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Re: draft alternative proposal: fix problem at the root

Sam Hartman writes ("Re: draft alternative proposal: fix problem at the root"):
> into a body that's good at helping people make these sorts of decisions
> when there is conflict.  I think it will be as much about mediation,
> about asking people to work together, about pointing out to people they
> are talking past each other, about asking people to reconsider their
> decisions with certain criteria in mind than about overriding people.

A lot of this discussion has focused on the power wielded by the TC.
But the power of the TC is actually rather weak.  Someone looking for
an overrule needs to persuade almost all of the committee.

On the other side of the scales is the massive (in the context of
Debian) and often completely unaccountable power wielded by package
maintainers.  So long as a maintainer doesn't introduce bugs which are
arguably RC, and they don't touch on DFSG problems, they can do almost
entirely what they like, without regard to the opinion of anyone else.

If you want to see what the unbridled exercise of fiat power looks
like, see the issue described by my comments here:

Consensus-seeking, clear communication, and all that kind of thing,
are notably absent.  And a maintainer who acts that way can usually
get away with it.

Of course most DDs are package maintainers as well, so a vigorous TC
does present a threat to our own power, as well as an opportunity for
escape or relief from the power of others.

But the TC is very far from being an out of control and unaccountable
oligarchy.  The unaccountable oligarchies are the individual package
maintainers (including teams, which are often quite like-minded).

Luckily (because we are as a community so strongly focused on doing
what's right) most are benevolent.  But when they aren't, without help
from the TC, an out-of-control maintainer's victims are left helpless.

GRs and Release Team and ftpmaster interventions are impractical tools
for addressing such a situation.  Mediation and consensus-seeking is
ineffective if the maintainer doesn't want to engage.

In summary, if we want to look for more consensus-seeking in our
decisionmaking, and better negotiation, we should strengthen and
encourage the TC.  We should not undermine it, and not criticise the
TC for acting vigorously.  Being a little humbler, when we don our
respective maintainer hats, would be a good thing.

I am worried that the rhetoric of mediation and consensus leaves
little room for justice (by which I mean the remedy of power
inequalities).  We should be challenging the actually existing power
relations.  That is what the TC is for.


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