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Re: Question to all candidates: DPL's role in important package maintenance

On Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 08:05:40PM -0500, Kumar Appaiah wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 01, 2010 at 02:57:59AM +0200, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> > > One of the questions which I've not yet seen exactly in the
> > > discussions is on the transparency in the maintenance of non-core but
> > > "important" packages, such as python, wherein the maintenance of the
> > > package and policy (till a short while ago) has been, poor at best,
> > > and we've had near zero communication from the maintainer(s) for over
> > > a year. This has led some parts of the "community" (Debian Python, in
> > > this case) to knock the doors of the tech-ctte[1] (recommended
> > > reading, unless you have done so already).
> > 
> > I don't wish to comment on the specific case of python packaging.
> > There's been lots of things going on there, and though some of it was in
> > public, the thread you point to clearly states that some things were not
> > discussed in public, but were instead only done through private mail
> > between some of the people involved. As such, it's impossible for me to
> > build a clear picture on what has been going on, which would be a
> > prerequisite for commenting on this.
> Isn't this, by itself, a problem?

Not necessarily.

> Shouldn't it be very easy to find out what the discussions were,
> rather than have to ask those who discussed behind closed doors as to
> wha t the current situation is?

It depends on what the problem is.

If the problems are purely of a technical nature, then sure, things
should be discussed in the open.

But it is my experience that often, problems that keep dragging on for
months on end are /not/ purely of a technical nature. When the problem
at hand is basically "I think $FOO is an arse, but I don't want to say
this in front of everyone," then it does make sense to discuss things
behind closed doors.

It doesn't even have to be purely emotional like that. "$FOO thinks the
right solution is to do this. I've explained several times now that that
won't work, because of some particular cornercase that he dismisses out
of hand, but which actually does happen. Every time I bring it up, the
same arguments are rehashed over and over again, and I'm sick of them.
I'll fix it, eventually, but he should stop nagging, and no, I'm not
going to talk to him anymore."

Discussing problems in public works very well if two people like
eachother. If they don't, however, you get two people cursing at
eachother. Now there are some people who really don't mind doing that in
public; but when things get messy, not being messy out in the open
actually makes a whole lot of sense.

I think it's much more important that the problem at hand is solved. How
this is done is less so. The technical arguments for why things are done
in one way or another should be as public as possible; but if there are
personal problems involved, smearing them out in the open should not be
necessary, and it should be fine to have a private discussion so that
the mediator can find out what the actual problems are.

Of course that shouldn't be the principle; but we should not be afraid
of discussing things in private, either.

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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