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proposed new pseudo-package 'debian-mentors' for handling sponsoring requests


We plan to ask for the creation of a new pseudo-package
debian-mentors or mentors.debian.org [3] (contact:
debian-mentors@lists.debian.org) in Debian's bug tracking system (the
name is still subject to change). A workflow for handling sponsoring
requests is proposed below. It is based on an earlier discussion on the
debian-mentors list[1].

The workflow will also be made available on [2].

[1] <http://lists.debian.org/s2svcsm447s.fsf@bistromathics.mathi.uni-heidelberg.de>
[2] <http://wiki.debian.org/Mentors/BTS>
[3] mentors.debian.net is not a .org service (yet). We do not intend to
    push its transition by that right now.


Currently there are three ways to ask for sponsorship of an upload to
the Debian archive: uploads can be requested via a packaging team, via
private mail to a (known) developer or via public mail to the
debian-mentors lists.

Sponsorship in teams can work very well, for example in the Debian Perl
Group, but some other teams do have a lack of developers. For these
people and maintainers of packages that do not fit in any existing team,
the only way to ask for sponsorship is often the third route: the
debian-mentors lists. However the current procedure is (too often?)
disappointing for both sponsorees [1][2], but also for developers who
lost any interest in sponsoring packages.

Problems with the current handling of debian-mentors requests include in
our opinion:

 * RFS mails are lost in space due to the high volume of requests. Many
   requests are ignored or never get any feedback. 
 * Comments and prior reviews may be lost or forgotten, or remain
   unhonoured when the maintainer opens a new RFS thread instead of
   replying to the last.
 * Nobody knows answers to questions such as "how many packages are out
   there which are seeking an uploader" or "what is the status of a
   particular RFS" without looking through mailing list archives.[3]
 * Duplication of comments on the debian-mentors list and
   mentors.debian.net. (those should die anyway, or at least be

We propose to use the BTS to handle sponsoring requests. Both sponsorees
and sponsors should already be familiar with its usage and we hope it
will improve the sponsoring process for both sides. It will also make it
easier to analyse sponsoring (e.g. number of requests without a

We hope this will make it easier to sponsors to seek requests that still
need attention and encourages more developers to sponsor uploads. We
also hope to encourage peer-review of packages by other non-developers.
Further suggestions on improvements or simply reasons why you do not
sponsor uploads or what other problems you have with the current
procedure or our proposed workflow are of course welcome.

[1] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-mentors/2012/01/msg00334.html>
[2] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2011/05/msg00753.html>
[3] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-mentors/2011/09/msg00126.html>


In general all mails should be sent to the RFS request
(nnn@bugs.debian.org). Please also Cc the submitter
(nnn-submitter@bugs.debian.org). A copy will be sent to the mailing list
automatically by the bug tracker.


Once a source package has been prepared and made available (for example
via [1]), file a new bug report against the debian-mentors

  To: submit@bugs.debian.org
  Subject: RFS: hello/3.1-4 -- friendly greeter

  Package: debian-mentors
  Severity: normal (important for RC bugs, wishlist for new packages)

  Dear mentors,

  I am looking for a sponsor for my package "hello":

  dget -x http://mentors.debian.net/debian/pool/main/h/hello/hello_3.1-4.dsc

  It builds these binary packages:

    hello - friendly greeter

  More information about hello can be obtained from http://www.example.com.

  Changes since the last upload:

  hello (3.1-4) unstable; urgency=low
    * Adopt package. (Closes: #123457)
    * Fix typo in package description. (Closes: #123456)

   -- J. Maintainer <j@example.com>  Sat, 10 Dec 2011 22:17:05 +0100

  J. Maintainer

Please indicate in the subject if the package fixes RC bugs, is a QA or
NMU upload or a new package:

  Subject: RFS: hello/1.0-1 [NEW] -- friendly greeter
  Subject: RFS: hello/1.0-3 [QA] -- friendly greeter
  Subject: RFS: hello/1.0-1.1 [NMU] [RC] -- friendly greeter
  Subject: RFS: hello/1.0-2 [RC] -- friendly greeter

Please keep track of the bug and respond to comments. If the bug was
tagged moreinfo or wontfix and you think you have addressed the issues,
please remove the respective tag again.

If you changed the package to address concerns, please send a follow-up
to the sponsoring request (To: nnn@bugs.debian.org) that includes the
URL to the source package and the last changelog entries similar to the
initial request.

If there are issues with the upload after the bug was closed, for
example when the package was rejected by the archive software, you can
reopen the bug (again, please include references to the updated source
package or ask for advice).

[1] <http://mentors.debian.net>


Anybody feeling competent enough is invited to review sponsoring
requests. You do not need to be a Debian Developer to do so.

Please send any comments to nnn@bugs.debian.org (Cc:
nnn-submitter@bugs.d.o). You can use the following tags to indicate

 * moreinfo: the package needs work before it can be uploaded
 * confirmed: the packaging looks sane (a very shallow first review)
 * wontfix: large problems or cannot not be uploaded at all.

If you intend to take care of the sponsoring request until the package
is ready for upload, please consider setting yourself as the owner of
the bug and tag the bug pending:
  $ bts owner nnn me@example.com , tag it + pending


After you uploaded a package, please close the bug report by sending a
mail to nnn-done@bugs.debian.org. Do not close RFS bugs in
debian/changelog. It is the sponsor who solves the issue, not the
supplier of the package or anyhow related to the package itself.


Inactive requests should be closed (semi-)automatically after a longer
term of no activity (two weeks for requests tagged wontfix, six weeks
for requests tagged moreinfo and six months for others). The same
applies to uploaded packages for which the sponsor forgot to close the
RFS bug.


A short summary intended usage of tags:

 * moreinfo: open questions or changes are required before an upload.
 * confirmed: somebody did a brief review the package and it looks
   sane. It can still have (smaller) issues that need to be fixed before
   an upload.
 * pending: somebody is willing to look after the package until it is
 * wontfix: large problems or cannot not be uploaded at all.


 * reportbug template (already existing as a proposal by Michael
 * Send out a monthly report, where inactive bugs can be listed, and
   volunteers could glance over the list, and deal with said bug
 * Integration into UDD bug search[2]

[1] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-mentors/2011/09/msg00522.html>
[2] <http://udd.debian.org/bugs.cgi>


 * There are plans to integrate a more formal workflow into Debexpo. For
   example Debexpo could track BTS bugs, and decide actions based on
 * It is important to synchronize any discussion (e.g. comments) between
   the mailing list, the BTS and Debexpo. The current situation is a
   mess and even worse than any approach used before (i.e. comments on
   debian-mentors only).
 * Teams could automatically be informed about uploads of relevant
 * Sponsors could be informed about relevant packages being uploaded to
   mentors.d.n (cf. [1] - some of that stuff is already implemented but
   not released yet)
 * Make it possible to file a new RFS request through mentors at least.

A tight integration of the code base is not possible due to lack of time
of its maintainers (any help is appreciated!), but changing or
introducing templates to reflect a new BTS workflow is possible
immediately. Thus, the lack of code support on mentors.d.n side is
certainly not a show stopper.

[1] <http://wiki.debian.org/DebianMentorsNet#Maintainers.2BAC8-sponsorees>


In previous discussions two main concerns were raised:

Why not use the wnpp pseudo-package?[1]

We believe a separate pseudo-package would be better as this would make
it easy to direct sponsorship requests to the right people. The wnpp
pseudo-package already has much traffic unrelated to this resulting in a
lower signal-noise ratio.

Wouldn't a specialized application be better than using the BTS?[2]

People should already be familiar with the BTS. Using a special
interface for sponsoring requests would create more inertia (and
somebody would have to design such an application first). We hope
however for a better integration in the debexpo software that runs
mentors.debian.net in the future (of course this would also require
someone working on it, see the previous section).

[1] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-mentors/2011/09/msg00166.html>
[2] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-mentors/2011/09/msg00133.html>


Ansgar Burchardt
Jakub Wilk
Arno Töll
gregor herrmann

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