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Re: [to all candidates] about a DPL board

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Martin Zobel-Helas <zobel@debian.org> writes:

> in the past i heared several ideas about a Debian Project Leader board
> similar to the SPI board.
> So lets imagine the project would have to vote for several members of
> this sort of board, with every member being on-board for (lets say) 3y.
> What do you think about this idea? Would it be worth in long term to
> establish such a leader board (and therefore a change to our current
> constitution) for the Debian Project, or do you think the DPL should
> stay a single person?

A few years back - even last year! - I might have said I'd support such
a board, it is something that's been lingering at the back of my mind
for a long, long time. But no, I would not support such an initiative,
for a multitude of reasons:

First of all, for a board to function well, we need people with similar
vision, who can work together. Electing not one, but 3-5 people is not
only much harder for the project, it is also much more risky, as there
are no guarantees that compatible people will be elected. Trying to
guarantee that with the Constitution or by any other means is just
adding insult to injury.

Over the past year, Zack started the DPL Helpers initiative, which does
show some resemblance to a board, in that it takes load off of the DPL,
makes some of the work the DPL does more transparent, thus making
transitions easier too, and so on and so forth. It has *all* the
benefits of a board, with none of the downsides. All three of the
current candidates have contributed to Zack's initiative, which, for me,
is proof enough that it works. It is still in its infancy, but it
already shows great promise, even though it's only a year old.

It does not need a change in constitution, makes it easier for all
participants to work together better, as they themselves can figure out
if they're compatible, and act accordingly, without any harmful
bureaucracy involved.

Furthermore, I see other issues with a board: how long should members be
elected? One year seems short, unless members are reelected (DPL->DPL
transitions aren't trivial as it is, imagine if that would need to
involve more than two people!). Three years? That's the longest any DPL
ever was in service, do we really want to make that the minimum? Three
years of commitment is a long time. Granted, one can always step down,
but... that just complicates things. We do not need more complex
solutions, especially if the solution is for a problem that does not
necessarily exist in the first place.

I used to think that a board would have tremendous advantages, such as
being able to represent Debian in that role at various events and places
much more frequently than a single person possibly could. But do we need
a board for that? No. We don't. We need people who can do that, and
empower them to do it. The DPL Helpers initiative provides a great forum
for that, in my opinion.

I just don't see anymore what problems a board would solve, that other
solutions can't solve better, therefore, I'd rather encourage those
initiatives that already show promise. Perhaps I've seen too many
otherwise great projects fail in recent years, due to their leadership
board being unable to act and respond to outside events in a timely
manner. I've been frustrated with leader boards being terribly slow, and
argue over miniscule details. I've seen too many of them being far less
agile than our project leaders have been.

I believe we have a fairly good system, that can use improvements like
the DPL Helpers initiative, but it is a good system nevertheless. I see
no need to change what works, and what points forward. There's a lot we
can and should change about, but none of that require abandoning the DPL

Granted, one should be willing to take risks, but amending the
constitution and transitioning to a board is a risk too high, with no
clear benefits. A risk without clear benefits is a risk we should not

- --
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