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Re: Surveying new package maintainers about their experience of contributing to Debian

On Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 11:08 AM, Lucas Nussbaum <lucas@debian.org> wrote:

I feel that, as long-time contributors, we often lack a good view of how
hard new people find it to get involved in Debian. In order to better
identify blockers or difficulties that prospective contributors face
when trying to contribute to Debian, I would like to survey new package
maintainers, identified using [0] (thanks to Asheesh Laroia for fixing
the UDD upload-history gatherer!).

[0] http://udd.debian.org/cgi-bin/new-maintainers.cgi

I started drafting the mail below, and would welcome reviews, comments,
or additional ideas of questions. I plan to send the survey on 2013-07-19
12:00 (UTC).

(Note: I am not a DD, DM, or even plain old Debian contributor at this time.  I'm just a bystander in the peanut gallery.)

I realize the following is probably out of scope given your initial target goal (information that might aid new package maintainers), and much harder to determine / target _and_ perhaps / probably too much to try to accomplish given the short amount of time you have available (since you want to have at least some of this done by the time of the upcoming Debconf), but...

IIRC, Debian's official policy is that they welcome and seek out contributors and contributions of all types, not only or "merely" package development and maintenance.  IIRC also one can now be a DD without developing or uploading packages, or even having the capability to upload packages.  (If I'm mistaken about either of these things, I apologize.)

Now, I fully agree with the goals set out here as I understand them (to try to figure out ways to make it easier for people to get a start doing packaging and/or contributing to packaging).  However, I would not want you to overlook or (unintentionally) ignore the other ways people do and/or potentially might contribute to Debian, and/or overlook / (unintentionally) ignore the ways or reasons people might seek DD status without having any intention or even desire to do packaging / package maintenance.  I think you should seek to try to figure out ways to make it easier for people to get a start doing _other_, non-packaging, contributions to Debian as well, and/or to make it easier for them to gain non-uploading DD status if they so desire.

Now, the survey as I've seen it (both the original draft and draft 2 following Gregor Herrmann's comments) appears to be focused primarily if not exclusively on people doing packaging work.  And, as I've already noted, it might be too big a goal to try to address non-packaging work, at least at this moment and/or in this survey.  (And also you probably need to figure out what sorts of non-packaging contributions typically occur; different types of contribution might call for different surveys and/or at least different questions.)  It might spread the focus of the survey too thinly such that it is less helpful than it could potentially be.

However, I think it's important that you at least make formal acknowledgement of the fact that non-packaging contributions can and do occur and are valued and welcomed, and that you desire to figure out how to make it easier for newcomers to Debian to make these sorts of contributions too and that you intend to make efforts towards that end as well as you have time and energy to do so, even tho _this_ initial survey is focused on people doing packaging work.  (You might also ask people to make comments if they wish concerning any non-packaging contributions they might have made or attempted along with their packaging efforts, even tho that isn't the primary focus of _this_ survey, if only to see what you might find out and/or start to learn what other sorts of (potential) contributors might benefit from surveys of this sort.)

Thanks for giving me some of your time by reading this message.  I hope it's been of some use and/or interest to you.  Be well, do good things.


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