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Re: Diversity statement for the Debian Project

On Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 02:28:58PM +0100, Francesca Ciceri wrote:
> a recent discussion [1] on Debian Women mailing list made me realize that
> the Debian Project, the *Universal* Operating System, doesn't have a
> diversity statement [2].
> Yet. :)

Heya, sorry for the delay, but I've followed with interest this
discussion. Many thanks to Francesca and the other Debian Women ML
participants for this proposal.

I'm very much in favor of having a diversity statement for the Debian

I concur with most of the very good reasons which have been mentioned in
this thread for having one, so I'll try hard not to inflict you
additional ones (OK, just a few :-P).  Also, I see no disadvantages in
having one: it is no additional regulation, procedure, of anything
such. It's just a, err, statement that --- within the realm of the
general Debian goals --- we welcome diversity. I don't even think we
need to bring the "universal OS" motto in the loop to justify diversity:
it just happens that the more diverse a community is, the more rich it
gets. A statement in that direction is a way to cherish and encourage
that richness.

Lurking this thread, I've the impression we could find consensus on such
a statement, as long as we keep it simple. The long list of "features"
we do not discriminate upon, in particular, seems to be contentious.
TBH, I don't find it particularly inspiring either, while the rest of
the text is. I also notice that other existing diversity statements in
FOSS have avoided the long list, still managing to be inspiring and
straight to the point. Maybe we could try without such a list?

Just another comment on the way to decide upon the statement: GR or
not. For those who care about formalities: I think the DPL is entitled
to emit such a statement under Constitution §5.1.4 ("Make any decision
for whom noone else has responsibility"). If I'll happen to be DPL when
this discussion ends, and if there will appear to be consensus on the
idea of having a diversity statement, I'll be happy to pick the least
contentious draft and help to finalize it.

More generally, I think there are a few arguments against using a GR to
publish such a statement:

- communication might have been a good reasons for GR a while ago; these
  days we're quite active and good at communicating Debian Project news
  to the world. We really don't need a GR just for that, I believe a
  press release would be as authoritative, at least for the outer world

- it opens all sort of bureaucratic-fetish questions like "what if we
  want to change the statement?", and I don't think we want to micro
  manage that and similar possibilities in the GR text

- if we roughly agree on going ahead with the statement on this list:
  why bother? We've better things to do with our collective time than
  voting, at least when it is avoidable

All in all, I think deciding on how to publish this is pretty easy.
Let's first take into account the remaining criticism and update the
text; which has to be done anyhow if we want to publish. The then-DPL
could then state when he/she is ready to publish, giving some time to
react. Those who strongly prefer a GR can then simply go ahead and
propose one, looking for seconds as usual. If the GR process starts, the
DPL will surely wait for its outcome; otherwise the statement can be
published under DPL auspices.

Hope this helps,
Stefano Zacchiroli     zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} . o .
Maître de conférences   ......   http://upsilon.cc/zack   ......   . . o
Debian Project Leader    .......   @zack on identi.ca   .......    o o o
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »

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