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Dealing with maintainers who are MIA

Debian has grown quite a bit and like in most volunteer projects there are
members who have lost interest over the time or whose RL doesn't permit
them to spend any time on the project anymore.  This is problematic because
people are responsible for a package or a task but actually don't fulfill
their responsibility.  There must be better guidelines what to do in such
cases: it should be easier to do NMUs, to take over packages and to remove
people from the project.

Here are some things which have been proposed or which I do but this is
only a small part of the whole picture.

  - Identify developers whose e-mail is bouncing.  Joy recently forwarded
    some e-mails from the BTS to Debian developers which bounced.  I tried
    to find alternative e-mail addresses and to contact them.  So far, 2
    have fixed their address and 1 left the project.

  - Contact maintainers whose packages are out dated (Standards-Version <
    3.0, no upload for a long time, a long bug list) and ask if they
    are still active, if the package should be orphaned, etc.  I mailed
    a whole bunch of people about this a while ago and some fixed their
    packages while others promised to fix them and didn't.  I guess it's
    time to contact them again...

  - Robert McQueen suggested to take the "Last seen" information from
    db.d.o and contact those people who have never been active since the
    system has been introduced.  (Actually, Robot suggested a mixture
    between "Last seen", number of bugs, etc).

However, as mentioned above, the policy has to be take much more into
account.  What should be done if someone doesn't answer his e-mail.
Can the package be taken over by someone else?  When?  What ways should
be tried to find him (posting to -devel, to -devel-announce?  phone?).

When and how can people be expelled?  On which basis?

WRT NMUs, there are some figures in the Debian Developer's Reference and
there are some more figures in the document "Quality Assurance in Debian
[proposal]" at http://qa.debian.org/documentation/qa.html/ but this is
only a proposal.

What else?

Martin Michlmayr

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