages I also keep in mind that I might end up having to 
> care about the package some time in the future if the listed 
> maintainer looses interest or disappears for other reasons.
> You seem to argue that this should not be the case.  Is this because
> of your current sponsor practice, or is there some other experience
> behind your view on the responsibilities of a package sponsor in
> Debian?

I do not mean to say that sponsors should not be held responsible for 
maintenance, just that such responsibility *currently* isn't obvious - 
as e.g. Bernd seems to argue - and that I find that problematic.

I read Policy as defining Maintainer as _socially_ responsible entity, 
and Uploader as optional _sub-entity_ when Maintainer cannot also hold 
_technical_ responsibility.  Sponsoring breaks that logic, but I believe 
we can restore it by treating sponsoring exactly the same as we do 
teamwork.  Let me try to explain...:

Once upon a time we had maintainers that maintained and was held 
responsible for that.  Back then I found it sensible that the 
"Maintainer:" field was prominent throughout our tools - it was 
hardcoded into each source and binary package (not resolved through 
network queries via e.g. PTS web pages or who-uploads), and appears in 
e.g. aptitude.

Today I find the Maintainer field a joke.

In the future I would like Debian to again use the Maintainer field to 
indicate who is *responsible* for maintenance.

So yes, this is tied to my sponsor practice: I don't do sponsoring (in 
the common sense of the term), but (when we cannot find a suitable 
existing team to join) form a two-person team with me as Maintainer and 
the non-Debian-member as Uploader. That makes only the Uploader field 
somewhat a joke, similar to how it commonly is for teamwork nowadays.

In my opinion a person outside of the Debian WoT does not make sense as 
a Maintainer, exactly because failures go unnoticed: Sponsors ought to 
take responsibility but are not on display so if they forget (or even 
worse, don't care) then we may only discover it much later in frustrated 
threads like this one.

Debian is not a company. We don't pay the work done in money, and don't 
fire people not performing well.  Instead, Debian is a social organism 
where work is "paid" or "punished by your name being prominently tied to 
your work.  Problem is, if you are not hanging out in Debian social 
circles you don't feel the encouragement/pressure of your name on Debian 
billboards.  And even if you do, others in Debian have trouble locating 
you, because you are not tied to our WoT.  Please note that the 
reliability of the WoT is not the issue here - only the practicality of 
those email addresses being uniquely identifiable and cross-referenced 
in our structures so who is who is easily identifiable.

Some may argue that I steal fame from the person doing the actual work 
on the package.  I feel that I take fame (or shitstorm) of 
_responsibility_ of the package maintenance, and whoever doing the 
underlying _changes_ are documented in changelog.  If my fellow 
unofficial maintainer later wants to apply for becoming DM or DD, proof 
of her/his actual contributions and skills in packaging is clearly 

I find sponsoring to be a hack, causing responsibility of maintenance to 
get blurred, with the consequence of packages going unmaintained too 
silently too easily.

Also, I find that sonsoring is not needed: Anything done in sponsoring 
can be done by teamwork instead.  Sure, for those sponsoring today 
feeling that their only responsibility is to _upload_ will feel that 
teaming up with the sponsoree instead is more responsibility - and that 
is exactly the point: sponsoring *is* more responsibility than just 
uploading, and today it is not clear, because we tag our sponsorees as 
maintainers even if in reality they (in my optic) cannot truly carry 
that role.

I truly and sincerely hope that I am not stepping on the toes of 
non-Debian folks doing packaging work.  That is absolutely not my intent 
- on the contrary I would want to make it more clear who is doing what 
and with which responsibility attached.

 - Jonas

 * Jonas Smedegaard - idealist & Internet-arkitekt
 * Tlf.: +45 40843136  Website: http://dr.jones.dk/

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