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Re: The Debian Maintainers GR

On Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 09:19:42AM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> I think the idea could be implemented, with
> better unification with the NM process, [...]

No doubt it could. I think that would be a bad thing, personally. 

The NM process is broken. The ideas for fixing the NM process are
directly opposed (eg, 'make it easy to get in for people who just want
to maintain a package', 'the average developer is stupid, make it harder
for stupid people to get in', 'don't let people in who aren't interested
in being part of the community'), including within the people doing
new-maintainer, with no particular indication that any of the people
holding those opposing views are interested in resolving them. There
aren't any public proposals for doing it within the NM process, in spite
of the NM folks having had over a year to think about this, and if there
were they'd suffer the same sort of criticism this proposal has; though
since the restructuring of NM around 2000, changes to NM haven't been
public until after they've happened, whether that be the appointment of
new DAMs or the creation of expulsion procedures, and outside review of
the decisions hasn't been particularly possible.

The reason all of that is a problem is that the power to decide who is and
isn't a member of the project has been centralised with two individuals
(James Troup and Joey Schulze originally, then just James, and now Joerg
Jaspert and James). If people think there's a better way of doing things
than what they're doing, they can't do it themselves, they have to go
through James and Joerg; and if the suggestion that there's a better
way of doing things comes off as criticism, or if it seems too different
and scary, or if they're just too busy or distracted with other things,
you're not going to get anywhere.

Having the ability to include people in the project in a minor way
be available to all DDs decentralises that -- it still leaves DAM as
the sole decider of who's a DD, but it gives other people a chance to
demonstrate that other approaches to getting people involved can be
effective and worth adopting.

If n-m were working well, or even I thought it had any hope of working
well, I expect I'd be all for this being unified with n-m -- after all,
that's what I'd thought was happening in '06, and what I was still hoping
would happen until Joerg and James made it pretty clear that they weren't
interested in anything I had to say and would do whatever they could to
stop it.

But having been forced to think about it, I actually think that's a
mistake; centralisation of power has caused a lot of problems in Debian,
and they're problems we haven't had much luck at solving at all. Adding
more powers to roles that are already having problems doesn't look
remotely like a win to me.

But all that said; there's absolutely nothing stopping it from being
unified with n-m: the proposal is primarily about creating a keyring
and how the archive will use that keyring, both of which are required
elements whether additions to the keyring can be suggested by anyone or
just by DAM. That the process is usable by others as well as DAM just
means that it's not an exclusive power for the DAMs, and that if other
people can do a better job of handling DMs than the DAMs, they're not
prevented from doing so.

> But I don't feel comfortable supporting what went to vote.

Honestly, I'm not surprised. No one wants to be the bad guy in Debian,
even when it's needed. I've already been warned by the listmasters [0]
for posting Joerg's and James's mails, and the snippet from -private, eg.
But I guess hiding problems is the Debian way these days, at least for
social issues.


[0] Oh, I see that was only sent to me directly and -private, so I guess
    mentioning it here is another violation.

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