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Re: Questions concerning the DPL board

On Wed, 07 Mar 2007, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> > 1/ Why do you think that alone you'll be able to take consensual decisions if
> > you fear that you're not able to convince a small set of open-minded
> > Debian developers?
> It's not about being able to take consensual decisions; it's about the
> fact that for a Debian Developer who's not a member of the board, having
> a board to talk to when there's a problem takes a lot more effort than
> having just one person (the DPL) to talk to. 

As I explained, you can bring up an issue to the board simply by
convincing one member of the board to do it, you don't need to discuss
with everybody if you don't want to. On the contrary, it opens more
possibilities of interactions with the DPL, since you don't have to rely
on a single person but you can choose one out of a set (consider the case
that the DPL elected is someone that you don't really like, then having
choice is interesting).

> Then there's also a bunch of procedures that need to be created in order
> to simply be *able* to take decisions as a group.

Sure. But will you as DPL take decisions without consulting anyone? I
don't think so. The board is only formalizing a bit more who are your
advisers and make sure that the advisers are known to the rest of the
project. Those procedures do not get added, they replace an internal
process of self-conviction that you have to follow anyway if you're
DPL as an individual.

> Sure, it's a lot easier to reach consensus when there's 10 people to
> talk to rather than 1000 people; but I feel that's looking at it from
> the wrong side. A proposed board *still* needs to listen to the group of
> 1000 people to be able to form an opinion that is in the best interest
> of the entire project, so you're not really solving anything.

There's no way you can listen alone to 1000 people. Those 1000 persons are
spread over 160 mailing list and you probably subscribe to one or two
dozens of the mailing lists. With a board, you certainly have a broader
coverage of the project.

Since we're all implicated members, we're going to follow and participate
in the discussions anyway, whether elected or not. So there's nothing to
solve. We have all agreed to spend time discussing together. :-)

> > 2/ Do you agree that the proposed board is a good compromise for a group
> > representing Debian's diversity (in terms of opinions at least) while still
> > consisting mainly of open-minded people with good communication skills?
> No. I think doing so would only really be possible if Developers were to
> align themselves in groups of likeminded people, much like political
> parties.

Huh, I was asking for comments on the actual composition of the board that
I proposed... I never implied that the mere existence of a board
guarantees a good representation of Debian's diversity.

> > Some of you fear pushing forward your own projects if you don't have the
> > implicit project approval through your election.
> > 
> > 3/ Aren't you convinced that your projects are good?
> Sure I am.
> However, it's not about what I think; it's about what the project thinks
> is good. If I want to propose changes to our social culture, but most
> people in the project think that's not necessary and that our social
> culture is just fine, then who am I to go ahead and forcibly change
> stuff anyway?

If you're not elected, it doesn't mean that your platform is bad, simply
that someone else platform's was preferred. Most platforms are not
incompatible, I would rather not choose and give you all the motivation
to go forward with all your projects: I want a friendlier social culture,
better internal workings in some key teams, a redesigned website, more
packaging teams, backup maintainers for all standard packages, etc.

And even if you're elected, you'll not be able to forcibly change stuff...
when I pushed forward collaborative maintenance in 2002 it wasn't really a
hot topic and not many people were convinced. But the idea was good and I
continued to make it easier for people to work collaboratively. This is
how you slowly make a project like Debian evolve for the better.

The same logic goes for this board idea. Given a possible decision to
take, you have the choice to go for a GR or require a ruling from the DPL
board. If the DPL board is more effective than a GR (which is quite easy
to do, given the time and the number of flames it takes until a GR is
over), then the board has served an important purpose for the project.

I don't believe that the ruling of an individual DPL has enough weight to
influence the project. I do think however that the role of the DPL is to
influence the project.

> > 4/ Don't you think that if some of your projects are not good enough, the
> > discussion within the DPL board will make that clear?
> I'm rather convinced that if the elections clearly show that my ideas
> are crap according to most developers, that proposing them to your
> proposed board anyway isn't actually a very good idea.

What are you criteria to evaluate this? I'm sure you'll be largely above
NOTA. I don't know the rank that you'll have, but the rank in itself doesn't mean
much concerning your projects. They can be interesting and still be ranked
below other projects which look even more promising. That's doesn't mean
that your projects are crap and that they wouldn't improve Debian.

Raphaël Hertzog

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