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Re: Position Statement to the Dunc-Tanc "experiment"


Thanks a lot for this mail. It clearly explains what I and others feel
about the Dunc-Tanc "experiment". I haven't signed it, but please
consider this mail as a signature.

Aurelien Jarno, Debian Developer

On Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 07:46:00PM +0200, Joerg Jaspert wrote:
> Hi,
> After a long and ambivalent discussion during the last weeks the project
> "Dunc Tank" (short DT from now on) has recently started.  We consider
> that to be a major change to the Debian project culture: For the first
> time Debian Developers are paid for their work on Debian by a
> institution so near to the project itself.
> While we disagree with DT for the reasons outlined below, we want to
> state that this is not against the two people who should now benefit
> From it. We do trust Andreas and Steve that they do the best they can
> and only intend to do something good for Debian.
> With this mail we would like to summarize our thoughts about the DT
> project and the idea behind it. We also want to raise some questions we
> still consider unanswered and open:
> - Why were the release managers (RMs) chosen as beneficiary for this
>   experiment? There are several areas within the Debian project
>   that we consider equally important and full-time work there could
>   benefit the project way more. Especially since it is clear now that we
>   currently can not keep the scheduled release date, even with DT paying
>   our RMs.
> - What exactly are the release managers being paid for? There surely
>   must be more than a simple "Stay at home, work on Debian" in their
>   contract.
> - How does DT want to know whether the release managers stick to their
>   part of the agreement?
> - How is the success of this "experiment" measured? (For the release as
>   well as for the entire project)
> - How do these measurements make sure that the observed consequences are
>   based on the experiment?
> - How is it planned or is it even possible to compare the consequences
>   of the experiment with a state of the project without this experiment?
> - What actions have been taken to ensure that potential negative
>   outcomes of the experiment won't affect the Debian project?
> - Has it taken into account that several developers who have spent large
>   chunks of time on Debian before got demotivated to continue their work?
> - How do these measurements try to compare positive and negative effects
>   on the release as well as the Debian project itself?
> - During the discussion before the experiment it was said that the
>   living costs of the release managers are to be paid. Additionally it
>   was said that it is "providing a reasonable amount of money to cover
>   living expenses" and later on, that this is "below the average" they
>   could get elsewhere. However, the official donation site[1]
>   mentions US$ 6000.00 for each release manager. We do consider this to
>   be neither just "living costs" nor "below average", not even by
>   applying common taxes and insurances one has to pay. On what grounds
>   has this amount been calculated?
>   [1] https://www.pubsoft.org/pubsoft.py/project?proj=Dunc-Tank-etch-rm
> Although DT claims to be separate from Debian, we still feel that we are
> entitled to an answer to our questions, since after all, we are the
> people DT is experimenting with!
> After this set of questions let us comment on DT and present our opinion
> about statements made by DT supporters and board members.
> One claim of the DT people is that this "is only an experiment". Yet
> this whole affair already hurts Debian more than it can ever achieve. It
> already made a lot of people who have contributed a huge amount of time
> and work to Debian reduce their work. People left the project, others
> are orphaning packages, the NEW queue is rising, system administration
> and security work is reduced, DWN is no longer released weekly and a lot
> of otherwise silent maintainers simply put off Debian work and work on
> something else. While some of these actions simply tend to happen, all
> the listed points are explicitly due to DT. Compared to possible
> benefits one may see - e.g. releasing near a time we promised to release
> at - in our opinion this is not worth the trouble DT already got us in.
> Another bad feeling introduced by DT is that of a two-class
> project. Until DT, Debian has been a completely volunteer-based
> project. Today there are two paid Release Managers, opposed to all other
> project members. This creates a set of two "uber-DDs", in contrast to
> all the other nearly 1000 Developers and many more maintainers, whose
> work seems to be considered less important for Debian. It is ridiculous
> to set a deadline and then to create a project to pay those two people
> who set the deadline, but ignore the huge amount of work other people
> put into Debian. It is not as if those two Release Managers are now
> doing all the work that needs to be done, it is expected that they go
> and "direct" other people to do the work for the release. So why don't
> we pay all of them also? Aren't they worth the money?
> Another statement we heard repeatedly from DT supporters is that "DT is
> a separate project and not Debian". We do think that this is, at best, a
> joke. The DT board consists solely of the current Debian Project Leader,
> his assistant and other high-profile Debian Developers, working on a
> Debian related project. This simply can't be seen as something separated
> From Debian and the public has already proven that it doesn't consider
> it a totally separate project.
> We also heard a lot of sentences like "this happens since years, DT is
> nothing new". We do acknowledge that people get paid for work on Debian
> issues since years. We do not have a problem with this fact per se,
> quite the opposite is true. The big difference between DT and any random
> company paying people to work on Debian is that companies usually pay
> people to work on stuff they benefit from, for example a programmer that
> enhances a program in Debian and also happens to be the package
> maintainer has the permission to maintain the package in Debian during
> its work time. Or some system administrator that can enhance packages in
> Debian which then also benefits his work (like fixing bugs he then
> doesn't have to fix on every package upgrade). The important point here
> is that it does not involve an employer <-> employee situation within
> Debian, which DT is now introducing.
> So, to summarize DTs effects on Debian: It has demotivated a lot of
> people who now either resigned, simply stopped doing (parts of their)
> Debian work or are doing a lot less than they did before DT was
> started. The freeze got delayed and getting the release out on schedule
> has become nearly impossible. We are unable to see any good virtue in
> this "experiment".
> The heated discussion DT has consumed an incredible amount of
> time and energy that could also have been used in a much more productive
> way. This was probably expected from the DT initiators but didn't keep
> them from setting off this discussion at such an important time -
> shortly before the release. Why they didn't introduce DT *after* the
> release, or much much earlier in this release cycle, when there is/was
> time and a lengthy discussion would not have taken otherwise needed time
> is not understandable.
> Having said all this and also risking yet another flamewar, let us make
> a last request for now: Please have a healthy discussion, let the DT
> people answer these questions, tell them (or us) if they (or we) made wrong
> assumptions or something, but please do not flame.
> Signed by:
> Jörg Jaspert, ftp-master assistant, DAM, DebConf Organizer
> Alexander Schmehl, Debian Developer, press, event manager, DebConf Organizer
> Alexander Wirt, Debian Developer
> Daniel Priem, New Maintainer
> Martin Würtele, Debian Developer
> Gerfried Fuchs, Debian Developer
> Patrick Jäger, User
> Otavio Salvador, Debian Developer
> Joey Schulze, Debian Developer, Security, DWN, DSA, press, promoter
> Felipe Augusto van de Wiel, New Maintainer
> Sam Hocevar, Debian Developer
> Pierre Habouzit, Debian Developer
> Julien Danjou, Debian Developer, Stable Release Manager
> Peter Palfrader, Debian Developer
> Julien Blache, Debian Developer, promoter
> Christoph Berg, Debian Developer, QA, NM front-desk
> Holger Levsen, New Maintainer, DebConf Organizer
> Some public statements from Debian people:
> Holger Levsen:  [2] rather say no without reasons than say nothing
> Julien Danjou:  [3] My way to have etch released on time
> Gerfried Fuchs: [4] All Praise Dunc-Tank!
> Joey Schulze:   [5] Debian is a failure, [6] Where's the fun gone?, [7] Debian Weekly News
> Julien Blache:  [8] Dunc-Tank and "living expenses"
> [2] http://layer-acht.org/blog/debian/#1-37
> [3] http://julien.danjou.info/blog/index.php/2006/09/20/334-my-way-to-have-etch-released-on-time
> [4] http://alfie.ist.org/blog/2006/09/21
> [5] http://www.infodrom.org/~joey/log/?200609210757
> [6] http://www.infodrom.org/~joey/log/?200609220755
> [7] http://www.infodrom.org/~joey/log/?200610250942
> [8] http://blog.technologeek.org/2006/10/25/32
> -- 
> bye Joerg
> <elmo> [..] trying to avoid extra dependencies on gnumeric is like trying to
>        plug one hole in the titantic with a bit of tissue paper"

  .''`.  Aurelien Jarno	            | GPG: 1024D/F1BCDB73
 : :' :  Debian developer           | Electrical Engineer
 `. `'   aurel32@debian.org         | aurelien@aurel32.net
   `-    people.debian.org/~aurel32 | www.aurel32.net

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