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Re: Debian Maintainers GR Proposal, updated

On Wed, Jun 27, 2007 at 12:41:35PM +0100, Anthony Towns wrote:
> The Debian Project endorses the concept of "Debian Maintainers" with
> limited access, and resolves that: [...]

So one thing that I wrote about originally [0], that I don't think I've
repeated much, is that ultimately I look at this as more closely related
to the idea of "sponsorship" than "new-maintainer".

Ultimately, I hope that the DM concept gets implemented and works well
enough to be a replacement for the practice of sponsorship -- or at
least long-term or ongoing sponsorship -- as currently exists in Debian,
rather than as a replacement or workaround for new-maintainer. So that
new-maintainer keeps existing (and hopefully provides more value for the
time it takes up, whether that means increasing the value or decreasing
the time or both), and sponsorship keeps happening, but via the DM process
instead of the current one, so that "sponsored" maintainers become
identifiable to Debian (through the new keyring), become a bit better
known or knowable (through the advocacy mails they need to become a DM)
and thanks to both those aspects can be more trusted and effective (in the
form of being able to directly upload their package(s) to the archive).

Of course, it's not that simple to distinguish sponsorship and
new-maintainer as they currently stand, since sponsorship itself is
in some ways a workaround for problems in new-maintainer, but I think
it's become quite a bit more than just that -- ie, if we could make
new-maintainer be "perfect" right now, I don't think we'd actually want
to get rid of sponsorship; perhaps because we want to use it as a part of
new-maintainer, or because we want to accept contributions of people who
don't want to be DDs, or because we want to raise the bar in being a DD
to a higher level than we need for people to contribute to a few packages.

I guess one of the things that leads me to think this -- after having
spent quite a long time considering sponsorship a horrible hack that
needs to die asap -- is the different interpretations that people take
when talking about "fixing" new-maintainer. Some folks interpret it
as "making it easy to pass, so we have lots of DDs even if they only
have the skills to maintain a few easy packages", while others think
new-maintainer's already being too lax and letting people into the keyring
who simply haven't been exposed to enough aspects of Debian and don't
have a deep enough understanding of various topics to actually warrant
being a DD. To me, it seems like we're going to have to resolve that
ambiguity in what it means to "fix" new-maintainer before we're going
to have much hope of actually "fixing" it.

And I guess that's where I come back to DM at least -- we already have the
concept of a non-DD maintainer of a package in the form of sponsorship, so
making that official and supported and effective seems like a good way to
start working out what a good compromise for the various ideas on what it
means to be a "DD". Without some different way of contributing than being
a DD or someone who sends patches to the BTS and hopes they're applied,
I just don't see any way of resolving the different ideas on how much
skill you need to have to contribute to Debian, and I definitely can't
see us picking one set of views and proclaiming it's the one true path.

I dunno, maybe that doesn't make all that much sense, and I don't really
think it's terribly proscriptive or even descriptive of how the DM process
will actually affect Debian in practice, but given the fairly intense
focus on DM versus the new-maintainer process in the discussion so far, I
thought trying to emphasise the comparison to sponsorship might be useful.

FWIW, that's also more or less why my proposal doesn't go into any
details on when the DM process should be used -- it's trying to be
comparable to sponsorship, which is useful in lots of circumstances,
so it's designed to enable higher level policies, not to set them, iyswim.

Obviously, IMHO, YMMV, FWIW, IANAL, etc.


[0] http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/blog/2006/04/12#2006-04-11-maintainers

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