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Re: Candidate questions/musings

On Tue, Mar 23, 2004 at 09:59:24AM -0600, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
> On Tue, 23 Mar 2004 16:48:51 +1000, Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au> said: 

Oh, one thing I forgot in Bdale's term was the migration to postfix from
qmail for lists.debian.org.

> > Yes, it is. And Debian's response to that was unpleasant enough that
> > Bruce decided to leave two or three times.
> 	Hmm. You make it sound like the lack of people willing to give
>  up heir ideas of right and wrong to be herded like sheep is the
>  problem.  

No, the problem is that if you try to lead people you'll quickly get
someone accusing you of, eg, trying to herd them like sheep. Or otherwise
implying that you're a disrespectful fool, incapable of dealing with
people. Or not transparent enough. Or too busy with bureaucracy. Or
something else.

>  Traditionally, this is known as failure of leadershipt;

Yes, it's traditional to talk about "failures of leadership" in Debian.
How about we work out how to stop that happening, rather than just hoping
we don't run out of folks to crucify?

> > Seriously: you say you want to be lead; but are you willing to
> > follow?
> 	Speaking personally, only when I feel I have a worthy leader
>  to follow.  

Do you want worthy leaders to follow? If so, you (and the project
generally) are certainly doing _nothing_ to attract them.

> A leader needs have qualities that convince people that
> following him/her would be a good idea -- that would further whatever
> the followers are wont to do, and frequently, convince the followers
> that the leaders vision is better, even when it contradicts
> previously held notions of the "follower". For me, it is being able
> to trust the judgement of the leader better than my own, which
> requires a bit of a track record.

That'd be nice, except people don't do that: every issue is expected to
be justified on its own merits to every member of the project. That's
the underlying issue when people ask for "transparency" in processes.

> Winning an election is rarely enough to satisfy these criteria.

No, elections are meant to happen after you've found people you're willing
to let lead you; and to allow us all to choose a common direction to
travel in, in spite of having different destinations at the top of
our preferences.

(Consensus, likewise, is about choosing a direction that satisfies the
vast majority; it's not about mind-numbing unanimity, whatever your
dictionary says)

> > It's often said that people get involved in open source development
> > because of the reputation they can build up -- doing stuff as DPL
> > seems to result in nothing better than "nice, competent
> > guy". Motivating, no?
> 	One should realize that the OP's view on these people is far
>  from universal.

Since iwj, it's been a reoccurring comment that DPL's haven't done much
of anything.

  I found it interesting that Bdale speaks of communication in his
  platform because lack of communication and visibility in the project
  is the reason of my disappointment.

  However, [iwj] very quickly retreated into inactivity (or at least
  invisibility), which, in my opinion, swayed too far the other direction,
  making the project seem -- and perhaps feel, to some of our developers
  and users -- rudderless, or at the very least without a spokesman.
  I think it's very important to have a figurehead [...]

  Good riddance to the do-nothing. A bunch of PhDs don't mount up to a
  hill of beans if you don't do anything!

And in spite of us trying to be "the Universal Operating System",
there're very few opinions which are held universally. If we're going
to get anywhere, we need to work to resolve issues that we, personally,
might not see as problems.

That includes concerns about lack of leadership, it includes concerns
about sexism in Debian, and it includes concerns about unreasonable
conduct on mailing lists.

> > But you really don't need to look any further than the "non-free"
> > debate to find examples of people standing up for what they think's
> > right, and trying to lead the project in that direction, and being
> > shot down for being a bigot, a hypocrite, at odds with Debian's
> > purpose or whatever.
> 	A leader is not a dictator. A leader has to get people to
>  follow him -- if you do not have followers, well, I guess it is easy
>  to blame the followers.

No, a leader's not a dictator. Let's delve into this some more: I spent
a fair bit of time advocating what I thought was the appropriate course
of action on non-free. I prepared a resolution, and it even won the day.
For my involvement in this debate, I've been called a hypocrite [0],
told I've personally broken the fundamental compromises behind the social
contract [1], and told that I deserve to have the absolute worst assumed
of my motives [2].

Now, I don't believe I've attempted to dictate anything on this issue,
and I've spent a lot of effort trying to make sure that we can come
to a conclusion -- all the way from working through the voting system
changes needed to come to a conclusion on this issue. I think I have
managed to convince people to follow my lead on this particular issue,
and given the majority of participants in the vote indicated they agreed
with my preferred direction, I think it's fairly ludicrous to claim it's
a matter of blaming non-existant followers.

[0] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2004/debian-vote-200401/msg01914.html
[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2004/debian-vote-200403/msg00390.html
[2] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2003/debian-vote-200312/msg00055.html

> 	Were it not for you stupid people out there not willing to be
>  my followers, I would be the supreme  god-king out there.

Odd, I seem to recall explicitly pointing out that we need to protect
ourselves from blindly following stupid whims; and I seem to recall
explicitly listing some of the bad ideas Bruce had.

> > How, exactly?
> Someone who can convince most of us to trust their judgement?

Okay, so I seem to have done that.

>  Someone who can come up with ideas, visions, and solutions that
>  further the agendas of most people, enough so we go along with
>  tangential tasks? 

Think I've done that too.

>  Someone who inspires one, and motivates one to be
>  part of their vision, and pull our wieght as a part of his team? 

And you seem to have voted for the take on non-free I proposed, so you
seem to share at least one vision with me.

So why do you feel the need to accuse me of wanting to treat everyone
else in the project as sheep to be herded with a few whistles and some
well trained kelpies?

> > The "Bruce" lesson is a pretty easy one IMO: if we want to encourage
> > people to take leadership roles and actively develop and push
> > agendas to improve Debian then we need to make sure we don't have an
> > environment that makes leaders like that throw hissy fits and quit
> > the project.
> Ah. It was the environment, not the person. A leader can't
> always get handed things on a silver platter, you know.

If it were the person, we'd have simply found another to fill the same
role, without the same drawbacks. That we haven't indicates it's not the
person, but the environment.

> > AFAIK, I'm yet to see anyone willing to give up anything much in
> > order to change that though. See the "chicks in Debian" thread we
> > just had on this list, eg, which was pretty much used by every
> > single participant to advance their own agenda, rather than trying
> > to work out a single direction we can all choose.
> 	Perhaps there isn't a single direction we call all choose.

Then the people who can't accept what the majority choose for the
project need to create their own fork. That's fine, but I suspect you're
overestimating your own cantankerousness, let alone everyone else's.

In [3] you personally apologised for the project's aggressive response
to Helen Faulkner's suggestions. Are you, personally, willing to make
good on that apology and try to find a mutually acceptable outcome on
this issue without implying, eg, that people who disagree with you are
trying to be dictators? Would that not be a reasonable first step towards
ensuring you don't have cause to make a similar apology in the future?

[3] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2004/debian-vote-200403/msg00132.html


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

             Linux.conf.au 2004 -- Because we could.
           http://conf.linux.org.au/ -- Jan 12-17, 2004

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