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Re: Reflections about the questions for the candidates


On Sun, Mar 05, 2006 at 02:27:36AM +0000, Martin Michlmayr wrote:

> However, what you say in your message (if people had
> asked for status reports they would've received them) is blatantly
> wrong.  We did ask, and (usually) no good response was given.

this turns out to be interesting: we have two different perceptions of
what happened.  Bug.  Let's debug it.

My memory mainly has people complaining about lack of reports.  The
report thing has been sick and twisted, it went (as I see it) more or
less like this:

 - [Branden just elected] "I'll write regular reports!"
   (crowd applauds)

 - Two regular reports come out covering what is happening on the last
   moments of Sarge release, and Branden's making a recap of the status
   of things as he found them.
 - Sarge releases, and a month later comes the (delayed) third and last

After Sarge released, it was finally the time to go back at all the
overdue big changes that have been delayed to allow Sarge to come out.

Big issues started to come in, and frustration followed shortly
afterwards when it started to become clear that interaction with all the
parties involved was much more delicate and difficult than what one
would expect.

I just went back to the mail archive of that time and stopped reading
after a while because of anger rising: lots of good efforts have been
done, and the instant reaction to those was in various case absolutely
disappointing.  It's all stuff you can't put in a report: you just have
to swallow, be patient, keep insisting, try new things, "this is going
to be a long-term one".

This was the "lots of effort is being done, none of it can be put in a
report" phase.

On Sun, Mar 05, 2006 at 10:44:17AM +0200, Lars Wirzenius wrote:

> I disagree. They let the project know that things are going on (or not
> going on), and the DPL and Team are not just dormant, which was the
> impression I, at least, had for much of the past year. Compare to daily
> status mails from crontabs: if you don't get them, you can assume that
> something went wrong.

This is true, and looking at it from now it would indeed have been
much better than nothing.

But at that time things were like:

 X: haven't made a report in two months, we should make one.
 Y: what do we have?
 X: "lots of difficult talking with people" and "approved two bills"
 Y: if we make a 'last two months' report like that, everyone's gonna
    shout "you haven't been doing *anything*!"
 X: but that isn't fair, we HAVE been doing things!
 Y: how do you argue that, without disclosing A, B and C?
 X: sucks.
 Y: sucks.

So we waited until we had something big to show.  And that's were we
found out that when something big happens, even if the DPL has been
putting lots of efforts in talking people into making it happen, they
never happen in the name of the DPL.  

Time passes, expectations raise, nothing to match them.  Rinse and
repeat.  Recipe for failure.

Personal suggestion to all candidates:

  make it clear from the beginning that people should't expect to find
  big stuff in your reports unless you start making summaries of what
  happened in the project.
  But that would be duplicating DWN.
  So make it clear from the beginning that people shouldn't expect to
  find big stuff in your reports, period.  That's likely to be the only
  way you'll be able to make a report at all.

Lars, your crontab mail example is enlightening: boring, but essential.

On Sun, Mar 05, 2006 at 02:27:36AM +0000, Martin Michlmayr wrote:

> Such questions were asked all the time but we didn't get any
> substantial answers.  Once it resulted in a wiki page being created
> listing what the DPL team has been up to, but that page was really
> embarrassing, listing only 3-4 minor things (a few more were added
> later, but still... not really a good summary).  Several times (after
> the failure of the Scud IRC meeting), people asked what Scud was
> actually up to and never got any response whatsoever.

Do you have links to them?  I'm not asking to question what you say, but
because I'd like to have a look at them again.

What's left in my memory is people asking for reports we couldn't make
or progress we couldn't disclose.  Lots of frustration, so I might have
just repressed those questions from my memory.

> The point is that people shouldn't have to *ask* for such reports.
> It's imho the responsibility of the DPL to send such reports without
> being prodded, and in fact, the current DPL explicitly stated in his
> platform that he would send such statements (but almost never did).

Right.  IMHO Branden had grand plans in the platform of announcing cool
stuff every month, and banged against the reality of cool stuff being
reported into DWN and the DPL being left with boring stuff.

The first reports of Branden were quite grand.  They culminated in the
Sarge release.  After that, there was nothing that could have matched,
and noone's been able to redesign the reports to cope with it.

In hindsight, all the good decisions that should have been made suddenly
appear clear and easy.

The good thing is that we've been having that discussion and we're
having that discussion now and there is interesting aftermath coming
out.  I hope that it can be useful to allow the next DPL to better cope
with this kind of things.

On Sun, Mar 05, 2006 at 09:49:29AM +0100, Thijs Kinkhorst wrote:

> I find it very strange that the DPL(team) explicitly calls for all input,
> then ignores that input, and then complains on -vote that they did not get
> enough opportunity to tell what they were doing.

On Sun, Mar 05, 2006 at 01:16:19AM -0800, Steve Langasek wrote:

> Uh, for one thing, "leader@debian.org" != "DPL Team".  It was Branden's
> decision to not auto-forward the leader address  to the DPL team, so that
> anyone could feel comfortable contacting leader@ about confidential matters;
> the flipside is that responsiveness to that address was definitely
> contingent on Branden's personal availability.

I confirm what Steve said.  I checked in my dpl team mail archive and
there's only one mail from Thijs Kinkhorst, sent to leader@ and jvw@ and
bounced (by Jeroen) to the team "FYI".  It's also the only mail that I
have in that archive that doesn't have an answer.

On Sun, Mar 05, 2006 at 02:27:36AM +0000, Martin Michlmayr wrote:

> > 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?".
> Since we talked recently, I'm wondering if you're referring to me.  If
> so, I didn't express myself clearly.  Let me know if you're referring
> to me and I'll try to elaborate what I meant.

Yup, that was from my memories of our conversation at FOSDEM: I'm sorry
if I have misuderstood or misrepresented you.

On Sun, Mar 05, 2006 at 10:44:17AM +0200, Lars Wirzenius wrote:

> And yes, a couple of times I did ask, although on IRC and not via
> e-mail. Having to drag out information gets tiresome so I only did it a
> couple of times.

Did you get answers when you asked on IRC?



GPG key: 1024D/797EBFAB 2000-12-05 Enrico Zini <enrico@enricozini.org>

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