Jeroen van Wolffelaar's blog

Mon, 16 Oct 2006

How I'm going to recall the Dunc-Tank saga

Percentage of Debian Developers preferring new elections to having AJ as DPL in March/April: 17.3%.

Percentage of Debian Developers preferring new elections to having AJ as DPL in October: 14.8%

That's right. contrary to what one would expect from merely reading the mailinglists, an even larger majority now finds AJ acceptable as DPL. This does not render the objections of the couple dozen DDs irrelevant though, diversity is a great good. However, diversity can easily escalate to divisiveness when different opinions or more accurately the ways they are voiced start to severely hinder activity by others. I myself have been quite demotived by the whole discussion, as has happened to me multiple times before. We Developers do not seem to be able to have constructive discussion without getting extremely heated up.

I believe that this inability to hold discussions about tricky subjects is way more hurting the project than any of the "tricky subjects" themselves. Actually, the tidbit in my DPL-elections platform about Communication among Debian contributors is still equally relevant.

Several potential improvements have been proposed in the past, including debating by wiki, debating inside a smaller taskforce, or even having a representative democracy.

Let's explore the representative democracy principle a bit further: In general, I consider making decisions by GR (or to draw a parallel to country government, referendum) bad: A majority of voters doesn't have adequate and balanced information to make a reasonable decision, that takes doing quite some research. Instead, any discussion (vote winning?) is going to be significantly depending on emotions. Take the voting-down of the European constitution by France and the Netherlands: Hardly anyone has adequate information to really make a tradeoff, still quite a number of people voted, and supposedly one of most prevalent considerations was fear of this "Europe" thingy. Therefore, I'd really prefer that issues like firmware are dealt with by smallish team of people who really can look into the issue well, consider all arguments either way, and make a decision. As with every decision in Debian, it can be overturned by GR, but still. Note that we don't need any consitutional change for this, the DPL already has the power to delegate a person or group of people to make some decision nobody else specifically is responsible for already. A complicating factor is though that it's hard to compose such a taskforce that will have the project's support once a discussion is 'heated up'.

In other news, rumour has it that -private has blown up today. I'm so looking forward to opening that mailfolder.

posted at: 03:06 | path: /debian | permanent link to this entry

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