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Re: Questions for all candidates: plurality of mandates

On Wed, Mar 08, 2006 at 11:45:44AM +0100, Mohammed Adnène Trojette wrote:
>Questions for all candidates:
>In the Debian project, some people run many functions because they are
>very competent and have free time to help on many different fronts.
>The obvious consequence is a concentration of powers which is dangerous
>when those people come to have less free time or interest, as they
>become bottlenecks.
>I read in Anthony's mail[0]:
>"ftpmaster work requires a different set of skills to release management
>though, and frankly Joey's already got enough stuff to do, without
>worrying about the nuts and bolts of the dak implementation."
>[0] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2006/03/msg00157.html
>Do you think Debian should *officially* limit the number of delegations
>for one person? Do you consider this "multiple hat" question a problem?
>If yes, do you have solutions to this problem?

No, I don't think an official limit on jobs is necessary, nor would it
help. I agree that we _do_ have a problem with the "multiple hat"
issue, and I know we also have a related issue: finding people to pick
up all the big tasks that need doing.

Debian has a long history of causing burnout in key people: the bigger
tasks often need such a commitment that they quickly cease to be
fun. Then we see those key people simply dropping out of the
project. Many of the tasks end up being allocated almost by guilt: the
feeling that "if I don't do the job, it won't get done". And the more
work that people do for Debian, the more they will see these tasks
that have to be done.

Some solutions to these issues are easy to suggest, but not so easy to
make happen:

 * More people volunteering to work on core tasks. Not just saying
   "let me in", but actually diving in and learning how things work
   and making a start.

 * More information about what tasks need help - prioritising tasks
   and working out where people _can_ dive in effectively.

What doesn't help is adding extra pressure on the people doing the
core tasks. Some of the periodic mailing list discussions have turned
ugly on this front. Abusing / criticising the dedicated workaholics
only makes the situation worse - it won't make them work any faster,
and it won't encourage them to go looking for help.

Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve@einval.com
"Further comment on how I feel about IBM will appear once I've worked out
 whether they're being malicious or incompetent. Capital letters are forecast."
 Matthew Garrett, http://www.livejournal.com/users/mjg59/30675.html

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