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Re: Q for Andreas Schuldei: "Small teams"??

On Tue, Mar 08, 2005 at 12:13:27PM +0000, Henning Makholm wrote:
> You are invited to clarify on the "small teams" section of your
> platform. At first I thought it was just saying that infrastructural
> work for the project should be done in teams rather than by single
> delegates, but a closer reasing seems to suggest that you want to
> divide the entire developerdom into "small teams".

I wont attempt to force or push such a move. I will encourage
people to reorganize themselfs on their own. 

> What would be the role of such teams? Exactly what do you imagine
> would happen in them? Whill each team have a collective task or do you
> envisage it as a purely social institution?

They will be both: a work team and place to have fun. 

Let me give an example: Right now we have n maintainers having mp3
players in the archive. They decide to form a group to improve the
mp3-player situation in Debian. Since they can read mail and some do
IRC and IM, they decide to use all those available media to
communicate. They create an Alioth mailing list and a
#debian-mp3-player channel on irc.debian.org. They notice that it is
not really easy to tell which mp3 player is best for people's needs by
looking at their packages' descriptions. They try to fix that. Someone
notices that his mp3 player sucks in comparison to the n-1 others, but
that his way to package it rules. He drops his player and offers
others to help with their library and package handling. Someone else
has a hard time with English (since he is from the coconut islands)
but feels the i18n of the other mp3 players lacks support for the
coconut island dialect and the others let him translate their
packages. When one of the developers gets triplets his time for Debian
is drastically reduced. He has to quit. The others in the team adopt
his mp3 player collectively.

Because they all thought that was great fun they decide to do a
mp3-player developer gathering on the coconut islands. One on the
team, employed by microsoft, gets funding for the needy and they all
have a lot of fun skinny dipping there. 

When a person interested in Debian development and mp3 players comes
along he finds this team, hangs out on their IRC channel from time to
time and asks questions about mp3 encoding and what player can
interface best with his headphones. He notices the friendly atmosphere
on the channel and wonders if he could perhaps join in and help out.


As a result, these mp3 player maintainers perceive Debian as a better
and more friendly place. They are less likely to leave out of the
blue. You get the picture, don't you? For more features of small teams
check my platform.

More real live examples are debian-edu or debian-installer. The people
are more real and the problems different, but the general mechanics apply.

> If you get elected and carry out your "small teams" plan, will the
> members of the team I get assigned to

You wont be assigned to a team. You look for one that makes sense and
that consists of people you could imagine to enjoy to work with. If
you have ideas about what would make sense, do take the initiative and
ask others to form one.

> automatically become co-maintainers of my packages?

If you feel compfortable with that and want it, it could help.

> Conversely, will I become morally responsible for bugs in theirs

You can offer help if you want to and have time.

> Will I be supposed to "stand up" for members of my team that get
> involved in flamewars? 

You could tell your team members to stay out of flamewars.

> Will the flamewars I choose to engage in taint
> other people's attitude towards my presumably innocent teammates?

You should try to stay away from flamewars yourself.

> Will anybody ever, in any context, get told: "You will have to route
> that request through your team leader"?

I bet that at some point someone will say that to someone. It is not a
design goal, though.

> How large a fraction of their available Debian time will you expect
> volunteers to spend on "discussing TV-series, politics or football,
> finding friends or falling in love" instead of on creating a free
> operating system?

If I gave you a number of hours per week now, what would you do? The
goal is to feel at home and comfortable, not make forced
small talk. This will take time, just as any normal group that comes
together. The more intense you want it to be the more time you need to
invest. If you notice that you just don't fit in there, you should
not stay and suffer but try to find a better group. It is a gradual
thing that won't work out of the box. It will take some effort but it
will be rewarding and good for both you and Debian in the long run.

> Will people who cannot meet your requirements for teams (say, because
> they prefer to avoid IRC which is a stupendous time sink) be able to
> contribute to the project in your model?

Any medium is possible. If it is more interactive it would be
better. Try Voice over IP or phone if you want. Getting to know people
will take time, regardless of the medium. But opposite to popular
believes even geeks are social and enjoy company.

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