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Re: Debian companies group

hi michael.

tldnr: what sorts of transactions are supposed to take place on the
closed debian-companies list? how will their secret-from-users nature
empower users?  how will their secret-from-project-members empower the
debian project?

On Mon, 2 Sep 2013, Michael Meskes wrote:


as you may or may not know there has been talk about starting a
communiy of companies around Debian. I'd like to get things moving
now and I believe the DPL agrees.

i find your use of the term 'community' here curious.  i accept that
companies depend on a certain kind of environment, and that such an
environment is sufficiently similar to an ecosystem to justify the use
of some biological metaphors.

but biology is not society, and i balk at the idea of a *community*
that consists solely of companies.  it smells like marketing, designed
to humanise is not human, with a social metaphor.

i believe it is an dangerous exercise in self-delusion to imagine that
a group of companies, alone, constitutes a community.

Let me start by answering a few questions:

Companies (may) have different needs and different ideas about what
they want from Debian than other groups that have already been

with the caveat that the 'ideas' and 'needs' of companies are in many
import3Bant ways not comparable to the kind that you and i have, i
accept this.

but it is my understanding that debian is committed to serving the
interests of *users*.  in particular, and exclusively, human users.

google, though it may well deploy debian somewhere (i would not know),
cannot be a user.

this is my understanding.  i expect i am not alone in this
understanding.  (but perhaps i am not unopposed in it?)

there might be benefits to be obtained, for the debian project and its
users, by enabling companies to achieve certain goals.

but let us not be confused by humanising tweaks to the rhetoric.
companies are not people, are not users, and the debian manifesto is
not about their needs.

debian serves companies, if it does, *because* it serves users.  i
understand that this, and not the other way around, is its founding

Should we later find out that this assumption was wrong, the group
can simply be merged with other groups.

There is a mailing list that I'd like to use for first
discussions. These discussions should also help defining the role of
this group.

well, this part certainly sounds open...

The mailing list right now is not public,

...and this is decidedly not.  curiously.

i have reviewed the bug report here...


...and i have followed the present thread with interest.  what i have
looked for, and not found, is a characterisation of what sorts of
transactions are supposed will occur on the list.

here are three points in the bugthread where i expected, but did not
find, satisfaction:

[begin bugthread excerpts]

(1) Michael Meskes posted in the bugthread:
I think there are very good reasons to start with a closed list to
at least get a discussion going as to where this group is going to
evolve to. I honestly doubt any company will be willing to talk
strategy or existing relationships on a public list.

is this the kind of thing the list would be used for?  perhaps that is
not what you meant to imply?

but in fact if it was, how is it in the interest of users, for the
debian project to collude in the concealment of companies'
relationships from users?

and am i to understand that companies *would* nonetheless discuss such
things on a mailing list open to an entire class of competitors?

could you elaborate on this, to help me understand?

(2) Michael Meskes posted in the bugthread:
Just imagine a company learning about a big potential migration
towards Debian in an enterprise environment and wanting to discuss
with others how they can help to get the deal. Do you think anyone
would do this in public?

would it be wise to hold such a discussion on a mailing list open,
again, to an entire class of competitors?

i find this difficult to believe.

(3) Michael Meskes posted, in the bugthread:
I don't think we're talking about creating a company-backed
distribution or some sort of that. We're trying to tackle the
problem that Debian is not well enough accepted by enterprise users
to be deployed in their data centers. The list is not about the
companies changing stuff in Debian, it's more about somehow forming
a business community around Debian.

if a company's resistance to deploying debian is misguided, why not
crowd-source the arguments, on an open list?

you know, the way a *community* does?

[end bugthread excerpts]

without such explanation, i find it impossible to understand why the
mailing list archives should be closed to non-subscribers, or why its
membership should be restricted.

in another branch of the present thread, concrete mention was made of
extended (paid) security support, as a possible topic of discussion.
sounds like a good topic, but hardly one whose fruitful discussion
requires a closed mailing list.

all i can find are nebulous hints that companies may exchange certain
information in confidence that they would not exchange in public view.
surely this is true.

however, what value these secret-from-debian's-users exchanges might
hold for debian's users, i cannot tell from what has been said so far.

furthermore, just how many of these confidential exchanges would be
appropriately conducted on a mailing list to which an entire class of
companies belong?  surely most exchanges requiring privacy, if indeed
privacy is important, would be better conducted on some channel yet
more private than a mailing list open to an entire class of

the list, under the proposed restrictions, is closed not to
competitors, but to *users* and many (or most?) project members.  i am
puzzled how this is supposed to nonetheless benefit users, or the
debian project.

[How, continued]
...but [the list's private nature] can be changed if the group
decides to. For the time being I like to keep it closed to help the
initial discussion. Some of the ideas or memberships may not be ripe
to go public yet.

Does this secrecy-from-users empower users?  Does this
secrecy-from-members empower project members?

A companies community should only contain companies.

what kind of community contains only companies?  such a thing does not
warrant the term 'community'.  i worked for too long in a marketing
department to swallow this metaphor.

what is apparently meant, here, is 'this is to be a venue exclusively
for companies, and so only companies shall belong'.

i understand the proposition, but i find it a poor argument.

i do not wish to gratuitously piss in your cheerios, so to speak.  i
would, however, like more detail on the nature of the list in question
to be forthcoming.  i assume that you will agree with me that the open
nature of the debian project is unique, and priceless, and that
deviations from that mode must receive all due scrutiny.

thank you for your consideration,

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