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Re: Bits from the ftpmasters

On Sun, Feb 20, 2005 at 04:52:41PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> Joel Aelwyn wrote:
> >On Sat, Feb 19, 2005 at 08:08:55PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> >>What's sad is that even as Martin Krafft seems to be sincere in wanting 
> >>to apologise and get on with things (in private mail anyway), the torch 
> >>is just taken up by Thomas and Joel and MJ Ray anyway and the 
> >>accusations of working against the project continue without abate.
> >You asked, in another part of the thread, why nobody listed "ask nicely".
> >Because it gets ignored
> So tell me, how do you imagine Matthew Garrett got the information in 
> the summary he just posted?

If I had to *imagine*, I'd say "he probably looked at the things people
have said about their interactions with ftpmasters, and read between the
lines of the various announcement mails, and read what the DPL has said",
because that is the most consistant with what I have personally seen
happens when people try to ask ftpmaster anything. It's not what I *hope*
happened, but it remains my most likely *guess* if I had to take it based
solely on actions of the past (rather than, say, guessing from yoru tone
that you want me to say "he asked").

I'd prefer not to imagine, of course; either he, or anyone in the ftpmaster
role, could say "<someone> gave him the details", and, voila, I wouldn't
need to imagine at all. Even, however, if he asked nicely and got what he
wanted, I have seen quite a few people who asked and got what was either
/dev/null, or an excellent imitation thereof.

> >As was noted in another email, I have never worked with any other volunteer
> >organization where "the right to do no work" translated into "the right to
> >hold a position and not do the tasks associated with it", only that one
> >could not be required to accept a position with responsibilites beyond what
> >one wanted to do.
> Well then, this must be an exciting new experience for you; I hope 
> you're approaching it with an open mind and a receptive aspect.

Actually, so far all it's managed to convince me of is that the variety
of books written about how to organize volunteer projects to be effective
are, in fact, correct when they say that methods resembling the ones Debian
uses are, in fact, not very effective. (On the contrary point, and to
Debian's credit, things such as the Social Contract are quite effective at
getting cohesion among diverse volunteers, which I suspect is why Debian
has produced the amount that it has to date).

There's a word for volunteer organizations that land in the situation of
someone having responsibilities that others depend on that they don't
execute, and yet not acting to route around or replace that person or
person(s). It's "stagnant", or perhaps "flailing".

> >We don't let random developers who never upload, never speak, and don't
> >answer their mail continue as developers with voting rights, after a
> >certain point (we call them "MIA", instead).
> MIA developers certainly are able to vote; they're also able to upload 
> and login to Debian machines. Every now and then MIA maintainers get 
> pinged to see if they still exist, and only if they don't reply to that 
> or reply indicating they have no use for their accounts, do their 
> accounts get disabled. If they change their minds and want their 
> privleges back, they have to do nothing more than ask. And further, MIA 
> means "not responding; for all we know, may not exist anymore", not the 
> "not fulfilling their responsibilities" that you seem to want it to mean.

Actually, according to the last DAM post, that's untrue once they go past
the account revocation stage; they then have to run the NM gauntlet again,
though it will probably have a couple of biases applied (both "This person
probably already knows most of T&S and P&P, but will they stay active this
time?" - at least, that's what's been expressed by the only AM I know of
who has discussed the topic at all).

A normal DD *has* no specific responsibilities except "be active in the
project" and "abide by the Social Contract and Constitution", and "be
active" is the reason for the ping check. Any other responsibility they may
have taken on can generally be taken over by others unless they actively
object (and we have procedures for dealing with "they object, but they also
let the task rot", because that falls under "blocking others from doing the

> I realise your ignorance in this and other matters is because of the 
> very problem you're criticising, and I certainly can forgive you that; 
> what that doesn't make it acceptable to start pontificating on things 
> you know absolutely nothing about.
> Although, heck, the above *is* documented publically; you can find it in 
> the developers reference for the MIA status implications, and a 
> description of how an MIA ping works, via the -devel-announce post
> from (iirc) last time such a thing happened:
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2003/05/msg00006.html

Read it, thanks. I know how it works.

> >If "not do any work you don't
> >want to do" is really enshrined as you interpret it in the Constitution,
> >then we have violated it every time we revoke an MIA account, because we
> >have no statement of their intent to resign, as opposed to merely doing no
> >work.
> See, this is what you get for discussing things on Debian lists -- 
> people with an axe to grind, who've no idea what they're talking about, 
> telling you how things absolutely must or must not be done, and getting 
> it wrong.
> And that's even when all the information on the topic has already been 
> made publically available.

As opposed to people who are willing to write several emails a day to
discuss the discussion of their role, but somehow never find the time or
motivation to address any of the issues people raise with the way the role
itself is being handled.

I do what I do for the project, and if and when people have problems with
that, I address the problems as best I can and talk to the people about
what caused the problem and what is being done to fix it. I guess the only
way to actually resolve the question of what the duties of a volunteer
actually are if they take on a role (as opposed to a package, which is
already fairly clear) will require either the DPL to make some sort of
policy about what is required to keep one's appointment (or fail to make
one, in which case it's effectively "nothing"), or a GR to modify the
documents to cover it (which I would find pretty damned sad and ridiculous,
so I'm not going to propose one; if we have to go that far, it's gone
beyond pointless).

Which, I guess, leaves me with only the option to cast a DPL vote this year
based in part on this issue, when the time comes, since neither attempting
to fork the project nor storming off in a huff would actually be productive
(I still believe attempting internal reform could be, call me an optomist).
Joel Aelwyn <fenton@debian.org>                                       ,''`.
                                                                     : :' :
                                                                     `. `'

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