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Re: GR: welcome non-packaging contributors as Debian project members

On Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 05:53:46PM +0900, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> [ Draft GR text below, look for "-----".  M-F-T set to -vote. ]

[ Disclaimer: I'm attending an academic conference this week and I'll be
  at the Italian mini-DebConf in the week-end. That's why I'll be
  sluggish in participating to this discussion until next week. ]

First of all thanks for the warm welcome of this proposal! From the
discussion thus far, I see three main topics emerging and I'll briefly
comment about them below

Is this GR needed?          (raised by at least Giacomo and Paul [1,10])

I'm very well aware that DAM already has all the needed powers to
implement this change. Still there are 2 reasons to have a GR.

The first reason is past history. DAM did advance a related proposal in
the past. We might consider it as flawed as we please, but that does not
change the fact that it has been overruled by the project [2]. Since we
are all humans, it is very unlikely at this point that DAM will pursue
further the goal without explicit project approval. This GR is meant to
verify what the project wants and possibly ask DAM to implement it.

The second reason is that cases as the one Paul mentions have been only
sporadic exceptions thus far, nothing more. That has the defects of
making the exceptions practically invisible and does nothing to change
the widespread culture that "you need to be a packager to be a DD".
Having a clear project vote on the matter will *also* send out a clear
message of where the Debian project stands on this matter.

  [1]  http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2010/09/msg00048.html
  [2]  http://www.debian.org/vote/2008/vote_002
  [10] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2010/09/msg00006.html

Upload rights      (raised by at least Lars, Lucas, and Charles [3,4,5])

Let me go back on why I have advanced this proposal. I believe one of
the problem Debian needs to face is acknowledging contributions of
non-packagers. Many teams out there have worked with non-DDs on loads of
non-packaging stuff: translations, wiki maintenance, porting, and all of
the other examples mentioned in the beginning of the GR, and more. Most
of those people understand Debian values as much as packagers do and
feel excluded from Debian just because they don't master debhelper or
maintainer scripts. Due to the reasons mentioned above, DAM and Front
Desk are unlikely to accept them as DDs as of today.

The proposed GR aims at solving *that* problem and I believe we should
keep it in mind.

I understand and I'm sympathetic of arguments about trust and "2nd class
Debian citizens", but the problem we're trying to solve here is more
pragmatic than that. Additionally, those people are generally not
interested in upload rights, so I left upload rights out of the GR on
purpose, because I think we have a simpler solution at hand's reach.

Finally, leaving upload rights out of the GR might enable a much swifter
membership procedure. In the current NM process, T&S is essentially a
packaging qualification (either by templates or — more common these days
— by reviewing past work) exactly because people will have upload

Russ have surely explained all of above way better than me [6,7].

But the whole point of this GR is having a project-wide decision, not
one of mine. Therefore if there is support for the "with full upload
rights" position, I would welcome an amendment in that direction and I'm
also ready to second it to ensure that all relevant positions are
represented in the ballot.  Still, I would appreciate discussion on the
above points before such an amendment is advanced.  I also believe GRs
should not be used as hammers on the heads of working teams, until they
are really needed; hence I also recommend to seek comments from DAM and
Front Desk on a draft amendment before making it formal.

  [3] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2010/09/msg00017.html
  [4] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2010/09/msg00028.html
  [5] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2010/09/msg00010.html
  [6] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2010/09/msg00045.html
  [7] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2010/09/msg00049.html

Naming                          (raised by at least Luca and Lars [8,9])

Ah, what a mess!

Until a few minutes before posting the GR proposal, the text contained a
s/Debian Members/non-uploading Debian Developers/ and before that
several more s/// have been applied on drafts. So, believe me, I fully
understand the puzzling about the name.

Let's make it clear that the "new role" we are introducing is not
something different than DDs from the POV of constitution. We are just
saying that we accept as DDs (called in the constitution both
"developers" and "project members") people who contribute stuff other
than packaging work. Those people will be "Debian Developer", no
question. The problem is that in practice we will *need* a name to
distinguish on the basis of upload rights (e.g. imagine an IRC
conversation on the topic of "can you sponsor this upload of
mine?"). Either we propose a name while introducing the concept, or it
will be chosen by folklore and I don't believe that would be wise.

In principle, nothing stops us from leaving the name out of the GR and
leave up to DAM to select one, as suggested by Luca [8]. The advantage
of that is we will not tie our hands with a specific name. The drawback
is that, will start to talk about the new role anyhow, without waiting
for a proper name blessing. Considering all of the above, I thought that
going for "Debian Contributor" was the better solution.

If there is consensus in leaving the name out of the GR, I can apply
back the above substitution. I consider that as something that "do not
alter the meaning" of the GR and is hence something I can do without
much disruption.

  [8] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2010/09/msg00012.html
  [9] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2010/09/msg00022.html


Stefano Zacchiroli -o- PhD in Computer Science \ PostDoc @ Univ. Paris 7
zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} -<>- http://upsilon.cc/zack/
Quando anche i santi ti voltano le spalle, |  .  |. I've fans everywhere
ti resta John Fante -- V. Caposella .......| ..: |.......... -- C. Adams

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