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Re: [all candidates] beyond tech: how do you deal with humans?

anarcat <anarcat@debian.org> writes:

> You all have an impressive technical curriculum. Your deeds in Debian
> speak for themselves. However, the role of a project leader is unusually
> non-technical. In fact, you will have to abandon significant technical
> tasks to tend to more "administrative" or "leadership" tasks the DPL
> role requires.

That I may have impressive technical contributions is something I tend
not to believe. You see, even though I am a software engineer by trade,
(which trade happens to be my hobby), my true passion lies with words
and human arts. It's a twisted turn of events that my hobby supports my
passion, and not the other way around.

As such, leaving (some|most) of the technical stuff behind, and
exchanging it for administrativa, mediation, lots and lots of
communication, inspiration and all those things is not going to be
something new. In various settings, I've had experience doing all that

> Why are you good candidates for that role? What social skills do you
> bring to the community in terms of mediation and leadership?

I'm pretty darn good at mediation, did that both inside Debian (see an
example shortly below) and outside of it. It is something I find
challenging and satisfying, an area where I have had great success in
the past, an area I find particularly interesting (people *are*
interesting in general).

I speak, I teach, I coach regularly on various topics (Debian included,
of course), other times, I use a handful of magic dust, and make things
simple. On other occassions, I evangelise. One of my fondest moments of
recent years were hearing these words - said very quietly under her
breath -, by a person who's been hating GNU/Linux for the past decade or
so: "Can you get me a Debian sticker? I love Debian."

Other times, I listen, and just stay invisible.

To illustrate my skills, let me briefly mention a few accomplishments:

- We have the Budapest Clojure User Group meetups running, even though
  it is still a nieche language, and out of the ~15-20 people who attend
  the meetups, most of them don't even use Clojure. They found the
  events and their 'advertisement' interesting. They keep coming back
  for more.

  I help organise these events, I talk, and I help bring people
  in. That's administrativa, communication and inspiration right
  there. ;)

- In a few months, I will spend 100% of my paid time working on free

  I started the initiative at work, I made compromises (like the status
  quo of 50% support / 50% free software work), I made the case for it,
  and did not back down even when things looked bleak. I made them want
  it too. This even involved financial stuff, which I dislike, a
  lot. Many people in different positions and ideals had to be
  persuaded, they had to be enlightened, and they had to become
  motivated to help me push this deal through.

- I gave Debian packaging tutorials at work (at one point, we gave a ~6
  hour marathon of it with my former boss, that was wicked awesome [not
  my words, either]), which are in such high demand that I will have to
  give more.

There's one more feat I'm particularly proud of, you'll find it below,
because that also answers your last question.
> How would you have dealt with the difficult decisions the previous DPL
> had to make regarding various conflicts or problems that occurred during
> his mandate(s)? Would you have intervened? How?

This is something I'd rather not answer, on one hand, because it would
take too long, and on another, because in the most interestring (for
some values of interesting, anyway) cases, I simply do not have enough
historical data to see the whole picture, therefore can't make a well
informed judgement, either.

> Could you give an example of such a situation where you have
> successfully mediated a (potential) conflict? Which tools did you use to
> deal with the situation?

Although this happened years and years ago, when I was young, foolish
and hot-headed, there's one particular feat I'm proud of to this day. I
was an Application Manager at the time, and there was this particular
person who pissed off pretty much everyone in existence: ftp-masters,
prominent maintainers and project members, the Debian Account
Manager. So much so, that he had multiple threads over the course of a
few months (if I recall correctly) all complaints about his behaviour.

We worked together to resolve these issues, it took a long time, but in
the end, he ended up becoming a Debian Developer, worked with the very
same people whom he pissed off before, and some amazing things were
accomplished later on. While skirmishes did occur later too, things did
turn out fairly well for everyone in the end.

To this day, I'm proud that I helped him achieve that, that with our
combined work, he'd become a great collegue to work with the same people
who strongly objected to him even applying for a Debian Developer

This was a tough and dire situation, at a time when I wasn't half as
much prepared, not half as much experienced as I am now.


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