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Re: Bits from the DPL: DSA and buildds and DAM, oh my!

On Friday 23 February 2007 03:13, Anthony Towns wrote:
> I'm trying to be descriptive here rather than prescriptive or
> proscriptive [...]

I appreciate the clear overview of the current status. I would also like 
to say that I feel the people currently holding positions in the various 
teams are all highly competent, have the best interests of Debian at hart 
and do the work that is done well.

However, the last few years I have also had a very strong conviction that 
the teams are just too small, that too much - often minor and routine - 
work is not getting done, or at least not getting done within a reasonable 
time frame. And also that even within the teams certain tasks too often 
depend on the availability of a single person instead of the members 
fluidly taking over jobs that need doing from eachother.

It is also a fact that the persons who are in these teams have for the 
most part been part of them for a relatively long time already. They are 
not the same persons they were when they started the job. Some now have a 
lot less time available (or even to some extend conflicting priorities) 
due to new jobs, others have gotten less motivated to work on Debian due 
to changes in the project.

IMO setting up an RT system will not fundamentally solve any of this, but 
will at most make it more manageable. The only way to solve this is by 
having new blood in the teams, people who will take on the most boring 
and routine tasks with enthusiasm because it is new and who bring fresh 
ideas and the energy to implement them to the teams.

The way to get new members in a team is not to say "prove yourself first 
by working on something that needs doing (but don't count on us for any 
information or support) and we'll consider you in about 5 years time".
That just does not motivate people.

Of course I understand that in these particular teams the project (and the 
current members) want to make very sure that new members have the right 
mentality as mistakes on any of the core project machines can have huge 
consequences. Fine, but you cannot convince me that among the 100-150 
more active developers there are not sufficient people that have shown 
through their contributions, their attitude in discussions and so on that 
they _are_ basically competent and trustworthy.

This can be further guarded by having a trial period with mentoring by 
existing members, by not giving out full authorizations immediately, and 
by having very clear agreements about what jobs a new member can do by 
himself, what needs to be reviewed by existing members, and what he 
should absolutely not touch.

A few examples of issues not mentioned in your mail that I have 
experienced first hand:
- no response at all during the last 3 months or so to requests to
  authorize new people for debian-doc or debian-www; only after
  /msg'ing a "friendly" DSA member personally were two accounts added,
  there are most likely other requests still pending
- Joerg does a great job processing NEW (both quality and quantity), but
  the backlog grows fast if he's not/less available for a while
- same for BYHAND processing (doc-debian is now waiting for a month);
  often requires repeated and active pinging
- recently we had a "disk full" problem for wiki.d.o which required
  emergency action; is there no regular monitoring for this?
  (I understand that a move to a different machine was already planned,
  but still, diskspace problems don't need to happen)
- the time to bring back services after a failure or issue is sometimes
  very long; partly for logistical reasons, but also due to lack of
  manpower or priority; progress or reasons _why_ it takes longer for
  some machines to be revived are not communicated to the community

So, basically my question remains: why does it have to be so incredibly 
difficult to allow new members into these teams?

Ah, before I forget. As to having paid members of these teams...
Why? IMO there are plenty of capable, trustworthy and motivated people to 
be found among our volunteers.
Also, I very much dislike the idea of Debian being dependent on a budget 
based on outside funding for execution of it's core and routine tasks. 
What happens if the IT industry hits another slump and the funding is 
I have no problem with development work being funded, but an organization 
that is founded on volunteers should be able to maintain its core 
infrastructure using those volunteers.

I also have huge problems with agreed upon infrastructural changes not 
being implemented until funding becomes available, unless there _first_
is an open call from help from other members of the volunteer community.


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