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Re: [all candidates] DPL salary

Stefano Zacchiroli <zack@debian.org> writes:

> On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 01:31:08PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
>> For example, I would question whether one could do the role of DPL with a
>> conventional full-time job in IT, at least if you want to keep any other
>> hobbies outside of those two jobs.  The amount of media and expected
>> travel to represent Debian is rather intimidating (particularly to an
>> introvert), as are the number of things that are relatively
>> time-sensitive and require a lot of effort.
> Thanks for providing the background for a question I wanted to ask!
> I totally agree with you and I'm worried about that. I've been lucky in
> having the flexibility needed to be DPL and I wish the same flexibility
> to the next DPL. But, in terms of Debian sustainability, I'm worried
> that we de facto rely on people having that kind of flexibility to be
> good DPLs. I believe we are losing, via preemptive self-selection, many
> good candidates (from IT or other fields) for precisely that reason.

We're losing out on a lot of good candidates for many, many reasons, and
I do not believe that a DPL salary would help in any way, quite the
contrary! I'll explain below.

> The ground shaking question to all candidates is then: what do you think
> of providing a DPL salary using Debian funds?  I know it is a touchy
> topic, and I propose it on purpose :-P

I do not think this is a good idea, and I would strongly object to such
a proposal. While it does solve one particular problem, that of the DPL
being able to focus all his time on Debian, it also presents quite a lot
of problems, that make the whole thing not worth it.

For me, Debian has always been something I contribute to because I love
doing it. It never was, and never felt like a job. Getting paid to do
it would ruin that for me: I have a job that pays my bills, a job I
love, a job I don't wish to leave. Havin a day job also means I'll have
pension once I'm willing to stop hammering on keyboards. There's plenty
of other things a day job provides, that would be hard for Debian to
accomplish, if for nothing else, then the geographic diversity of DPLs.

> Some further thoughts to foster the discussion:

> - some of the "dunc-tank objections" do not apply to this case, because
>   the DPL is the sole elected role in the project. As such it is already
>   "different" from other volunteers, the difference will not be created
>   by the salary, only acknowledged to make the job sustainable and more
>   appealing. It is also a role that de facto demands to take significant
>   time off your day to day job (on that front, however, it is not the
>   only one --- DSA and security come to mind due to the need of handling
>   emergencies, and there are others)

I do not agree that the DPL position would be different from any other
important role within Debian. The only difference is being elected, and
that's about it. Other roles take quite a lot of time from one's life
too, I would find it worrysome to single out one particular position, no
matter what that position may be.

Yes, the DPL likely travels and speaks a lot more (but that's also a
perk, as far as I'm concerned) than people in other roles may, and these
should not be paid out of one's own pocket, much the same way as people
attending Debian Sprints are often sponsored too. This does not,
however, require a 'DPL salary'.

> - several other, volunteer driven, independent organizations are paying
>   their "leaders" using donated money since quite a while: both GNOME
>   and the FSF pay their executive directors, and there are other
>   examples

Both the FSF and the GNOME Foundation have a different structure than
Debian. What makes sense there, does not necessarily apply to
Debian. They also have more than a single employee. (As opposed to the
DPL being the only one in Debian's case.)

> - invariably, the salaries paid in those settings are significantly
>   lower than IT market salaries; but they still allow to be in that role
>   full-time, although surely not for greed when compared to alternatives

However, there's one thing a DPL salary does not provide: a stable
job. Noone served as DPL for more than three years yet, and only you
served that long. With a job, one can feel secure, does not need to
worry yearly about the election (or look for another job, would one
decide not to run again). That stability is something I do not wish to
give up, and something that being paid for being a DPL would not
provide. I mean, even if one's confident about his or her provess to be
elected year after year, history tells us that none held the office
longer than three years. On the other hand, a lot of people held their
job for far more than that.

Also note that salaries vary wildly around the world, one won't be able
to find a good balance. (For example, with my current salary, if I'd
move to the US, I'd be broke within a few months, yet I can sustain a
convenient life here in Hungary.)

> - deciding to pay the DPL is likely a one-way step, from which it will
>   be hard to get back (there are studies showing that in volunteer
>   communities the motivation for doing something for free will be
>   irremediably lost once you offer remuneration)

Can't speak for anyone else, but I would feel discouraged if the
position would be a paid job. I'd still run, but opt out. However, there
would always be a bad feeling lingering at the back of my mind, that I'd
have the option to get paid for what I chose to do, while others who do
just as much for Debian, may not. Sooner or later, this would take its
toll, in my opinion.

> - we do have money, but paying a salary on a yearly basis is something
>   that could make a significant dent in our reserves and, more
>   importantly, in our fund-raising efforts to make it sustainable

That's another reason not to do it. There's plenty of ways to spend that
money better.

Also, history so far shows, that DPLs have been able to serve, even when
they also held a job at the same time. It would be interesting to figure
out whether there are potential people who did not run for office, but
would have, if they were paid to for being DPL. I'd also compare that
number to how it relates to not running for a multitude of other reasons.

> - paying DPL in different parts of the world over time will be tricky
>   and might be very hard to do (properly) in specific countries due to
>   embargoes and the like

There's also a lot of local laws that make this very hard, and if we
can't provide it for anyone who may get elected, we should not do it at


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