How to motivate contributors to work on QA
Dear DPL candidates,
the topic of paying developers for Debian work has been raised a few
times in abstract terms, and in your answers, I think you made it more
or less clear where you stand.
However, looking at this from the other side of the argument, I still
believe that relying on pure volunteer work has significant downsides to
the quality of our distribution, downsides that IMO could or should
easily be avoided by a project that receives non-negligible amounts of
donations (some of which, I assume, were given precisely to maintain and
improve the its quality).
I'd like to give you two concrete, specific examples where I think that
pure volunteer work meets its limits, bothr related to QA work. Insofar
as you agree with me on these examples, I'm interested in hearing your
suggestions one what you, as DPL, could/would do to address these examples.
[I'm clearly biased towards financially motivating developers, because
that's what I believe some of the donations are intended for. At least,
that's my motivation when I donate to other FOSS projects. But I'm
interested in hearing any form of solution.]
Example #1: Orphaned/RFA'd packages
Orphaned packages are packages that, by definition, no one is interested
in maintaining. There are no volunteers willing to commit to them.
However, some of these packages are important to the Debian ecosystem.
For example, schroot is a key package for our infrastructure and for
many contributors, yet it's been orphaned since 2018. Other orphaned
packages are less visible directly, but may have dozens of affected
I think it's fair to say that RFA'd packages are closely related to this.
Example 2#: Undermaintained packages, especially in stable
This is something that every contributor, including me, can probably
There are some packages that have a maintainer, but that maintainer does
not have sufficient time to devote to the package, sometimes to the
point where filing a bug is pointless.
Some of these issues can be fixed by NMU. Many aren't. For example, I
think the share of non-DSA security issues and important bugs that can
be fixed in stable could be much larger, but that's quite a bit of extra
work compared to fixing something in unstable.
[This is *not* intended to be a shaming or something. I myself have been
in the position where for personal reasons, I simply had zero time for
Debian, and didn't even read my Debian account mail for more than a year.]
Addressing these two examples would clearly make Debian an even better
product. And I say this not as a contributor, but as a user who is
frequently affected by the above two examples.
My question to you is: If you share my view that the above two examples
are significant problems, what could you, as DPL, concretely do to