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Are users of Debian software members of the Debian community?

On 9/14/2022 12:22 PM, Andrew M.A. Cater wrote:
> People of debian-user :)
> This thread does seem to be degenerating slightly into accusations and
> name-calling, justified or not. Without prejudice to anyone: please may
> I remind you that debian-user and all Debian lists and IRC channels are
> subject to the Debian Code of Conduct.
> It would be very much appreciated if disagreements could be resolved
> constructively and in a positive way. Ad hominem attacks don't help
> anyone here. Taking a breath / walking away from the keyboard for half
> a day might also help get a sense of perspective in any mailing list
> opinion difference. (And yes, I know about https://xkcd.com/386/ and
> the difficulty that brings).
> With every good wish, as ever,
> Andy Cater
> [For and on behalf of the Debian Community Team]

Thanks for this, Andy, I admit I did get caught up in behavior that appears
as trolling.

As you point out, the aforementioned thread only slightly has degenerated
and I think there are some useful discussions in it despite the problems.
One legitimate topic for discussion that arose in that thread is:

Are only Debian Developers with voting rights (DDs) considered to be members
of the Debian community, or are the users also members of the Debian community?

If Debian users are also members of the community, their opinion should be
valued, but what mechanism exists for the voice of Debian users to be heard in
the decisions that DDs make about the Debian Project? I ask this question
because AFAICT, the users have no formal voice at all in the decisions about
how the Debian Project is run. And this fact is perhaps why I am misunderstood
by some on debian-user. Debian-user seems to be dominated by the idea that
a mere user of Debian software should have no voice in the decisions, no matter
how great or how small that decision might be, that the Debian Project has to
face each day. For example, a little decision: a package maintainer decides
whether or not to respond to a bug report, and a big decision: the DDs vote
on resolutions to determine the level of support for non-default init systems.

I think Debian users should have some say, some voting power, some way
of influencing the direction of the Debian Project because in the end the
long-term success of the project depends on whether or not Debian software
is continues to be useful for its users over the long term. I think if over time
Debian becomes software that is only useful to the DDs and not to a large
pool of users around the world who are passionate about free software,
Debian would have failed in its mission of providing useful free software to
users around the world. The point of view of users, IMHO, needs more
representation in the official decisions and policies of Debian because it
seems to me that the importance of providing useful software for the
many users of Debian software is not sufficiently recognized on, of all
places, the mailing list for Debian users!

I offer this as food for though to see if the way Debian is governed can
be improved to ensure the legitimate voices of Debian users are heard. I
especially would be interested to hear practical suggestions for how a vote
of users on any particular issue could take place, what weight should be given
to the vote of the users relative to the vote of the DDs, how users could propose
that a change in Debian Policy be put up for a vote, and how to ensure only
true users of Debian vote on any particular proposal or in the election of the
DPL, etc.

I understand this idea cannot be implemented soon. But would it be wrong
for someone to propose the idea that Debian users should have a formal
voice in the decisions that the Debian Project needs to face on a daily basis?

N.B. I am not subscribed to debian-project, so if those who respond could Cc
me on replies, I would appreciate it. I also am not posting this to debian-user,
to which I am subscribed, to let the emotions die down there a bit and in
recognition of the fact that debian-user is probably not the best place to post
this question at this time.

Best regards,


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