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

On Wed, Mar 09, 2005 at 08:25:41AM +0000, Henning Makholm wrote:
> But if the mp3 mailtainers wanted to do that, couldn't they already do
> so? How do they need the blessing of the DPL? If you're not planning
> to _require_ anybody to collectivize, how will your being DPL make a
> difference in your example?

I try to find ways to do the things that i think need doing in Debian
already. I had hoped Martin (with his social science background)
would push these topics more and tried to help him (and he liked the
team idea, but stripped it down). I gave a talk ("Why Tetrinet is good for
Debian - or Debian as a social group") at Debconf3 about some the topics
addressed in my platform. I got heavily involved in DebConf organizing
and took it to a whole new level, to make it as fun and
rewarding for the attendees as possible. I helped to organize and attended
numerous small gatherings. I try to be friendly and helpful on
mailing lists and IRC channels. I work in small teams in Debian-Edu
and for Debconf organizing. For many years I lived what i preach.

But for some things a higher soap box is needed and I think the office
of DPL can provide it. Good change never was initiated by
bystanders. People tend to listen more to (Debian Project) leaders
then to Joe Six-pack. The outcome of the DPL vote this year will show
how interested the Debian developers are in improving the social make
up of the Project. (At this point I want to point out again that I
don't stop at the soft, fluffy (important) social stuff but actively
help with the technical problems as the release.)
> Perhaps I was being too rhetorically obscure here; apologies. What I
> really want to know is what the role of team leaders in the
> organization will be? Since you specifically mention that teams should
> have leaders, one would infer that there is _some_ design goal in
> having them.

The leadership style needs to be adapted to the state of the group. If
the group is mature and runs smoothly on its own he could keep as low
a profile as possible. If it is threatening to sink into chaos, he
should try to provide structure and help to calm things down. It is
very much common sense if you think about it a bit.

In the mp3player group the leader could have initiated all the neat
little steps I itemized: "Lets try to make it easier for people to
pick the right mp3player!", "I think it would be really neat if all
the mp3 players had translated docs and descriptions to coconut island
dialect!", "Yes, that meeting there would be cool.", "Say, you work at
microsoft, they have tons of money that they could spend on FOSS,
could you ask them?", "Lets go skinny dipping! AHHHHH!", "Will you
marry me?"... 
Or, if the people got the ideas themselfs, he could have helped along,
trying to do so himself or find others with better suited skills for
the task at hand and try to motivate those to help out.

> > If I gave you a number of hours per week now, what would you do?
> Vote for somebody else, presumably.


> I get the impression that you want Debian to work like a sort of
> extended family, being to us what having a life is to non-geeks. 

LOL. You don't need to feel at home and comfortable only with your
family. It is great to have friends for balance and auxiliary
relationships. Done right, Debian can provide that AND excellent
technical expertise, creating the Universal Operating system.
This is about making Debian a more fun framework to be in.

> We're creating an operating system that we want businesses and
> governments to use. We're deliberately opening ourselves to public
> scrutiny, to the point of conducting our most heated and sensitive
> internal discussions in public. 

Imagine how much more professional we would be if we did not call each
other names in the process.

In the mp3 team it should NOT become practice to not file bugs on a
team mates package because he is such a nice guy and you like him or
hold an embarrassing RC bug under wraps. In fact it will be easier to
reach technically excellent solutions if you can stop defending your
own (mp3player-)turf since you know that the other one is not out
to kill you. She might just want to help.

> I'm all for people collaborating on their Debian work, perhaps making
> friends, perhaps not. If it makes the process more fun and/or
> productive, then more power to all of us. 


> However, to have an official
> policy promoting the idea that we're just a bunch of online friends
> who happen to compile an operating system between ourselves - I'm not
> so keen on that. It would make us look closed and sectarian. It would
> also tend to detract people from contributing who cannot live up to
> the ideals of tightly-knit socializing.

Lets worry about that when we are half-way there. As i mentioned
earlier: we wont reach this stage quickly, it will take time. We will
get there step-wise and we can reevaluate the process as we go. Right
now we are far from it and any improvement towards that goal would be

> >> 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.
> That would, from my point of view, be even worse. Like many Debian
> developers, I am not a native speaker of English, and having to speak
> a foreign language over a voice-only medium makes me distinctly
> uncomfortable.

If you don't like it no one forces you. Don't do it before you feel
comfortable about it. 

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