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Reflections about the questions for the candidates

Hello all,

last year I had some fun following the election campaign and the
questions to the candidates.  This year I'm surprised to discover myself
slightly irritated by it.

I've been asking myself why, and realised that all these good and polite
questions are asked *only* during campaigning.

It can be that some questions that are good during campaigning might
not be asked during the rest of the year because they might seem

It can be that some questions are asked also during the rest of the
year, but rarely get an answer because the people who could cluefully
answer them are usually busy in something more important.  Or because
out of frustration they are asked rather impolitely, or targeted at the
wrong person.

So, what's interesting about campaigning is that for a limited period of
time, questions are asked politely and correctly articulated, and the
candidates take a break from the usual hacking and commit to answer
absolutely all the questions that they get asked[1].

People ask directly and nicely, people answer.  Fascinating pattern,
should be reapplied!

But there's more than that.  In the last year as part of the DPL Team,
people have been criticising the last year for the lack of reports.  But
I don't remember a single one sending in a mail like "Dear DPL[-Team],
what happened last week?".

It would have been a pleasure to answer such a question with something
like "Hi, thanks for asking.  It was mainly reasoning about the Security
Team, plus approving expenditure of $300 for flying person X to
conference Y".

That would have been as easy to write in a casual answer as it would
have been hard to write wrapped in the officiality of a report:

  DPL Report for last week

  1. Security team

  Did lots of reasoning about the Security Team.  Just like last week,
  things are tricky, but this week someone came up with a better idea.

  2. Budget

  Approved expenditure of $300 for flying person X to represent Debian
  in conference Y.  Thanks X for your outstanding work in this field,
  please make a report when you're back.

  -- End of DPL report for last week --

It would have been pointless to come out with such trivial reports.
Actually, in a recent chatting one of the past DPLs told me that he
tried at some point, but the feedback he got was roughly "who cares?".

It's also worth noting that if something big gets done, then it's likely
not to go in a DPL report either, as it'd be usually not in the name of
the DPL or of the DPL Team.  This is because the job of the DPL is to
help getting the work done, but not to get the work done: if a DPL would
be enough to get all the work done, otherwise we wouldn't need the
thousand DDs plus hundreds of almost-DDs, sponsored maintainers, helpful
people and so on that make Debian shine day after day.

So, the idea I'm throwing in is to take a little bit of these questions
past the campaigning time, and come out from time to time with something

 'Dear DPL, what do you think are the biggest issues in Debian at the
  moment, and what ways out do you see?'

There's lots of fantasy and smartness going into questions posted to
-vote.  Part of that smartness could be reused.



[1] If we want to test this assertion, I have a polygen grammar that
can generate a large amount of questions. :)
GPG key: 1024D/797EBFAB 2000-12-05 Enrico Zini <enrico@enricozini.org>

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