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Re: Thoughts/questions for any candidate

Hi AJ,

(A fair amount of snipping follows, but hopefully there's still the
context :)

On Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 01:20:15AM +0000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> the DPL position is /the/ optimal place to be in Debian if you want to
> be innovative.
> Is it fair to expect cool new innovations within Debian if all the
> attention goes to someone who's not doing cool new stuff?
> So, specific question: do you also see this as problem worth attending
> to? Do you have any solutions in mind?

(Possibly not directed at me, but I'll answer anyway)

Similar to in any organisation, there's a (in my opinion) somewhat
skewed emphasis on the leader/head of that organisation providing the
progress. My view is that it's essential that the DPL highlights the
extremely cool things that the rest of the project is doing.

Huge kudos here to the publicity team for helping raise some of that,
and highlighting the work that goes on around the project.
Personally, I'd like more people involved here, but 'more people' is a
constant cry from lots of places :)

I believe that the DPL role can help show what Debian is doing as a
project as a whole, but should also make sure that sufficient kudos is
shared around to others. Slightly tangentially, I think it's a shame that
the thanks.debian.net/thank-you.debian.net has disappeared, it's a great
tool for sharing the appreciation of users and fellow developers in the

> Number two is something in that nature of "how to share the DPL's
> workload". I think this is widely acknowledged as a challenge, eg:
> I have three thoughts on that. First is that (I believe) one of the
> biggest workloads for the DPL is conflict resolution/mediation. But
> there's recently been some talk about the tech ctte addressing that same
> issue eg [1], [2]. It's obviously an open question whether it will work
> or not, but I'd be interested to know if the DPL candidates are thinking
> of trying to help make it work, and (if/when it does) to refer folks to
> the ctte freeing up DPL-time for other things?

Firstly, I'd try and encourage the two people to actually talk to each
other, be it in person, via $favourite_telephony_video_conference or
whatever. As I'm sure everyone is aware, there's substantial
difficulties in portaging subtlety in text based communications, and a
reminder that there's a person on the other side of an email address is
often useful. The old adage is that "It's hard to stay mad at someone
you've been drinking with".

That said, I'm not sure that the tech-ctte itself is the correct place.
What a good mediation needs is:
* Both parties to want to come to an agreement, not simply "win" their
* Someone to help facilitate that who is trusted by both sides.

Some times, the former doesn't happen, which leads to arbitration. For
the latter though, we need people who are willing to do it, and would be
seen as acceptable. Currently, that's a rather small pool (DPL is the
default choice) but I would certainly be interested in handing over that
to others who are interested and willing. We've had a number of people
step down from the committee recently, and a few new people who have
shown interest and great skill at coming to agreements. I'd like to
first see if they'd be interested in helping out with this role.

> There have been lots of ideas on how to scale the DPL role.
> At some point, we need a DPL who'll take one of the previous ideas
> that worked a little, improve it only slightly (ie, so it's still
> recognisable), and turn it into a tradition that can keep improving.
> Any chance of that happening this year?

Sure. I'm keen to try and make the DPL job more sustainable. That was my
primary concern when deciding to run the first time, and also this time.
However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So, I intend to
offload whatever I can get away with from the DPL job.

(A slight footnote: I think the DPL should still be accountable to make
things happen, but not to do those things themselves. I'd like to try
and devolve away tasks, but still make sure they're happening)

> Third is just this: there are two people who've just volunteered
> (more or less) a year of their life to helping enable other folks make
> Debian awesome who aren't going to be elected DPL. AFAICT you've all
> got compatible ideas and can work together okay. So, if you're DPL,
> how are you going to enable the two losing candidates to enable others
> and otherwise do awesome leadery things?

If people want to do things that benefit Debian, then they should be
able to get on with it. If that needs any help from the DPL in terms of
delegations, or funds, or just a section in a bits mail to help draw
attention to it, then let's do that. I want to enable people to try new
things, we should embrace this in Debian.


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