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Re: Learning from FreeBSD's mistakes

On 06/02/17 11:18, Ian Jackson wrote:

> I hope we do much better than FreeBSD in our response to harassment.

I have been meaning to write about this for a long time, then I was
going to join this discussion and postponed it. But now thinking about
the DPL candidates' platforms, I came back to this topic.

I think we are much better than what we used to be. Maybe we are doing
better than FreeBSD. But we are deluding ourselves if we think that
Debian is always a fun or welcoming place to be.

There are many ways in which project contributors can make you feel
miserable without violating any of our written rules. And we are very
ill equipped to deal with that. We lack mechanisms to tell somebody that
their behaviour is harmful, much less to force them to stop.

There are social *and* technical issues that can degrade your experience
as a Debian contributor to the point of draining all you energy and
motivation away. And I don't see that we are making any progress on this.

On the technical side, we have people doing mediocre to terrible jobs.
In an ideal world, they will learn and correct their ways when their
peers give thembad feedback, but others will just ignore the community
around them.
We have some safeguards against this, but DDs are mostly free to do
whatever, except when going through NEW. This affects the distribution
as a whole, but more importantly, affects other people trying to do a
good job.

This becomes much worse if you are forced to interact with them, because
there are mutual dependencies, or your packages are highly connected in
some way. Then social problems get added to the technical ones.
Packaging teams can be great, but are also where people with abusive
behaviours do the most damage.

Personally, I have many times considered resigning from a packaging team
because of one member behaving like an arsehole. In the end, I managed
to stay put and keep working, because I was really motivated by my packages.

But how many other people just quit for their own sanity? What message
are we giving to the newcomers when they see that these attitudes are
not stopped?

If somebody repeatedly is:

* performing a substandard job that affects you directly or indirectly,
* ignoring team practices, or flat-out moving packages out of the team
to avoid team policies,
* performing uncoordinated uploads that break reverse dependencies,
* deciding that they don't like your git packaging style and overwriting it,
* when criticised argue that they don't have time for your complaints
because they do so much packaging work, etc.

What do you do? None of these are enough to invoke DAM or the harassment
team. You could expel them from the team, but then you need to take
extra technical steps to avoid further damage which will also affect
your team in other ways, and the costs become too high.

This is much worse if said person and their packages are not in a team.
Then your only recourse is CTTE. We don't have social solutions for
these social problems.

This is but only one example, I have heard other first hand accounts of
similar situations. We are not doing much to fix this, or even
acknowledge it, and I think we should.

Martín Ferrari (Tincho)

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