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Re: Let's Stop Getting Torn Apart by Disagreement: Concerns about the Technical Committee

Sam Hartman writes ("Re: Let's Stop Getting Torn Apart by Disagreement: Concerns about the Technical Committee"):
> I am discussing how we handle conflict because I hope we can do a better
> job of helping  people feel valued even when we do not agree with their
> technical positions.

You've perhaps heard me say this before, but I think the TC process
lacks structure and that if the TC set out the process more formally,
things might go less awry.  (And also it would involve less of an
investment of energy by all the partipants, particularly the
respondents to a complaint.)

One of the most toxic things that can happen in any kind of dispute is
for there not to be a clear understanding of what the rules are,
within which the dispute will be conducted.  Ie, who is allowed to do
and say what, and when.

When people disagree about the metarules, community disintegrates
because people feel that not only are their opponents disregarding
their needs, but they are also playing foul.

I know that some people disagree, but I think that the TC should take
on much more of the trappings of other formal dispute resolution
mechanisms that we find in wider society.  Particularly, the TC should
be more like a civil court or tribunal.

Courts are of course stressful, but I think that stress is usually the
result of the underlying dispute.  (Courts in some jurisdictions are
awful, too, of course, and I'm not suggesting we set up professional
advocates with a vested interest in prolonging and exacerbating

One big advantage of court-like formality is is that it provides
neutral (and possibly even constructive) ways to express and handle
the disagreement.  And of course it can avoid arguments over the
ground rules.

There are other models: mediation, perhaps.  But mediation is just
facilitated negotiation, and explicitly excludes the question of
justice or rightness.  What really matters for the outcome of
mediation is not who has the best arguments, but what are the parties'
"best alternatives to negotiation".

So the TC should formally adopt rules of procedure, saying how and
when issues should be brought to the TC, and how the TC will handle
them.  The rules should cover questions of when TC members should use
their ability to call for votes, and add amendments.  They should say
what interval is normally appropriate before asking the TC for help.
The rules will need to be bent on occasion, of course - but the rules
themselves should say who can grant permission to bend them.

The TC rules could also limit the email discussion, at least by
default - one of the most exhausting things about the TC right now is
the never-ending email threads.

It would also IMO be a good idea for the TC to explicitly adopt some
"form letters" that should be used in various circumstances.  If there
were a standard TC-approved text for the message saying "I feel
strongly enough about this, and you don't seem to agree, so I think I
will ask the TC for help soon" then that text could be made suitably
collegiate and refined over time, and there would be no arguments
about the tone of someone's email.

> I was not planning on discussing systemd again.

Thanks.  I don't think doing so is going to be illuminating.  It will
just reopen wounds.


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