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Re: On terminology

Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org> writes:

> Ben Finney <ben+debian@benfinney.id.au> writes:
> > Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org> writes:
> >> And in the process, PLEASE rename Debian Maintainer to something
> >> that isn't completely confusing given the existence of a Maintainer
> >> field in all of our packages
> > Isn't the very point of the Debian Maintainer role that it more
> > precisely does meet the definition of the role identified by that
> > field?
> No, you can be a package maintainer without being a Debian Maintainer
> or a Debian Developer. Many people are.

Yes. I was referring to the purpose of introducing that role,
contrasting “Debian Developer” with “Debian Maintainer”; that is, the
latter is more tightly focussed on being a package maintainer than the


* Package Maintainer can be anyone

* Debian Maintainer can do anything the above can do, but is also a
  member of the Debian project (i.e. “a Package Maintainer within the
  Debian project”)

* Debian Developer can do anything the above can do, but also has a raft
  of extra powers (i.e. “a Debian Maintainer who can develop Debian as a

It seems to me that the Debian Maintainer role is clearly focussed on
granting the minimum needed to be a maintainer within the Debian
project, as opposed to a maintainer not within the Debian project. So I
don't see your case for wanting to change that term.

> > So Russ, what do you think “maintainer” should mean in Debian,
> The wording I proposed for #459868 sums that up:
>     The maintainer is responsible for maintaining the Debian packaging
>     files, evaluating and responding appropriately to reported bugs,
>     uploading new versions of the package, ensuring that the package is
>     placed in the appropriate archive area and included in Debian releases
>     as appropriate for the stability and utility of the package, and
>     requesting removal of the package from the Debian distribution if it
>     is no longer useful or maintainable.

Okay. It seems, then, that this is the common subset of both Debian
Maintainers and non-Debian Maintainers. So I would think using the term
“Maintainer” in the name for both roles would make the most sense; that
way the distinguishing factor is the part that changes.

> One need not be a Debian Maintainer to be a maintainer

Right; so I'd suggest calling that role “Package Maintainer” or the
like, to distinguish it from someone in the Debian project keyring.

> and not all Debian Maintainers are maintainers

That last one is new to me. What's the point of becoming a Debian
Maintainer if not to maintain one or more packages in Debian?

> A Debian Maintainer is someone who can be given upload rights for
> specific packages. They may not yet have been given any of those
> rights, or they may use them only as co-maintainers rather than as the
> designated package maintainer (possibly meaning that they intend to
> assume some of those responsibilities but not all of them). We should
> use some other term for that.

If you mean only that such a person may not *yet* be maintainer of a
particular package, that doesn't seem sufficient to say the title
“Debian Maintainer” doesn't apply. I'd interpret the title as describing
the intended role, and if the person hasn't yet executed that role, the
title itself still applies.

I think the role titles are actually pretty good as they are, and it's
the documentation that needs to be updated to match the new definitions
we're now using for those titles. But that should only be done if and
when there's consensus on what the titles now mean.

 \       “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them |
  `\    to do to their fellows, because it always coincides with their |
_o__)                      own desires.” —Susan Brownell Anthony, 1896 |
Ben Finney

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