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Re: Bits from the DPL For December 2019

>>>>> "Wouter" == Wouter Verhelst <wouter@debian.org> writes:
    >> First, in matters of behavior, the meta issues can explicitly create
    >> situations where people do not feel welcome.
    >> We had a thread in December where people argued that using people's
    >> pronouns was optional.  As a community we needed to send a strong
    >> message that was unacceptable.  We got feedback from trans members of
    >> our community--the same people we're trying to protect--that the side
    >> discussions diluted that message of support.

    Wouter> I don't see it that way.

    Wouter> What I saw in that thread was people going off on a tangent. One person
    Wouter> said "don't do this". Another person said "I can do this because X".
    Wouter> Another person said "you can't do this, because Y". After three emails
    Wouter> of doing that you end up with a discussion that isn't about the original
    Wouter> point being made anymore, and I agree that such cases are not helpful.

    Wouter> However, such side discussions are not meta-discussions.

Okay, so you disagree with my terminology.  I'm more focused on the harm
of the things you call tangents.  but I guess we're now having a meta
discussion about what words mean so we can go back to having our
discussion.  For myself, I'd rather focus on the effects and let other
people decide on the terminology.
It sounds like we have agreement that there are some direction shifts
that are harmful and could be separated and improve the community.
I absolutely agree we'll need to figure out when it is helpful to do
that and when it is harmful.
And choosing terminology should be part of that.


    >> However, deescalation is something you can get better at through
    >> practice, study and investigation of techniques.
    >> It's something that benefits from training and focus.
    >> Thus it is something that benefits from having a group of people who
    >> commit to spend time on the problem.
    >> It probably benefits from the project committing money to help train
    >> those people.
    >> As such, I do think a team is essential.
    >> I appreciate your reminder that eventually this is something that we can
    >> all focus on and that any team should be leading by example and
    >> fostering community wide change.

    Wouter> OK, I see now where you're coming from. I guess that *could* work,
    Wouter> although it's certainly not the approach that I would take.

What approach would you take?
My hope  is to improve Debian's ability to deescalate, and to do so
sooner rather than later.
    >> I think [escalations when we ask people to hold or split their
    tangents]  will happen.
    >> And so, I think that when we work with people to split off the meta
    >> issues, we will need to actively work to deescalate the situation.
    >> I think that splitting off the meta issues is necessary to reduce the
    >> impact of even greater escalations that routinely make Debian a deeply
    >> frustrating and painful place to work.

    Wouter> So, I don't think Debian is "routinely [...] a deeply frustrating and
    Wouter> painful place to work". We have our disagreements from time to time, but
    Wouter> we do have ways of resolving them, even though some of those ways are
    Wouter> rather hardhanded.

We disagree then.
I love Debian.
I invest a lot of myself here.
But there are times where I don't feel respected or valued or treated in
ways that are at all reasonable.  That's true in technical discussions
as well as community discussions.
I stick around because I hope we can improve and because I believe there
are a number of people committed to improving.

People don't bring up issues because they believe the cost of discussing
them is too high and painful.
So, no, we don't hear all sides.
We hear the sides from the people who are willing to face the pain of
our processes.
I know that we don't hear all sides because I've listened when people
have talked about times when they chose not to engage (both on-list and
in private).

I hear that you perceive things differently; I'm glad that you don't
face some of the negatives I do in Debian.

Again, I want to stress that Debian is something I value greatly,.  I do
recognize the positive aspects of our community, and I'm glad to be

    Wouter> It seems to me like what you're advocating here is to avoid conflict and
    Wouter> disagreement. I don't think that's the right thing to do.

    Wouter> Do correct me if I'm wrong, though ;-)

No, not at all.
I actually have been creating more conflict during my term as DPL, and I
think that trend needs to continue.

Together we explored several tools for making decisions.  We used
consensus for the DH and Git discussions.  I facilitated those
discussions, but we've seen other developers start refining and
exploring those techniques in other contexts.

We just got done using a facilitated  GR process to make a decision
where consensus was impossible.

We've demonstrated that the people who claim Debian cannot make
decisions are *wrong*.  I'm really happy the project has been able to do
that; I'm proud of my role in facilitating that.

But oh, the cost!  We've generated more conflict.

If from where you sit, the pain and cost of that conflict isn't high,
perhaps this is not a big deal.

>From my viewpoint, the cost and pain of that conflict is high.
If we're going to continue this trend--continue to actually work on
long-standing issues, make decisions, and move forward, we will have
more conflict.
For those of us who are feeling this as painful, we're going to need to
get better at deescalating and healing for this to be healthy.

I would be disappointed to learn that yes, Debian *can* make decisions
and resolve issues, but that the price of doing so is too high, and
stagnation is preferable.
Without better skills at healing and deescalation, I think we may reach
that conclusion.


    Wouter> But being told that the real issues you're trying to bring to the
    Wouter> discussion are non-issues for the original poster and that therefore
    Wouter> you're wrong for even trying to bring them up, can be extremely
    Wouter> distressing and demotivating. I've had that happen to me a few times
    Wouter> over the past year, and I think it has contributed to my being less
    Wouter> involved in discussions in Debian.

I agree.
I'd rather us help people figure out appropriate ways and places for
bringing up concerns.

I don't think there are any concerns that are wrong to want to bring up.
There are some concerns that are out of scope for Debian.
As an example it's basically off topic to talk about replacing Linux
with the Windows kernel, at least unless Microsoft makes that free

    Wouter> -- 
    Wouter> To the thief who stole my anti-depressants: I hope you're happy

    Wouter> -- seen somewhere on the Internet on a photo of a billboard

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