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Re: python-xlrd

On 6 February 2013 12:52, Sandro Tosi <sandro.tosi@gmail.com> wrote:
Yes I do: Thomas is set as the Maintainer (as opposed to the team
being the Maintainer), so your are more forced to ask Thomas first
given the huge changes you're planning to do: did you contact him (it
doesn't seem so from your email)? have you done that in a public
tracable way (pinging a bug, f.e.)? did you give him enough time to

I've just done some digging. I see no activity from Thomas B since 2009. Lintian is complaining about his packages [1], apart from two where people have managed non-maintainer/team uploads. Tomorrow, it will be two years since a bug was filed requesting a new version of python-xlrd [2]. I can't find him on the TU Berlin site, so it's likely that the e-mail address we're trying for him has expired. No new e-mail address is apparent.

No doubt he should have declared his packages orphaned before he left. But whether he got hit by a bus, or just lost interest in them, I'm not interested in blaming him. I have e-mailed the MIA team to start the 2-month process [3] that will probably end with his packages being orphaned. Of course, it's good to exercise due diligence, but the flip side is that technical changes which I hope would be uncontroversial have now taken a back seat to bureaucracy, because one man a few years ago declared himself 'the maintainer'.

It feels like a big enterprise which should have a pretty good bus factor has been artificially split into many small projects, each with a terrible bus factor. There are plenty of people who understand the packaging for something simple like this, and hundreds [4] of Debian developers that we trust to upload packages. But changing a package hinges on an individual maintainer, who could be busy, on holiday, uninterested, or deceased.

I suggest that we encourage packagers to make team maintainership the norm, and individual maintainership the exception, to avoid this kind of problem. This is in line with plenty of other open source projects, where people talk about not becoming a bottleneck or a single point of failure.

[1] http://lintian.debian.org/maintainer/thomasbl@pool.math.tu-berlin.de.html
[2] https://bugs.launchpad.net/debian/+source/python-xlrd/+bug/714632
[3] http://wiki.debian.org/qa.debian.org/MIATeam
[4] http://www.debian.org/devel/people

Best wishes,

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