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Re: What do you want to learn?


On Tue, Aug 03, 2004 at 06:35:41PM -0700, Carla Schroder wrote:
> Akkana and I are not the only ones who have the impression that the NM
> process is difficult. If it's not all that bad, then there appears to
> be a bit of a perception problem. Because this isn't something that I
> just picked up out of the blue, I've heard many rants from people
> going through it. 

There are four things here I guess.

1. The New-Maintainer (NM) process is quite easy *WHEN* you are already
part of the (technical) Debian community. I.e., if you have packaged
stuff for quite a while, followed the discussions about the important
technical issues and read the relevant documentation. It is not a good
idea to apply first and then try to learn everything on-the-fly.

2. Different Application Managers (AMs) have different expectations of
their NMs. Some ask just a couple of questions, some ask really huge
amounts of questions, or require other stuff the NM should do. This is
somewhat of a general problem of the NM process. However, complains
about this are really rare until now.

3. Quite a number of people think that the final approval step is taking
unjustified amounts of time where the applicant is left in some sort of
limbo, not knowing what to do.

All I can say here is that patience is definetely needed at some points
of the process. The involved people are all doing other stuff for Debian
as well, which is frequently even more important than the NM process.

However, recently, there has been an additional step introduced, namely
the approval by the front desk. The front desk is quite overworked as
well, but usually gets around doing NM work more often than the Debian
Account Manager (DAM), who does the final approval.

This basically means that if you have been approved by your AM and the
Frontdesk, chances are about 98% that you are going to be approved by
the DAM as well, the only uncertainty is 'when'. 

Most of the frustration comes from people who are unsure about their
status and fear the DAM might have silently dropped/rejected them
without letting them know, resulting in rants and flame-wars on public

So my advice here is to i) be patient and help the project along while
you're waiting and ii) send requests to the front-desk and NOT to the
DAM directly and especially not to public mailing lists. While the DAM
has repeatedly stated that he is not treating people who ask about their
status in any other way, the *project* suffers from that because either
one of its most important participants has to answer unneeded mail or
considerable amounts of people are engaged in public flame wars.

4. There are a handful (literally) of people who have been rejected and
there are some others who refuse to start the NM process becaus of 'the
DAM being the person James Troup, who is a kid-eating monster'. Those
people are quite vocal in certain communication channels but do not
reflect the opinion of the project (or represent the NM process) in any
way. Do not listen to them.

> I don't remember the details now, but a couple folks posted here that
> the most difficult part was waiting several weeks or more for a
> decision.

Indeed. If you are not prepared to wait for several months (sic!) for
the creation of your account, you should reconsider your application.

That said, you can still do very useful work during that time. Usually,
you would have a regular sponsor who trusts you so far as that they[1]
just upload your packages without large delays. The 'collaborative
maintainership program' Debian is loosely doing for a while now allows
for easily maintaining packages without having an account. For example,
there are numerous non-DDs part of the Debian-GNOME team on
alioth.debian.org (check out the '*-guest' accounts at
http://alioth.debian.org/project/memberlist.php?group_id=30194). The
usual procedure (AFAIK) here is that all the 'debian' parts of the GNOME
packages are in a central cvs/svn repository at alioth.debian.org where
all the team-members can commit to (every package still has one or two
primary maintainers though). The 'guests' just commits their
changes/updates  to the repository and of the many DDs then uploads the

The debian-women community could also prove very helpful in helping
female NMs getting their packages sponsored. I don't know whether it
would be helpful to use alioth.debian.org in a similar fashion, i.e.
female NMs (or DDs) import the debian/ directories of their packages
there and other DDs then upload them.

> It might be helpful to write up the experiences of one or two NMs who
> have recently gone through it. 


already has such testimony :)

One thing I would like to add at the end: Please do not advocate people
just because they are women and you would like to see them in the
project. I'm very glad that so many women have stated their intent to
participate in Debian, but joining the NM process unprepared might lead
to frustration on both ends.

I sent this text to another list last week:

"You should only advocate NMs when you have worked with them for a
considerable amount of time, reviewed their work and feel confident that
they would i) fit into the project well and ii) pass the current NM
process without problems."

Help them get into the Debian community, sponsor their packages and
guide them along. It is of course also the responsibility of the male
Debian community to help the interested women here.

rock on,


[1] Oops, that was close :)

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