[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: [debian-newmaint] fresh blood gets congested: long way to become DD

I am not sure that I want to feed the lengthening thread
on debian-devel, so permit me to follow up here on
debian-newmaint, which is probably the best place for
this kind of thing in any case.

Several voices have been heard recently complaining
about the length and arbitrariness of Debian's NM
process.  Most of these voices have been restrained,
respectful and well reasoned, so I hope that those
people will not be angry with me if I more or less
completely disagree.

To understand why, consider these questions.

  (1) Does the slow NM process not significantly
      depress Debian's MIA rate?

  (2) Would a faster NM process result in a
      higher-quality Debian operating system?
  (3) Is Debian's problem that it has too few new

  (4) Is the proper purpose of the modern NM process
      to attract new maintainers, or is it to weed
      them out?

  (5) If the Project is going to be unreasonable in
      one respect, shouldn't it be in NM?

  (6) Does anyone in the AM group deny that the AM
      process suffers some significant enduring

  (7) Whether not or whether so, how relevant is
      question 6 to questions 1 through 5?

If the answers to these rhetorical questions are what I
think they are, then consider:  If Debian were an army,
the AMs would be our drill sergeants.  Drill sergeants
are not reasonable people.  The army demands that drill
sergeants not be reasonable people.  An army in which
drill sergeants were reasonable people wouldn't be worth
the smudged brass on its tattered uniforms, and I'd be
ashamed to serve in it.  Wouldn't you?

Potential applicants who think the foregoing elitist and
totally unreasonable are right in a sense.  However, one
suspects that such people would be happier using Debian
rather than developing it, at least for the time being.
Debian needs some new blood---the best new blood we can
get---but the sort of brightly burning youthful
enthusiasm which does not endure significant frustration
and lengthy disappointment soon flames out.  We can't
have that here.

I fully understand the frustration of longsuffering NM
applicants.  If they weren't a little frustrated, they'd
be kind of weird.  Also, it is as idle to deny that the
NM process has not had some significant enduring
problems, as it is to suppose that one could solve such
problems merely by throwing ideas up in the air on this
list.  (Notice that I throw no ideas up.  Lacking the
time and competence to serve as an AM, I'd not presume.)
However, how else is the Project supposed to separate
the wheat from the chaff, as it were?  The Debian
operating system is fun.  Debian NM is not fun.  Debian
is not Wikipedia.  Debian NM is not supposed to be
fun---and it certainly is not supposed to be fast.

For the record, it took me 38 months of active Debian
development to gain DD status, during which time I
contributed a moderate 1000 hours or so to the Project.
While I think that some NM applicants are far more
talented than I and should get through faster, my AM
Martin Pitt did not think that 38 months was too long
for me.  I agree with Martin: in my case, 38 months was
not too long.  In your case it may be too long, but to
expect to get through in less than a year or two would
probably not be very reasonable.  (Old-time DDs like AJ
Towns, who got through NM in a week or two, should not
feel guilty.  It was a different time and a different
Project back then.  The achievements of that time have
made possible the needs of the present, yet one of these
present needs is that our NM process be hard,
frustrating and slow.)

From our Social Contract: "Our priorities are our users
and free software."  Debian development is a lot of fun,
and the desire to advance in Debian development to full
DD status is a worthy, honorable aspiration.  However,
do notice that the needs of NM applicants as such are
not among our stated priorities.

So, is an advanced Debian user weak or contemptible, if
he does not want to put up with the NM process?  No.  We
honor such users.  The NM process is unreasonable.  Most
reasonable people wouldn't want to put up with it.  But
isn't that the point?

In fairness to anxious applicants now in stream, who
disagree in some respects but (I know too well!) do not
feel free to respond, I want to be clear that I am not
suggesting that standards be stiffened on you midstream.
That would be manifestly unfair, and one doubts that it
would occur to anyone in the AM group to try it.  It is
the principle that I defend.  Our dedication to our
users and to free software demands that NM standards
rise not fall as Debian's fame grows.  The path to
Debian Developership is hard, frustrating and slow; and
is fit to be trod by few.  This is as it should be, in
my view.

Thaddeus H. Black
508 Nellie's Cave Road
Blacksburg, Virginia 24060, USA
+1 540 961 0920, t@b-tk.org, thb@debian.org

Attachment: pgpO4hc_2V6OF.pgp
Description: PGP signature

Reply to: