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Re: Debating difficult development issues in essay form

On Fri, May 10, 2013 at 11:19:08AM +0200, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> Question: there are various overlaps from this proposal and DEPs
> ( http://dep.debian.net/ ). Not only in some of the explicit goals you
> state (e.g. documenting the state of discussions), but also in the fact
> that other FOSS communities out there are using DEP-like solutions to
> address the "debating difficulty". Given that Lars has been one of the
> main proponents of DEPs, I suspect you have put quite some thought on
> the relationships of the two approaches. Can you share with us what you
> think are the pro/con of this wrt DEPs?

I haven't, actually, spent a lot of time thinking about the relationship
between viewpoint essays and DEPs, but here's what I currently think:
a DEP is good when there is a reasonably clear goal and there's a rough
consensus on the goal, but you need to work out the details and plan
and track the work to achieve the goal. For example, the goal might be
"make Jessie provide a backup service for desktop users out of the box",
and the DEP can be used to scope and plan the work to achieve that.

A set of viewpoint essays, on the other hand, are, I think, a way to keep
track of a discussion as the rough consensus is formed. We can't have,
say, a DEP on "make $INITSYSTEM the default init system in jessie",
since there is no consensus at all on which init system that would be.
Tracking that discussion, and perhaps making it calmer and more rational,
with fewer emotional reactions, by having the various sides write essays
instead of writing rapid-fire e-mails, is what the essay initiative is

So essays and DEPs should complement each other fairly well.

> About this, it's not clear to me if you actually encourage sign-offs
> from people other than the original authors or not.

I have no strong opinion on it. I'm happy to see what happens and let
people work out that kind of detail themselves.

> > * Publish the document on as a subpage of the topic page
> >   in the wiki. Add a link to the subpage from the topic page.
> Technical hint: subpages syntax in Moin can be quite frustrating,
> especially for those who do not often edit Moin pages. It might be
> useful to have some sample (dangling) links for subpages pointing to
> alternative positions directly in the page template.
> (Of course I can implement the above changes myself in the wiki, but
> first I need to know if you agree with them or not :-))

Please do that. I obviously failed to do it with the current wiki setup
(the release essay is not a subpage of the Debate page, for example).

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