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Re: Question to all candidates about the NM process

On Sat, Mar 04, 2006 at 01:06:37PM +0100, Marc 'HE' Brockschmidt wrote:

Hey Marc,

>Though there are often threads about problems with it on our mailing
>lists, the NM process hasn't changed much in the last three or four
>years. What do you think about the most common problems (takes too
>long, is asking for too broad knowledge)?

The NM process has been a subject of debates for a long time; I don't
think any answers you get here are going to cause any major
changes. Nonetheless, I'll share my viewpoint with you as you've
asked... :-) You list 2 problems:

1. Takes too long

We have NMs that take a long time to go through the NM process, for
several reasons: some take a long time to work through the tasks and
skills checks, some complain that there are delays in AM assignment
and/or interaction, and some are delayed waiting on final DAM

I _don't_ actually think that it is _necessarily_ a problem if the NM
process takes quite a long time to complete. However, I freely
acknowledge that I never had to work through the process myself (see
my platform for details). Much Debian work involves dedication and
commitment to large amounts of hard work, and selecting for people
that will cope with that is not a bad thing.

There have been various incremental improvements in the NM process
over the past few years which have helped:

 * work on the front desk interface that helps people to track
 * more formalisation of the tasks & skills checks
 * expanding the DAM team - adding Joerg

Unfortunately, the common blocks that people point to come (as in many
other areas of Debian) down to overworked volunteers. That's a
difficult one to fix - we need people to be honest and admit that they
can't keep up, and we need more people to help out in jobs that can
easily degenerate into tedious administrivia. Both of these are hard.

2. Asks for too broad knowledge

It has been suggested several times over the years that we ask too
many questions of NM candidates. People want to do work for Debian,
but not everybody needs to know the gory details of library symbol
versioning (for example) if their interests and skills lie in
translation. So far, our organisation has been tailored for a group of
package maintainers, _not_ translators or sysadmins or artists or ...

I believe there should be a place in Debian for people that want to
work on all aspects of our operating system, but it's not 100% clear
that all of those people should be _maintainers_. A lot of
contributions may be one-offs from people reporting and helping to fix
individual bugs or translating messages in the packages that they use
regularly. For those people, simply providing due credit is
important. For more dedicated people that want to volunteer more
effort for Debian, we should allow them to help however they
can. Quite how we can do that is a much longer topic... :-)

>Do you think that we need to change the NM checks?

In line with my comments on the "knowledge" section, I think that
depends on what we expect our NMs to know.

Also (as outlined in my platform) I'd like to see more social
interaction counted in the NM vetting process. In the long run, our
developers are going to be spending time working with us and others in
the Free Software community.

Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve@einval.com
You raise the blade, you make the change... You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane...

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