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Re: draft alternative proposal: fix problem at the root

Anthony Towns writes ("Re: draft alternative proposal: fix problem at the root"):
> 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.

Basic principles:

 * Mediators seek consensus and try to work within the existing power
   relationships.  They try to determine if a compromise is possible
   and if so what that compromise is.

 * Arbitrators try to produce the "right" answer (which might be
   technically, legally, socially, or whatever), sometimes according
   to a body of rules or caselaw or sometimes not.

In the "real world" it's well established that mediation tends to
result in worse results for the weaker party than arbitration, because
the weaker party is worse off if there is no agreement.

This happens even if the mediation is a precursor to possible
arbitration/litigation (that is, if it is mediation in an effort to
avoid arbitration/litigation), because the weaker party typically has
less confidence in the arbitration/litigation process or less ability
to engage with it.

I don't know whether this latter factor would remain true in Debian
but it seems likely.  The TC has historically been quite deferential
to core teams, and a maintainer has a constitutionally built-in
advantage over a bug submitter.

> 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.

It is IMO a bad idea to have mediation and arbitration done by
different people.

If the arbitrators are not the same as the mediators, then any dispute
that goes via the mediators to the arbitrators has to be explained and
explored (at least) three times, rather than two: once by the
submitter to the maintainer; once by the submitter and maintainer to
the mediator; and then finally by the submitter and maintainer to the

That's obviously undesirable because it prolongs the dispute and
requires a great deal more of everyone's time.

> 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:

I think that the TC ought to keep these kind of questions in mind when
managing its business.

The TC has certainly in the past dismissed complaints as ill-founded
without needing a great deal of explanation from the maintainer.  The
TC is also capable of postponing a discussion until the appropriate


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