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Re: Reforming the NM process

Dear Marc and fellow Debian friends,

Thanks for this cogent and clear summary of the problem as you see it.
 It reminds me a bit of the problem of scientific peer-review; for-pay
journals often ask people to donate their limitted time reviewing
other people's work.  Although the journal profits, the reviewer does
not directly benefit from reviewing, usually.  This has always struck
me as backwards-incentives.  In my opinion, the for-profit journals
should compensate skilled and rare scientists for their time when
reviewing papers.  Everybody knows reviewing other people's papers for
the first time is the most boring work.  And nobody has enough time
yet it's a bottleneck in the whole process.  So why not pay for it? 
So long as the reviewer is respected enough to make a good judgment,
it shouldn't be impossible to coordinate some direct compensation to
ease the pain if the task is commonly-agreed to be painful.  People
pay a fee to take most certifying exams for example.

I wonder if the same could be applied to Debian?  (note I am not a
NM/DD yet) I think Debian has really taken off as a new nexus for open
source and would expect if it were possible to make a money
contribution to speed up the NM queue many would be up for it.  After
all, many of us have been using Debian for years and we all depend
heavily on bug-free and recent software.  I think Debian has served as
one of the great successes in open-source quality assurance process
(along with the Linux and BSD kernels) but there is clearly a problem
of too much boring work leading to bottlenecks repeatedly.  What if we
make an AM salary-pool (open for donations all the time) and pay out
once a month say 10% of the total pool in proportion to the number of
people "checked"?  Then more donations mean bigger incentives for any
of the qualified AM's to grab some cash.  Maybe there can be a very
small number (1-3) of AM-managers that ensure AM checking quality
doesn't go downhill or become corrupted as a result and ensures proper
credits are given that lead to proportional compensation for those
willing to put in the extra hours for AM checking in a major way?  We
certainly wouldn't want to get a new crop of for-money-only AM's, but
this doesn't mean (to me) that we shouldn't consider helping our very
rare, necessary and current skillful AM's devote more time to the
cause without so much personal sacrifice.  We would all benefit from
getting the rare good developers sooner into the project I think.

I remember a similar system has been used quite successfully for a
long time in the RSA factoring challenge [1] to encourage integer
factoring research; I myself was one of many people who tried (and
failed!) to get a piece of the pie even though it was a relatively
small amount of money being offered each quarter.  It was simply
divided according to a point-based system that made new longer-number
breakthroughs worth more.  Even though I never got paid I thought it
was a fun and effective way of pushing my interest in a possibly dry
field.  Here is one of the unexpected humor breakthroughs that RSA
I wonder what kind of knock-on effects we could expect if Debian had a
similar system going.

Best regards,


1. http://www.rsasecurity.com/rsalabs/node.asp?id=2094
2. http://groups.google.com/group/comp.lang.c++/browse_frm/thread/a7cc5e74e12fca4d/6bedcbfa8c15b994?lnk=st&q=factoring+rudi&rnum=1&hl=en#6bedcbfa8c15b994

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