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Debian Membership

While we were still working on Lenny, Joerg proposed [0] changing what sort of
membership the project has. This was postponed [1] until after Lenny was
released, which it now has. Since I have also suggested something similar in
the past [2], I'm quite interested in this and so this email is intended to
start a discussion on the topic. To avoid overloading -project, I'd like initial
discussion to happen somewhere else. If you are interested in helping discuss
the options for any potential ballot on this, please follow up to -newmaint.

I think the first thing we need to do is to try and agree on what the goal of
any change is. Otherwise we will be talking at cross-purposes. So, here are my
thoughts on what I want to achieve with the changes, please follow up with your
goals and your comments, agreement and disagreement with mine.

Once we have decided what the aim of the reform is, then we can suggest
concrete implementations of them. I'm hoping we will all agree on one set of
goals, if not then we may end up preparing two or more completely orthogonal
suggestions for a ballot later.

My goals with changing the membership procedures are:

	- To turn NM into a more evolutionary process where some privileges and
	  rights are granted earlier in the process and the qualifications for the
	  later parts are based mainly on the work done with the reduced privileges

	- To make some of those reduced privileges legitimate goals for people to
	  aspire to in their own right

	- To acknowledge more types of contribution

	- To retain at least some of the oversight and checks of the current NM
	  process for all of the technical parts of the membership process

	- To decouple of technical and political positions in the membership

Being part of the project, particularly with upload rights, is something I
believe _should_ be difficult. This restriction on access to the archive is one
of our strengths, it gives us a higher quality of packaging (yes, there are
exceptions, but they should be the exception, not the rule) than would
otherwise be possible. 

I don't think that just "be able to revert things" is a good answer, sadly. A
few reasons: firstly, it implies people are checking all the packages (which I
really don't think will happen) and it overlooks the problem that reverting
changes can (think: transitions) actually be quite painful due all the related
packages which need to change. 


0. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2008/10/msg00005.html
1. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2008/12/msg00007.html
2. http://wiki.debian.org/Projects/AltReformedMembershipProcess

Matthew Johnson

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