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Re: Misc web page changes, possible breakage

>   > > > I would like the site much better if the "Applicants waiting for
>   > > > DAM approval" section of the page were shorter. :-)
>   > >
>   > > Indeed... that would be great improvement ;)
>   >
>   > Certainly. This concerns me as well.
>   >
>   > To me it looks like no applicants have been approved since early March
>   > this year. That is almost 10 months! Can this really be?
>   That's not true. 9 applicants have been approved in August.
>   But previous applicants have been proceeded before March as you said.

Executive summary: Let's admit we have a human bottleneck problem, and
do so without any undertones of personal criticism against the DAM who
has served Debian for many ways over many years.  Then, we should
explore ways to address this problem, allowing the possibility of
compromise, that addresses as many of everyone's concerns as possible.


I think many of us who are either waiting for our accounts to be
created, ftp.debian.org bugs to be handled, or buildd-related issues
to be resolved are secretly wondering whether we have a problem of
human bottlenecks, but don't want to say anything about it in public
for fear of jeopardizing our NM status or otherwise prematurely
rocking the boat.  To me, the fact that several seemingly unrelated
things are all backlogged in part because of the same people being
behind is simply an indication that those people are overcommitted.
There's nothing wrong with that, and it doesn't necessarily reflect
badly on the individuals involved.  As a software engineer with over
15 years of development and system administration experience who has
been serving as lead software developer for my company for several
years, I can definitely sympathize with being overcommitted.  As
someone who has designed, implemented, and maintained complex systems
that others have a hard time fully understanding, I can also fully
sympathize with the fear of letting go.  There's always that fear that
things won't go as well if someone else takes helps or over, or that
people will make serious mistakes.  Those mistakes may even have
serious consequences sometimes.

I certainly don't want to second guess what the problem is with the
DAM approval process, never having actually spoken to or worked with
James personally, but if it is a question of overcommitment,
reluctance to let go, or something similar, I'm sure most people would
agree that a few mistakes would be an acceptable price to pay for
breaking the logjam.  Even the security compromise of over a year ago
didn't kill the project.  We should make every effort to avoid serious
mistakes, but we should admit that they won't necessarily kill the
project and may even not be as bad as the current state of affairs.
Debian is run by volunteers with real lives outside of Debian.  There
must always be space for people to get tied up with other activities,
even for weeks at a time.  If new accounts were approved on a regular,
consistent schedule, even if it were only every month or two, we would
have little reason to complain.  The current situation of people
waiting many months without any idea of when their accounts may be
created is not a good situation.  Any arguments one may put forth
about waiting periods, wanting to make sure people are really
committed, etc., break down after a certain degree, and we've crossed
that degree.

In other areas, such as package maintenance, there are mechanisms in
place that prevent a single person from becoming a bottleneck.
Perhaps we need a similar mechanism in the NM process.  It seems that
there are two key functions of the DAM: being the ultimate judge of
whether an application is acceptable, and performing the actual
mechanics of creating accounts.  Surely there are other people capable
of doing each of those.  Maybe it should be an elected position.
Perhaps there could be some policy stating that a backup account
manager, perhaps someone with access to create accounts but not
authority to judge an application, would be allowed to create accounts
if one month passed with no action after Front Desk approval.  There
is a backup account manager as well, but that doesn't seem to be
helping things.

There are always people who are going to flame, point fingers, and
pass blame.  I really don't want to do that.  I'm not qualified to
pass judgment over the individuals who are serving in these roles, and
I would be out of line to criticize their years of service.  That
said, I think anyone would agree that the current situation has to be
improved, and I'm sure many of us are both willing and qualified to
help out.  Thanks for reading.

Jay Berkenbilt <ejb@ql.org>

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