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Re: why Ian Jackson won't discuss the "disputes" document draft with me

[Since Ian has said he won't listen to me, I'm making these remarks for
the benefit of the rest of the Project.]

On Sun, Nov 03, 2002 at 05:19:02PM +0000, Ian Jackson wrote:
>  5. Offer advice.
>     The Technical Committee may make formal announcements about its
>     views on any matter.  ((Individual members may of course make
>     informal statements about their views and about the likely views
>     of the committee.))

What's informal about a joint resolution?  Are you sure you didn't mean
to emphasize the first sentence instead?  If that's the case, why not
just circulate this draft among the Technical Committee and have them
vote yea or nay?

> Personally I think that deciding process questions (like whether a bug
> should be open or not under some circumstances) by voting is a very
> bad idea.  That's what we have the leadership for.

Maybe the BTS should serve the developers instead of the other way

> As I said earlier the private mail I've received has convinced me that
> I do have support for what I'm trying to do.  I don't expect my
> opponents (or indeed anyone else) to necessarily believe me,

It's not a matter of belief, it's a matter of unfalsifiable hypotheses
(at least within the parameters of respect for privacy of personal
emails; your supporters could of course mail this list with their
sentiments and thus clearly establish an evidentiary record).

Plenty of people believe in unfalsifiable hypotheses like God or free
will, and they may not even be the worse for it.  But these concepts
can't be evidence *for* anything in particular, because their own truth
is indeterminate.

> but it does mean that to me arguments of the form `see how Branden and
> Manoj dislike your ideas, you must be on your own' are unconvincing.

I haven't heard anyone make such an argument.

> If there are people out there apart from Branden and Manoj who
> disagree with me about anything to do with this document (or indeed
> about anything at all in Debian!), I'd like to encourage them to mail
> me about it.  I promise to do my best to reply constructively.

Well, Adam Heath, speaking with his Debian BTS Admin hat on, had
something to say about it.

> If I get the impression that I don't have the support I currently
> think I have you can be sure I won't press ahead, if only because
> getting trounced in a vote would leave me with egg on my face.

This assumes that those who are uncomfortable with your draft think that
the GR process is the best way to resolve the situation.

Indeed, it's possible that, given a credulous audience, one can succeed
in convincing a group that "everyone" is for something, and persuade
them that the machinery of democracy need not be engaged, when in fact
if an issue were to go a vote, it would be defeated.

In the instant case, maybe people are fearful of going up against the
legendary Ian Jackson, the Author of Our Package Management System and
Constitution, and Chairman of the Technical Committee.  This fear may be
compounded by an unwillingness to be decried in public as someone that
"Ian Jackson won't listen to", as you've just done with me.  It might be
possible for you to achieve your ends through intimidation -- even
inadvertently! -- that would not be achieved via an electoral
process.  All of this is why I think it's a bad idea to refuse to talk
to people when you're trying to do something important.  I am willing to
talk on point about issues of substance to your proposal, and you're
refusing to listen.

Another consequence of the tactics you've adopted -- I don't know if
this had occurred to you or not -- is that they tends to radicalize your
opposition.  That is, by eschewing constitutional process and by refusing
to discourse with those who have substantive disagreements with your
draft, you drive people to wanting to engage the heavyweight GR process
simply to have any chance of having their perspectives reflected in the
document.  In my opinion, this is not a very polite thing to do --
especially if one later uses this resort to constitutional process
against them.  It would not be kind to ridicule people to occupying the
corner that you back them into.

For these reasons, I urge you to abandon your policy of not listening to
people whose messages distress you when you read between the lines, and
to take differing opinions more seriously in general.  You didn't even
mention Adam Heath's difference of opinion in your message.

> Likewise, I'd like to encourage anyone who agrees with me and wants me
> to press on, and who hasn't already told me so, to mail me too.  I'd
> appreciate the additional moral support.

I would encourage those same people to mail -project instead, or in
addition.  Not just a "me too" or a "it's perfect as it is" (which, in
any case, might leave doubt as to whether draft #1 or draft #3 was
"perfect), but speak up and identify specifically what you like, just as
Manoj, Adam Heath, and I have specifically identified what we disagree

It may be that we're all much closer to being on the same page than some
of the acrimony would indicate.

G. Branden Robinson                |    Somewhere, there is a .sig so funny
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    that reading it will cause an
branden@debian.org                 |    aneurysm.  This is not that .sig.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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