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Re: Question to all (other) candidates

On Tue, Mar 23, 2010 at 06:49:51PM +0100, I wrote:
> > So, since part of the reason that I joined the race was to make sure it
> > wouldn't get too boring, I was hoping there'd be a bit more life on this
> > list. Since there isn't, allow me to ask a few questions myself.
> FWIW, I disagree with that or, better, I think "too boring" is a
> subjective notion. I've been indexing DPL campaigning questions this and
> last year, and we're currently at about 20 discussion topics, with 1
> more week of campaigning ahead of us. Last year campaigning has been
> *way* more quiet :-)

Well, last year's election was a bit exceptional in that there was
almost nothing to do here on -vote. The previous election I participated
in, OTOH, was one of the most contested elections in Debian's history. I
guess we're both a bit biased in opposite ways :-)

> ... and while we are on rebuttals, let me comment a specific point of
> your rebuttals to my platform: the one about the website. Reading your
> rebuttals, it seems that I intend to favor external over internal
> contributions to the website. This is not the case, as it is made clear
> by the usage of the expression "emergency plan".

Indeed; after re-reading your platform, I notice that I initially
misread it. Apologies; I'll remove that part from my rebuttal.

> Now, since fair is fair, I'm looking forward for your comments to my
> rebuttals about your platform :-)

Well, since you ask :-)

[Stefano's rebuttal]
> For once, the idea of talking more with “Debian people” other than
> DDs/DMs is wonderful—assuming that by that Wouter imagines the DPL
> attending several events other than our “classical” developer-oriented
> events. That however is not enough, because the big public of our
> potential contributors is not (only) there. To that end, I found
> striking that our Web presence is not mentioned in the platform as an
> important strategic area to attract more developers.

When I mention "talking" in my platform, I do not (only) mean that
literally. I intend to "talk" to many people in many ways; One vague
idea I've been thinking about is a web poll or some such. However, since
I don't know whether or how that will work out in practice, I didn't
think it proper to mention it in my platform and thereby make it a
promise, or some such.

> > Charles:
> > 
> > In your platform, in the "Program" section, you mention four ideas that
> > could reasonable be described as being about the things that,
> > respectively, the DAM and NM frontdesk, the ftp-masters, and the Release
> > Managers (twice) are responsible for. Did you talk with these teams
> > about your ideas before running for DPL?
> > 
> > If not, do you believe this may cause problems? Are you still planning
> > to, and may your ideas change if you do?
> > 
> > If you did talk to these teams beforehand, did your plans change any as
> > a result, or do you anticipate that still happening?
> This comes across as calling Charles out for not consulting other people
> (or at least not acknowledging their contributions).

Indeed it was.

When one puts forward ideas that a) could be considered to be rather
radical, and b) involve something that particular groups in the project
have worked on for quite a while, I think it is imperative that these
people are at the very least aware of your plans and have had a chance
to comment on it, *before* you start making it public in something like
a DPL platform. To do otherwise is creating expectations that these
groups might have told you cannot be reasonably followed up on anyway.

> I have not contacted these teams in private or in public. I expect the
> three weeks of campaign to be long enough to openly discuss what I
> propose.

I believe this is wrong. For one, a campaign is the worst time to
discuss plans like these, because you're betting your election on it.
For another, you've not explicitly talked to the teams, so though
unlikely, it's perfectly possible that they're not even aware of your
plans. Finally, if you think three weeks is enough to discuss anything
radical in Debian, I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken -- I remember the
fuzz about the Vancouver proposal to take at least twice that time. And
remember there's still an election going on, too.

(so, to answer my own question: no, I do not think it is a good idea to
come up with radical suggestions in DPL platforms without at the very
least having had them pass by the relevant teams for input)

> In my platform, I have separate sections for ‘Program’ and ‘What I
> will do as DPL’. In short: vote for my if you like my program, but I
> will not come to the core teams with a long shopping list of things to
> do. This is not fun, nor it gives trust to the teams that do the work.

Good to know that; it does alleviate some of my concerns. However, I'm
not convinced this is entirely clear for everyone who reads your

> > Marga:
> > Also, you seem to have received a great deal of help in writing your
> > platform. In the interest of clarity, can you shine a light on how this
> > happened? To mention two possible extremes, was this more of a "I'd like
> > to run, but would need a platform, please send me some ideas", or rather
> > "hey, $RANDOM_PEOPLE, here's a platform, please give me some comments?"
> > (I realize the truth is probably somewhere in between those two, but
> > would like to know exactly what we get if I were to vote you second...)
> This comes across as calling Marga out for consulting too many other
> people (or at least for acknowledging their contributions too much).
> But you can't have it both ways ;)

Well, it wasn't meant as such.

The role of the DPL is to lead. Not only in technical or financial
matters, but, I believe, also in vision as to what should happen with
the project, and *how* it should happen. It's okay to request and
receive input on that vision, but if the DPL platform -- what should be
the very source of a DPL's vision -- is "written by" other people, to
call an extreme, then that would not reflect well on the person
involved, IMO.

There's also a difference; I called Charles on part of his platform; the
question for Marga was about the whole of the platform.

> I see no acknowledgments of outside input in your own platform.  Did
> you consult with other members of the community in drafting it?  (or
> did i miss it when i read your platform?)

No, there was no outside input when I wrote my own platform. That does
not mean there will not be outside input when I work as DPL; on the

> As you say, it's some point in the middle.  When I first started
> thinking about running for DPL, I started discussing ideas back and
> forth with a small number of people, coming up with what would be good
> starting points and what could be done to make things better in
> Debian.  After that, I drafted the platform and asked a few other
> people to comment, and then I improved the platform with their
> comments.

Thanks, that clarifies it.

For the record, my own answer would be that I believe a platform is a
personal thing; it shows how the prospective DPL thinks about the
project, and should therefore explain the prospective DPL's own ideas.

It's of course perfectly okay to ask input from other people in
formulating that opinion and those ideas, so long as you don't overdo it
to such an extent that it could be said you've basically written down
the ideas of other people rather than your own. Given the rather long
list of names at the bottom, it wasn't entirely clear to me whether that
was the case, but you've now clarified that it wasn't.

> > Also, I will provide my own answers to some of the above questions
> > (where that would make sense), but would like to see the other
> > candidates' answers first.

So there.


The biometric identification system at the gates of the CIA headquarters
works because there's a guard with a large gun making sure no one is
trying to fool the system.

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