[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Judging consensus at in-person meetings (was: Re: Bug#844431: Revised patch: Oppose)

[moving to -project; please drop CCs on follow-ups]

Hello Ximin,

Thank you for writing this.

On Mon, Aug 21 2017, Ximin Luo wrote:

> I don't think using the opportunity of in-person meetings to judge
> consensus is such a great thing. This has been a common theme recently
> cropping up in FOSS environments, pushed by certain groups and
> justified by the observations that "only strong opinions are visible
> [in email threads]". Much of the time, these groups overlap greatly
> with people that are used to doing things in a physical setting,
> including making decisions by judging crowd consensus.
> Debian is primarily an online organisation as Bill says, these are its
> roots, this is how it became so big, and this is where the vast
> majority of productive work is done. I think discrediting all of that
> simply because "some people are loud on mailing lists" is really
> short-sighted and distorted. [...]

Russ didn't discredit "all of that" -- he just pointed out that
/sometimes/, online discussions can obscure a consensus that is quite
obvious in person.

> Personally, and I'm sure many people are similar, I prefer to have
> long technical discussions like this in writing via email, and not
> face-to-face. I'm a very slow thinker, I don't make very good
> decisions in the fast-paced context of a normal physical
> conversation. If I sometimes seem like I do, it's usually only because
> I've thought about the problem beforehand and have my main points
> decided.
> Physical discussions encourage non-technical interactions - if you can
> pick the right words and presentation, you can make a crowd empathise
> with you for largely non-technical reasons. I don't think this is a
> good thing, we should recognise that this happens and not allow it to
> take over Debian's decision making processes.
> Online technical discussions are safer against these sorts of
> effects. [...]

Right, I agree that these effects could do a lot of damage to Debian.

In this case, the discussion /did/ occur online, in the bug.  Only two
things happened offline:

- some brainstorming of the patch I initially proposed
- the judgement that consensus existed

The first one of these is not itself part of the decision-making
process; my posting of the patch to the bug is.

The second was based on offline interactions, but it was a judgement of
a consensus that existed /before/ DebConf.  It wasn't that anyone used
non-technical interactions to /create/ the consensus.

> Indeed in this thread there were lots of good points brought up
> criticising the wording of this policy, that nobody thought about
> during physical discussions at DebConf (which I didn't participate in
> for these reasons).

I agree that online discussion was best for bringing out all these
points.  But bringing out those points was not about judging consensus.

Sean Whitton

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: PGP signature

Reply to: