soc-ctte discussion at DebConf7 [was Re: Social committee proposal]
On Fri, Jun 08, 2007 at 10:42:52PM +0200, Josip Rodin wrote:
> > Well, I don't think it is the best idea to discuss those issues
> > via mail. I just hope that many people will join
> > https://penta.debconf.org/~joerg/events/93.en.html
> > which I registered for an open discussion about this topic.
> I don't see why f2f discussion about this is necessarily better than
> a list discussion. We want to find a way to get along better in list
> discussions, but the way of finding that isn't via list discussions...
> you see where that is going :)
So, anyway, the discussion was had :) it was moved from the afternoon to
the morning, and not many people joined until later in the term, but still,
in the end it was a decent turnout, could be two dozen people.
Ian said he'll send over his notes, but I'm impatient so I'll have a go :)
I was happy to note that there wasn't really any discussion as to whether
there should be such a thing - the implicit consensus was that we do need
something, it's just that we need to figure out exactly what and how.
Sadly, the discussion ended somewhat prematurely, as there was something
else scheduled immediately afterwards in the same room, so we had to wrap
it up before everything was hashed out.
The issues that were touched included:
* The scope and jurisdiction of soc-ctte:
* We seemed to come to a consensus that soc-ctte and tech-ctte should not
be placed in a position where one is subordinate to the other, rather
jurisdictional disputes should be resolved by the leader
* Jurisdictional disputes should not be allowed to continue ad nauseam,
and the committees should not defer to each other to prevent any sort
of a ping-pong
* In case a complainant disagrees with the leader's decision on the
jurisdiction of the dispute, the method of resolution (escalation)
is a General Resolution vote
* The soc-ctte should not be used as any sort of a vehicle for other
possibly desired changes in Debian governance in general (things that
were discussed in several other panels at DebConf7), and that it should
be a solution only to the social matters, which are a sufficiently huge
and blurry area on their own :)
* The initial social committee will have to combine two aspects - one is
the need to have a body that would judge on disputes (this would be the
committee as such), and the other is the need to have people who can
communicate with some authority in order to resolve social matters
(this would be a 'social team' or something)
* The communication of soc-ctte members with people about their behaviour
which might eventually become a matter of committee deliberation should
be kept reasonably private, to prevent unnecessary escalation
* The extent of soc-ctte powers:
* We seemed to agree that soc-ctte should have the ability to make access
control decisions in general, as described by Ian, so that while it
would be a soft-speaking body, it could also have a big stick to carry
while doing so :)
* The phrasing of the access control power should be subtle enough to
avoid the pitfall of people complaining to the soc-ctte regarding
political decisions such as who has commit access to a VCS repository,
because there the distinction between 'political', 'technical' and
'social' can be blurry, which might cause problems, and nobody really
had an answer for that
* soc-ctte should be authorised to discuss matters such as the expelling
of a developer for anti-social behaviour or such, and be able to make
an official recommendation to the same effect to the account managers
(but this would not be a final decision, it would be overridable by
* The establishment and composition of the actual soc-ctte:
* We seemed to agree that a leader's delegation would be a useful tool to
bootstrap the soc-ctte and modify it later (even though it's unclear
whether the constitutional barrier to leader messing with the delegates
would apply), as opposed to the inclusion in the constitution which
would delay the process and make it less modifiable later - a proposed
compromise solution is that a general resolution vote should be held,
one that would make a formal statement establishing soc-ctte, in order
to give the idea full-blown credibility
* The consensus was that the members of the initial soc-ctte all should
be voted upon, possibly together with the vote on the establishment,
depending on the secretary - Manoj, please feel free to interject here :)
* Someone proposed that the leader makes the initial list of members which
would then be voted upon, not sure; I would maintain my position that
people should be nominating themselves, rather than the leader naming
them - I don't believe we clarified this point
* The consensus on later changes to the committee was that it should not
be done often in general, though we did disagree somewhat regarding the
method of accomplishing that goal. I had previously proposed that normal
elections be held every two years; Ian had previously proposed that the
initial soc-ctte varies its own size and membership.
Observations on the matter included one generally agreed-upon idea -
that members of soc-ctte should be able to be recalled by the developers
by some other method other than an ad-hoc GR vote just for that purpose.
The opposition to the idea of normal elections is that it would require
campaigning for re-election, even if that just meant spelling out what
was done, because of the private aspect of the relevant work; and also
because a year or two years might not be a sufficient sample to consider
someone's work on the committee.
The opposition to the idea of not having any vetting of candidates was
that there would be no accountability, no way to remove people who are
perceived to be bad, or inactive.
Proposal to address this was to have yearly approval voting of soc-ctte
members, whereby the developers would be able to tick off a particular
member and remove them that way. It wasn't particularly clear what would
be done after that (mostly by time constraints during the
discussion...); how much non-approval would the members have to get in
order to get removed; whether the removed members would have to be
replaced, when and how would the replacement be done (appointment by
leader? and then voting?). It was also proposed that only one half of
the committee members go up for this kind of an approval vote each year.
I think that covers most of it, but maybe I forgot something.
Corrections and comments are welcome, obviously...
2. That which causes joy or happiness.