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Re: Recruiting volunteers - or, why should I become a DD?

* Almut Behrens <almut-behrens@gmx.net> [2004:08:05 00:42 +0200]: 
> I guess I'm probably going to get beaten from all sides, get accused
> of being a troll, or simply be ignored, for this attitude of mine.
> So, if it helps, let me mention up front that I do not intend to offend
> anyone, even if my wording may sound a little provocative at times.

You won't see me flaming. Hopefully no one will flame. :) 

> Personally, I'm still in the phase of not even knowing myself whether
> I in fact would want to become a DD -- independently of whether my
> skills, knowledge and general aptitude would be considered sufficient. 
> The essential questions for me are:  What will I be able to do then,
> that I can't do now?  Why is it made difficult to contribute at all?
> Is it really all about trustworthyness?

I'd say trustworthiness and quality are the two main factors. 

> So, what is it that's so attractive for people to want to become a DD? 
> Sure, there are some psychological aspects (ego boost, or some such),
> but it can't be just that. Of course, it feels good to show off to your
> geek friends with a shiny @debian.org addy, unquestionably implying
> that you managed to be accepted and got the accolade by the Grand Club.
> But what else is it?

I'm attracted to the community. I've met a lot of really wonderful people
since becoming involved and I immensely enjoy working with them. It is
quite possible (and easy) to remain on the fringes of the developments, but
it's a lot easier to get sucked into the Debian vortex. In my case, it
hasn't so much been something I went searching for as much as it was
something that has just naturally progressed. 

> Don't get me wrong. I'm generally very fond of the Debian Project as a
> whole, and I've undoubtedly taken advantage of the hard work that other
> people have put into it.  So, just out of a sense of fairness, I
> wouldn't mind giving something back to the community -- after all,
> that's my understanding of how the F/OSS community works.

This may be something that's not commonly known -- it appears that way at
least, after speaking to a few people. You don't need to be a Debian
developer to contribute to Debian. You can maintain packages (with the help
of a sponsor to upload them), you can contribute documentation,
translations, website maintenance, bug fixes, testing, and myriad other
things. You needn't go through the entire NM process in order to "give

> No doubt, Debian will certainly survive without me, but so will I
> without being a DD.  Just in case there are more people like me, aren't
> we unnecessarily losing potential contributors by making some steps
> harder than absolutely required?
> (Mind you, I'm not saying I'd have immensely valuable stuff to offer,
> at least not at the moment -- but maybe others have...)

I think the issue is mostly a lack of clarity. As time goes on, I find more
and more stuff I can contribute without having an @debian.org email

> Okay, I have to admit seeing quite a number of people actually going to
> the trouble of applying... So, there's obvious empirical evidence that
> not everyone is thinking like me.  But maybe there would be a few more
> people (both women and men) willing to donate some of their spare time,
> work and abilities, if they weren't discouraged in one way or another.
> So, why selectively cater for only those geeks with the appropriate
> mindset and motivational disposition to join the please-let-me-in game?

A common issue with volunteer organizations is that sometimes people just
stop working. You can't force them to start again. With something like an
operating system, it's a potential security liability, as well as a simple
quality assurance issue. It behooves organizations like Debian to carefully
select who they allow access to their machines and, by extension, root
access on user machines. 

off the chain like a rebellious guanine nucleotide

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