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Re: Questions for the DPL candidates

Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au> wrote:
> Matthew Garrett wrote:
>> I think this is interesting from a social point of view. Would
>> increasing the number of teams inside the project increase the number of
>> incidents like this? If so, would people become more or less tolerant of
>> them?
> I'm not sure I've seen any evidence of people becoming more tolerant, 
> just because things happen more often. I'd be more inclined to expect 
> the opposite, really. Especially if the complaints are focussed on the 
> process rather than the outcomes; since that can't be mitigated by good 
> results down the track.

Right. That's kind of worrying - if we had a move towards a larger
number of teams, do we risk spending more time arguing over the
conclusions that these teams have reached? (Not really directed at you,
but it's something that bothers me a bit)

> What clearer communication do you expect? Should we replace Steve with 
> someone who has a more gilded tongue? I mean, the whole "clearer 
> communication!" line is great, but we spent a week trying to make that 
> as clear as possible, and apparently it's still "the worst possible way 
> to announce it" or so.

It's much easier to argue against conclusions if there's no
justification. It's also much easier to jump to conclusions about /why/
those conclusions have been reached. In this case, a description of the
decision making process would have been likely to focus discussion on
the issues the proposal aims to address, rather than simply criticism of
the conclusions.

(We'd still have had the anti-cabal flames, of course, but that's fairly
unrelated to the post-meeting announcement)

>> Absolutely. I'm heartened to see that amongst the flaming, there /is/
>> solid technical discussion going on. We do have problems, and this is
>> (so far) the best proposal we've had for dealing with them. I just wish
>> it had been reached somewhat differently.
> So, how would you have made that happen, had you been in say Martin's 
> shoes (which, at least as far as access to information you pretty much 
> were), or in mine with added Supa-DPL Powahs (ie, at the meeting, and 
> DPL at the time)? Or how would you encourage Steve or Andreas to do 
> things differently for future meetings they might organise?

It turns out that I probably found out about the meeting before Martin,
but in any case I don't think there was a great deal anyone could have
done at that stage other than ask for a clearer description of what
issues were planned for discussion (of course, with hindsight that would
have made fairly little difference - it's clear that the contentious
issues are the ones that weren't on the schedule originally).

In terms of future organisation, more warning would be a good start.
You've said that the discussion of a new strategy for etch was something
that had been on your mind for a while. A pre-meeting brainstorming of
potential things that /might/ be discussed would have allowed for people
to have some more input (yeah, there'd have been noise as well. Fixing
that involves rather more social change), and would have avoided the
feeling that people now have of being left out of the process entirely.

> It's very easy to say "do things better" and "do things differently", 
> but, well, it's far easier said than done.

How about the creation of a checklist for meeting organisation and
reporting? Something along the lines of:

1) Has the meeting been announced well in advance?
2) Have we defined the scope of the meeting?
3) Have we given others an opportunity to provide input on the issues we
hope to discuss?
4) Have we recorded the process that led to our conclusions?
5) Does our write-up start with the problems we wish to address and
then logically progress from there to the conclusions we reached?

would result in less ill-will in future.
Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.vote@srcf.ucam.org

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