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Re: Question for Stefano: Length of the DPL term

On Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 05:36:37PM +0100, Martin Zobel-Helas wrote:
> in your platform you wrote that you experienced that serving as DPL is
> a task with a rather long bootstrap time. You didn't wrote how long
> this exactly was, but i guess something about 2-3 month.

I'd say that is a reasonable figure, yes.

> Now my question: What do you think about changing the constitution to
> extend the length of the DPL term to, lets say, two years?

I thought about this quite a bit in the past months. I've found it to be
a surprisingly complex problem.

I agree that a longer term will improve the status quo with respect to
the "bootstrap time" issue. I've even thought about proposing the
corresponding constitutional change, but in the end I've decided that
it's something I want to propose myself while still being DPL, for
obvious reasons.

I was pondering to propose it just after having stepped down, but I see
various contraindications that need to be addressed first: 

- There are risks in lengthening the term, for instance the consequences
  of a DPL going MIA / burning out shortly after the terms begin get
  worse. I'm aware that a GR can fix that, but it's a rather difficult
  step to take at a social level, especially considering that the DPL
  themselves can fail to realize they're on (the verge of) burn out.

- Being DPL it's a volunteer job and it's one where you might feel quite
  some responsibility. A longer term will increase the "scare away"
  factor, possibly reducing the number of DPL candidates.

All in all, I believe we need a solution in which the *default* term
period is longer than now (say, 2 years), but in which there is an easy
way out at midterm for both the project (in case people are not happy
about the DPL) and the incumbent DPL (in case they can no longer offer a
good service to the project and would like to quit without fearing

Something that might work is that at midterm the DPL has to explicitly
state whether they are willing to continue for another midterm or
not. If the DPL decides to continue, the project can request elections
to the secretary anyhow, provided that a given number of Developers
(defined in terms of Q) want so. The developers who want election should
probably be allowed to do so anonymously, for coherency with the fact
that DPL elections are anonymous already.

The last paragraph is just a braindump, to which I haven't given much
thought, but since you asked ... :-)

Thanks for the question!
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. Capossela .......| ..: |.......... -- C. Adams

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