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Debconf 7 Venue Delegation

Hi all,

On the 23rd of June, I delegated [0] the decision on where to hold
DebConf 2007 to a group of six developers selected from the people
who had contributed to the recent conference in Mexico. At the time,
the decision on where to hold the conference was scheduled for the
5th of July, having been delayed first from being made at DebConf 6,
due to Safir Secerovic of the Sarajevo team being unable to attend due
to visa issues, and then from the 26th of June to the 5th of July so
as to allow a number of DebConf contributors to evaluate the sites [1]
before making a decision.

Unfortunately, the delegation has not been as successful as I had hoped;
and the meeting of the 5th was both somewhat poorly handled, and more
importantly, failed to reach a conclusion. Discussions since that time,
both public and private, have aired a number of additional areas of
concern, both related to differences of opinion on what purpose running
DebConf serves [2], ongoing issues in the leadership and structure of the
organising team [3], and concerns related to the way the delegation is
being conducted [4], with one of the delegates feeling that the process
as it stands is sufficiently flawed that he's not willing to continue
being a part of it [5].

The purpose of making the venue decision a formal delegation rather
than having it be an informal process was threefold: first to make sure
that the decision was made with the input of as many people as possible
(attendees, past organisers, sponsors, and the wider Debian community)
to ensure that the 2007 conference would be as successful as possible;
second to make it clear how the decision was made so that we could work
out what the relationship between DebConf and Debian itself should be
and to avoid delaying the decision unnecessarily due to uncertainties in
who has the ability to make the decision; and finally, to have a broad
range of experienced people making the decision so that it wouldn't be
affected by one or two people having a particular personal preference
one way or the other.

Unfortunately, the delegation doesn't seem to be achieving those goals,
so in light of this, I've decided to withdraw the delegation [6].

This isn't an easy decision, and the process so far hasn't been easy
on anyone involved, whether that be the delegates themselves, the
DebConf orga team members that weren't on the delegation, the bidders,
or the rest of us, so in the spirit of DebConf Hug Day [7] I'd encourage
everyone to spread a little bit of good will around, and show that we
really do appreciate everyone who's been contributing, whether their
role has been big or small, and whether you've had disagreements in the
past or not. We've had seven years of successful DebConfs so far, and
with passion and dedication, DebConf 7 will be the start of seven more.

So, where to from here?

At the meeting on #debconf-team this evening (18:30 UTC, irc.debian.org),
Steve McIntyre and myself (as 2IC and DPL of the Debian project)
will be hosting both bidding teams, past members of DebConf orga teams
(naturally including the ex-delegates), and interested members of the
Debian community to attempt to come to a consensus first and foremost
on what are the important issues in running a DebConf, and second to
come to a definitive decision as to the location of the next DebConf.

The venue decision will begin with a fairly brief discussion in order
to ensure that all the information about the venues has been made
available. We expect each of the bid teams to acknowledge the strengths
in the opposing bid, and the weaknesses in their own bid. Finally, we
will discuss what alternatives are feasible for the team not selected,
and do our best to achieve as strong a consensus as possible between
the two teams on how to proceed.

Given the confidence we have in both venues being able to run a successful
conference, the main focus of the meeting will be in working out what,
exactly, it means for the conference to be successful, so that both the
2007 team and future teams can focus on the goals most important to the
Debian community. This is a large task, and isn't something that will be
completed in a couple of hours -- what I'm hoping is that we'll be able
to come up with a range of aspects of DebConf that people appreciate;
and a range of problems people have had with past DebConfs, and that we
will be able to poll past attendees to determine which of these are most
important to them.


Anthony Towns
Debian Project Leader

[0] http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2006/06/msg00265.html

[1] Andreas Schuldei, Joerg Jaspert, and Alexander Schmehl visited both
    sites; Moray Allen (of the Edinburgh team) visited the Sarajevo site,
    and conducted the Edinburgh tour; and Jesus Clement and Annabelle
    Tully visited the Edinburgh site. Andreas, Joerg, Alexander and
    Moray's expenses are in the process of being reimbursed via SPI;
    Jesus and Annabelle paid their own way, to the best of my knowledge.

[2] http://lists.debconf.org/lurker/message/20060706.143715.be1fc909.en.html
[3] http://lists.debconf.org/lurker/message/20060706.073817.cb98b994.en.html
[4] http://lists.debconf.org/lurker/message/20060710.083433.0fc06e53.en.html
[5] http://lists.debconf.org/lurker/message/20060709.203811.ab3b7210.en.html

[6] Section 5.1(1), Powers of the Project Leader, authorises the DPL
    to withdraw a delegation unless a particular delegated decision has
    actually been made.

[7] http://debconf6.debconf.org/blog/2006/05/20

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