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Re: Reforming the NM process

MJ Ray <mjr@phonecoop.coop> writes:
> Marc 'HE' Brockschmidt <marc@marcbrockschmidt.de>
>> 1.1.1 Applicants [...]
> Time delays and poor communication were most annoying.

From an AM point of view, clueless and inexperienced applicants are most
annoying. They need much hand-holding and close supervision, something
that *really* shouldn't be needed for someone who's almost a DD (and, if
theories would match reality, would already be ready to get all rights).

>> 1.2.4 Task-based checks
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> Some people, including me, have discussed the possibility to use a
>> task-based approach to the NM process. As far as I know, I'm the only AM
>> who has actually finished this with an applicant. It was an interesting
>> experience, more challenging for applicant and AM than the usual
>> templates, but the amount of time needed for it is enormous. Also, it
>> misses the best feature of the NM templates - comparability. Each
>> applicant takes on other tasks, with other demands.=20
>> After doing this once, I'd not recommend it as a regular replacement for
>> the checks based NM templates we use at the moment, mostly because of
>> its time needs.
> Other qualifications use task-based assessment and yet are still
> comparable and reviewable. What model did you use for your
> task-based assessment?

I've asked Russ to do some some standard QA tasks (bug triage, preparing
a non-maintainer upload) and for the T&S part, Steve Langasek found a
"little" library transition that needed help. Searching for fitting
tasks that need to be done isn't that easy, I fear.

>> 1.2.5 More than one AM per applicant [...]
> Most of the problems with this could be overcome by simple
> measures, such as designating a "lead AM" in the team for
> each applicant to keep responsibility. I'm not sure whether
> it has enough benefit to be worthwhile, though.

Well, if you have a lead AM, the others will not read the mails between
him and the applicant, as they really have better things to do. It's not
as AMs would have too much free time...

>> 1.2.6 Web-based checks
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> It was proposed to change the NM process to be based on simple HTML
>> pages with some forms, checking for some things. This makes it quite
>> easy to "cheat".
> It's already quite easy to cheat the templates, isn't it?

Actually, no. Copy&Paste is not enough to answer the questions in the

> Applicants with fast/free internet connections, local mirrors
> and so on can do the bookwork needed for the template questions
> without much pain.

Right, which should ensure that they've read and understood what the
Debian policy mandates. That's the whole point of the templates - either
applicants already know what's needed and can write about it without
much problems, or they need to sit down and finally read and understand
the docs.

>> Also, our current checks include a lot of free writing,
>> discussing matters of philosophy, which won't be possible in a fully
>> automatic system. The current questions also allow to educate NMs in
>> areas they don't know much about.
> Should NM itself be a mentoring system, though?


> Does it have the resources to carry that function out properly? Is
> performing that function delaying admission of ready-to-help DDs?

Yes, because many applicants don't know enough when they apply. We don't
have clear rules that allow us to reject those early, so they're dragged
through the process, getting taught what's needed whenever the AM has
enough time for that.
That's OK if only a few things are unclear, but when applicants need to
learn a lot, it becomes a problem.

>> 2.1 Multiple advocates [...]
> Advocates seem pretty useless in the current system. The
> history in Wallach Allan and Harries suggests it is partly a
> simple filter and time-delay, while this suggestion seeks to
> "encourage prospective advocates no to advocate too fast".

Actually, it is a filter, but does not perform this task correctly at
the moment, because some people advocate too early. The filtering should
take place, definitely, but the current approach doesn't ensure this.

> This does not seem a scalable solution for any of the problems
> outlined so far, makes the time-delay for applicants worse

No. As said in my summary, if an applicant has had close contact with
only one DD, it's highly probable that it's too early to advocate him.

> Suggestion: Ask advocates to take on the formative/educational
> part of the current AM role and prepare a summary in a given
> format about the applicant. The summary could then be used as
> the basis for simpler summative testing by an AM, with swift
> referral back to advocate and applicant with direction, if the
> AM or FD is not satisfied. The aims are:

Sorry, but that sounds like moving the NM checks to the
advocates. Looking at the general quality of Debian packages, I'd prefer
to not follow that idea.

BOFH #261:
The Usenet news is out of date

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