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Re: Social Committee proposal

On Thu, Jan 25, 2007 at 05:08:42PM -0600, Peter Samuelson wrote:
> > I also think that a social committee would be a good idea.  Even if
> > unrefined and/or undefined, just the notion of having both a
> > technical and a social committee would indicate major progress in our
> > way of thinking.
> Pretty words.  What problem is this supposed to solve?  What benefits
> can we expect from "major progress in our way of thinking"?

Here's a few aspects of the issue (not necessarily *problem* per se):

Debian is a thousand-member entity whose members operate according to
numerous more or less standardized beliefes and procedures, with various
intricate or general twists and undertones. So far we have attracted
at least two sociologists found the project an interesting study for a
scientific work. This isn't to say that I particularly fancy those things,
but the fact that they happen should make us think about it.

Or, alternatively, consider that other kinds of organizations, both
for-profit or non-profit, that have as many members as we do also generally
tend have a much more complex hierarchy than we do; they have whole human
resources departments which organize various schemes to facilitate
information sharing, decision making, etc. This isn't to say that I
particularly fancy those, either, it's just that we might want to take
note of our sheer size.

Another point, perhaps a bit closer to our every day life in Debian, would
be the simple fact that we still use the mailing lists as the main method of
discussion, despite the fact we've grown a magnitude in numbers, and that
the lists are actually too high-volume to track for a sizeable chunk of the
normal human population :) The way we do this kind of stuff affects the way
we do the technical stuff; for good or for bad, but it definitely has an

People will also notice that we still have a single leader, democratically
elected but with uncommonly few powers; groups formed ad hoc which are
influential, or groups formed after much fuss which are ineffective;
individuals who can be MIA, or those who can pull entire important
transitions all by themselves.

Forming a new body that would try to consider various non-technical, social
issues would definitely help gain some collective insight. Maybe we'll come
to the conclusion that we don't need the committee? Maybe that we don't need
the entire constitution?! Maybe, maybe not. But it's worth thinking about
and discussing, in an organized setting.

> > This one could be tricky to phrase. Maybe - "Decide on any social
> > matter, including social norms and customs, non-technical
> > communication among developers, and day-to-day organization matters
> > within the Project."
> For example?  For every social problem I can think of in Debian, the
> solutions are not enforceable by a committee vote, unless you give them
> the authority currently held by the DAMs, listmasters and ftpmasters.
> That is, the only ways I can see to effect social reforms is to be able
> to throw people out of the project, or restrict their list postings, or
> restrict their uploads.  Anything less is just empty gestures.

I disagree, it most definitely is not! Most people in Debian are not
sociopaths, they can be reasoned with, and they *should* be reasoned with.
We have been doing exactly that all this time, and it has not really failed
us yet.

Also, the social committee shouldn't necessarily effect *reforms*. It might
as well evolve into a reactionary entity that aims to maintain the existing
social order in Debian. But that's beside the point. The point is that we
don't have any group doing any organized thinking about these matters.

> People who cause social problems don't stop just because someone asks them
> to stop.
> Or is this, just like way too many other threads in Debian, really
> about Sven Luther needing a better ombudsman?

Umm, what? You do realize by the amount of my participation, or rather the
lack thereof, that I barely ever looked at the Sven Luther discussions that
caused this latest commotion? Please let's not resort to semi-random cheap

Please consider the proposal on its own merit. Consider also the simple
fact that I have been in this community for over eight years now, and
that I do have better things to do than to go about proposing a generic
constitutional ammendment over a single more-or-less transient issue.

> Perhaps you need to import a bit more context from -private.

What do you have in mind? This is it, AFAICT.

     2. That which causes joy or happiness.

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