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Re: More votes in Debian? Any idea for improvement?

Stefano Zacchiroli <zack@debian.org> writes:

> According to the constitution we can ask the Technical Committee to make
> such decisions. But we don't have the habit of doing so and I don't
> think the committee would scale if we would start doing so.

I believe the Technical Committee can do better, but I don't want to say
more than that unless I can actually make it happen, since words are
cheap.  :)

But that aside, the problem with having decisions made by a committee like
that is that it's the opposite of consensus-based decision-making, and
while it's much more expedient, my impression is that the decision quality
isn't quite as high and the project buy-in is *nowhere* near as high.  The
advantage of our messy and protracted decision-making process is that by
the time a decision finally gets spit out the other end, it's usually
rather uncontroversial and the project moves with remarkable unanimity.

That's why, for things like init systems, I'd much rather enable people to
poke at them and see if that helps consensus develop before trying
something more hierarchical.  Yes, it means that we don't move fast on
project-wide things, which means that we're not on the cutting edge of
development of such systems.  You can be more nimble with a hierarchical
structure and central decision-making.  But Debian isn't just about that;
it's also about being fun and being an engaged part of a volunteer
community, and the community properties of consensus decision-making are a
lot nicer, I think.

On that front, for example, I still think that the multiarch outcome was a
project failure.  Possibly an inevitable failure, but still a failure.  It
was less of a failure than a GR would have been, though.

> If you look at other projects, younger than Debian, who have probably
> chosen to do differently in the above matters "learning" from us, you'll
> notice that they have some sort of Technical Board. Those boards have
> periodical meetings and make pro-active, project-wide technical
> decisions on behalf of their projects.

> *If* we want to tackle the "default picking" and similar choices
> properly, technical board is likely the way to go. But that would be a
> fundamental change in how we do things and it will have some negative
> effects. Whether we want to go there or not is something I've been
> asking myself since quite a while, without a clearly winning answer (yet
> :-)).

My gut feeling is that it would lose a lot of what makes Debian special.
But I tend to be a fairly conservative sort of person about changes like
this, which is why I work on standards documents.  :)

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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