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Re: draft alternative proposal: fix problem at the root

On Fri, Dec 05, 2014 at 07:13:06PM +0000, Sam Hartman wrote:
> >>>>> "Matthias" == Matthias Urlichs <matthias@urlichs.de> writes:
>     Matthias> I'm more in favor of the TC _being_ that mediation group.
>     Matthias> I don't see any advantage in separating these roles.

So I think there's two styles of dispute resolution that are relevant:

 - "arbitration" - where you have a mutually respected third party review
   the facts, and come to a decision, which both parties are expected to

 - "mediation" - where you have a mutually respected third party help
   the folks having a dispute engage with each other constructively to
   come to a positive, productive and most importantly mutually acceptable

I think it's worth keeping those conceptually separate; if you've got an
arbitrator, it's important to convince them of your position. If you've
got a mediator, what they think is kind-of beside the point.

You could pretty easily have ctte member Alice act as mediator on a
dispute initially, trying to get the problem clearly expressed and to
make sure that everyone's concerns are at least well-understood and to
see if there's a mutually acceptable solution. If there isn't, and both
parties appear to have reasonable concerns, then Alice could recommend the
ctte as a whole arbitrate the dispute at that point. Maybe it would make
sense for Alice to refrain from participating in the arbitration step to
preserve the independence she needed to be involved in mediation.

> Sometimes some tough love in the form of
> "If you don't participate in the discussion and help us understand your
> issue, we'll be unable to adequately consider your point of view," is
> very helpful to get things moving.

While the quoted statement above is strictly true, I'm not sure that's
a great approach to take in practice. It doesn't seem like a "fun"
position to be in, right?

Maybe if a request comes into the ctte from Bob about a disagreement
with Carol, it'd be a better approach to ask Carol if she'd prefer an
attempt at mediation first or immediate arbitration? That way you're at
least giving Carol some control over the process...

That still has the problem in that it still lets Bob make a heavy claim on
Carol's time. For example, if Carol's a release team member working on the
freeze and Bob wants to get a random new upstream accepted into testing,
then in the usual case, I don't think you'd want to force Carol to spend
time additional time in mediation or arguing her case or similar. Maybe
something like:

 - Bob complains to the ctte that foobar needs updating in testing;
   maybe upstream have announced the old version is unsupportable and
   the new version has been heavily tested.

 - Alice looks at Bob's complaint and says it looks like it's worth
   looking into, and sponsors it on behalf of the ctte.

 - Alice emails Carol, asks if Carol would like someone from the ctte to
   help mediate the dispute, indicating Alice, Dave and Emma would be
   willing to do so.

 - Carol picks Dave to mediate, Dave works with Bob and Alice and they come
   up with a reasonable solution, everyone eats cake


 - Dave works with Bob and Alice to enumerate all the concerns,
   but despite both Alice and Bob being cooperative and reasonable, they
   can't come to an agreement. Dave passes on a summary to the ctte and
   recommends they come to a decision on which course of action to take

(Dave doesn't really have to be a ctte member here at all, just someone
who'll be fair to both sides, who's trusted by both sides, and who the
ctte can trust to come up with a useful summary that they can act upon)

(Aside: mediation seems much more compatible with the ideal of reaching

> Yes, getting the TC to be a group that thinks mostly about mediation
> first will take some real work.  I sat in on yesterday's TC meeting
> because I was curious to get a better handle on how the TC works.
> I think that it would take some significant changes and buy-in from the
> current and future members of the TC to bring that about, but I also
> think it's something we as a project should consider seriously.

The way things are set up, the ctte has to decide how to organise
itself, it can't easily rely on the project as a whole to do that for
it. Hopefully exploring some of these ideas/approaches here helps the
ctte work out how they want to improve things.


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