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Re: Proposal: s have a GR about the init system

Steve McIntyre <steve@einval.com> writes:
> Bastien wrote:

>> It seems that the tech committee is composed of two well known ubuntu
>> developers.  Isn't that biased? I mean do you see them voting against
>> upstart, I know that the decision should be based around technical
>> facts, but that is not in their interest to vote against their project,
>> especially since canonical is isolating itself from the rest of the
>> community, so having Debian support is, I guess, really important, so

> -1, Troll.

> Please apologise to the TC members immediately for your insinuations
> of corruption, or go away and don't come back.

Hang on a second.  I really don't think Bastien is accusing people of
corruption.  Rather, he's saying that people have a conflict of interest.
And he's right; there is a conflict of interest.

I think it's fair game to say that, and I think it's important to say
that.  Governance processes should be open and forthright about conflicts
of interest.

Just because someone is conflicted doesn't mean that there's necessarily a
problem, or even that they necessarily need to recuse themselves.  It all
depends on the nature of the conflict and the nature of the issues
involved, what role they have in the decision-making process, and so
forth.  But those conflicts absolutely should be acknowledged, since
that's the first step in analyzing what action should be taken about them,
if any.

Free software communities tend to be small and very tightly entwined, so
conflicts of interest are (in my experience) common in free software
governance and sometimes unavoidable.  That makes it all the more
important to talk about them, be conscious of them, and decide how one is
going to handle them.  You'll often see people talk about taking off or
putting on different hats; that is, in part, a ritual and mental reminder
that one has potential conflicts of interest and one should be very clear
in one's own mind about what role one is playing at any given point.  For
example, I also have multiple potential conflicts of interest in my TC
work: I'm also a Policy editor, which can be relevant when the TC issue is
an escalated Policy dispute, and I work for an employer who uses Debian
heavily and therefore have an incentive to support things in Debian that
my employer would want to see happen.  Those are conflicts that I have to
be aware of and manage.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with publicly discussing conflicts of
interest and being aware of them, and reminding people that they do have

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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