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Re: Proposal: Recall the Project Leader

Mike Bird <mgb-debian@yosemite.net> writes:
> On Saturday 23 September 2006 14:17, Russ Allbery wrote:

>> The solution to this sort of situation is, again, a matter of ethics.
>> As a Debian Developer, I agreed to be part of this project.  To me,
>> that carries an ethical obligation to make decisions for the general
>> good of the project.  Should I be put into a situation where I don't
>> feel like I can do that without conflicts of interest, I would recuse
>> myself.

> Debian has to look at least one move ahead.  Once conflicts of interest
> are accepted with an assumption that honest people will recuse
> themselves, the dynamics inevitably lead to something like the US
> Congress.

I don't think I've seen any project with more than a handful of people
that doesn't have a potential for conflicts of interest.  Debian has
certainly had that potential for many, many years already, and has been
dealing with that for all these years.

> Non-honest people will take roles that they would not otherwise.  And if
> you doubt the existence of black hat programmers, take a look at my spam
> folder some day.

We haven't seemed to have serious problems with that so far, despite
having many Debian developers who even work for companies with interests
in having Debian work in particular ways that may not be best for other
users of Debian.  People work say up-front when they're not impartial, we
work out reasonable solutions or compromises, and we get on with the
business of making a high-quality operating system.

This is not some scary, complex concept fraught with danger.  Potential
conflicts of interest arise in life all the time.  They're nearly
unavoidable, a natural consequence of having more than one interest and
more than one affiliation in one's life.  People deal with them routinely,
often without needing to give them a second thought.  Every time you see
someone say "I really want this feature but maybe it doesn't fit the
bigger picture" or "I want to make this work in Debian; what do I need to
do so that it doesn't break other things I don't personally care about,"
you're seeing someone deal with a conflict of interest.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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