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Re: Debian-EM Joint Committee

Raul Miller wrote:

>On Mon, Dec 18, 2000 at 03:41:21PM -0600, Norman Petry wrote:
>> ... we have formed a joint committee to develop a proposal, which we
>> will probably present to Debian for internal discussion in about a
>> month's time (I'm just guessing on the timeframe; we haven't discussed
>> this).
>This looks pretty good, overall.  A month is an awful long time for us
>to wait, however -- we're already a couple levels down in indirection,
>postponing one issue to handle another.

Please don't postpone important decisions waiting for the results of this
committee work!  I don't see anything in the existing constitution that is
an insurmountable obstacle to making important decisions *now*.  The current
rules have always worked fine in the past (and they're still vastly better
than what most organisations have to work with).  Sure, there is a remote
chance that you'd hit one of the 'bugs' we've found in those rules, but I
think the likelihood of that happening within the next few months is very

With regard to the committee's proposal, I'd prefer to carry out a thorough
review, and come up with a really good recommendation.  For this to happen
the committee members need to spend whatever time is required to get things
*right*, without worrying about the possibility that we might be delaying
internal decisions.

In fact, the reason we waited so long in putting together this committee is
because we wanted to see the 'remove non-free' issue resolved *under the
existing rules* before suggesting constitutional fixes.  Steve Greenland,
Mike Ossipoff, Rob Lanphier and I actually talked about forming this
committee back in June, but postponed the work because we were concerned
that the non-free issue and our proposal for a constitutional amendment
would become entangled in the minds of voters.  The two are completely
unrelated, and we wanted the developers to be able to consider the
constitutional issues dispassionately, and not suspect ulterior motives in
the proposed changes.  Unfortunately, those decisions never got made, and
all the recent discussion of voting systems on debian-vote forced us to get
moving on this.  I *still* think it would be better for Debian to deal with
its important internal issues now, and then deal with the constitutional
issues in a careful, measured way later -- they're not short-term problems,
and therefore DON'T require short-term solutions.

>Is it possible to split your proposal into two pieces, so that we can
>get around to modifying the constitution to explicitly state how to
>deal with DFSG requirements a bit sooner?  You've got some open-ended
>questions in there, and not everything is relevant to the DFSG issue.

True.  Some of the issues in that list are trivial, some are controversial,
some are important.  Some of the more controversial proposed changes will
probably get tossed out by the committee in order to devise a more winnable
proposal.  It is also possible that more than one proposal will come out of
the work of the committee.

Oh, and I hope that *none* of what we'll be discussing is directly relevant
to the dfsg issue.  That's one of those urgent internal matters that's not
related to the decision-making process, and therefore is outside the scope
of the committee's work.  I'd hope that the question of authority to amend
the dfsg would be dealt with separately, now, under the existing rules
(Isn't that what Manoj's and Branden's proposals are attempting to do?)

>Also, while it's great that you have formed a separate group to keep the
>traffic off of debian-vote (I'm kind of embarrassed about the volume I
>had a part in), I think it would be very appropriate for you to keep us
>updated (maybe once a week) about your progress:

This is a good idea.  Now that you've joined this committee, perhaps you'd
be interested in writing these status reports for debian-vote :)

>[1] It would allow feedback from people who don't have time to get
>heavily into the discussion, and
>[2] It would help keep the discussion live, so we don't have to worry
>about official timeouts from lack of discussion.

I don't think 'official timeouts' apply at all to the work of this ad-hoc
committee (which is not internal to Debian, or official in any way).
Officially, discussion won't even *begin* until the work of our committee is
complete, and our recommendations are sponsored by the required number of
developers.  Then, the *internal* process of discussion, amendment,
counterproposals, flamewars, etc. will begin (or perhaps not) and you can
begin watching for timeouts.

Norm Petry

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