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Re: Your opinion on Debian Maintainer status

Jonathan Nieder <jrnieder@gmail.com> writes:

> Gergely Nagy wrote:
>> Wouter Verhelst <wouter@debian.org> writes:
>>>> Arno Töll <arno@debian.org> writes:
>>>>> In fact, even the wiki says "Becoming a Debian Developer: You should be
>>>>> a Debian Maintainer for six months before applying to the Debian New
>>>>> Member Process" [1]. That's somewhat different to the original idea of
>>>>> the DM status and not really a direction we should endorse.
> [...]
>>> Note that, first, the NM frontdesk has always been willing to fast-track
>>> someone who is "obviously" skilled (with "obviously" being vague on
>>> purpose) and, second, that the DM step is not required for emeritus
>>> developers returning to Debian.
>> This is exactly why I think it is such a bad idea. Because it is too
>> easy to make it sound like DM is a stepping stone to becoming a DD. It
>> is not. It is *one* of its aspects, a useful one, but in my opinion, far
>> from being the most important one.
> I do not even agree that it is useful as a stepping stone.

I'll have to disagree, I'm afraid.

> DM privileges recognize that a contributor should not have to wait on
> a DD to apply improvements within a specific domain where the DM has
> shown she can be trusted.  This can be a good way for a new
> contributor to become useful to the project and to make daily
> maintenance less painful while waiting for recognition as a DD, sure.

...therefore, it can be useful as a stepping stone.

> With the specific goal of preparing to be a Debian Developer as
> quickly as possible in mind, though, it mostly hurts:
>  * Becoming a DD means gaining familiarity with how a variety of
>    procedures affect the entire archive.  DM privileges create a
>    temptation to work only on your own packages and not pay attention
>    to others'.

On the other hand, working on your packages only at first is still
useful: you get to learn how to deal with bugreports; getting ported;
how your package may affect others (if there's any that
depend/build-depend on yours); how other packages and transitions affect

These are all useful things to learn, and available for DMs too.

(Yes, all of these are available opportunities even if one's not a DM,
but gets sponsored - but it's very different when you experience these
on your own, than when through a sponsor.)

>  * Becoming a DD means gaining an understanding of how other
>    developers work and think and how to interact with them.  DM
>    privileges create a possibility of working (and contributing
>    usefully!) without needing to interact with other people, and
>    losing an exposure to mentors' styles and insights.

Both issues you listed are things that 'may' happen. Some bad things
that may happen will not make the entire idea for that domain
useless. Every DM-uploaded package had a DD grant the DM permissions for
it, every DM has had an advocate - I would expect these people to have a
rough idea what the DM wants to achieve: does she want to become a DD
eventually? If so, help her. If not, leave her to her packages.

DMs should not be left out in the cold, so to say, once they have their
status. DM-ship is an opportunity, in a sense. If one does not use the
benefits it provides, it will, indeed, not be much of a help in
preparing one to become a DD. But it does give you the opportunity to
get better prepared. That, in my opinion, makes the status useful as a
stepping stone.

> The DM process is an excellent answer to new contributors asking the
> question "Why must I wait so long for my improvements to be
> incorporated in Debian?"  On the other hand, I think it is a bad
> answer to "I want to be a Debian Developer.  What is the first step?"

It is a bad answer to the second question, yes. The correct answer is
"Start contributing.". Becoming a DM can be one step in that process
(though, it will not be start).


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