Draft resolution formalising Debian's Associated Project status

Bdale Garbee bdale at gag.com
Tue Mar 6 14:53:12 UTC 2007

On Tue, 2007-03-06 at 04:59 -0800, Joshua D. Drake wrote:
> > IMO this is not the first time he has overstepped the mark
> >   
> I have zero clue on the history here, but I must say.. if only 15% of 
> the people were upset, I am unsure of what the problem is. 15% is 
> nothing in the grand scheme of things.
> > In particular, Anthony seems to be playing the role of Debian's SPI
> > advisor here - and what he is telling us inflates his own authority!
> >
> Does the Debian constitution have a limits on what his authority 
> represents? Perhaps the problem is ambiguity on the part of Debian?


For the benefit of those not familiar with the depths of Debian history,
let me provide a little context.  Ian played a significant role in the
drafting of the Debian constitution.  The precipitous departure of Bruce
Perens from the project during the first leader election season, when he
and Ian were the two candidates, left Ian as the third and last DPL to
not be elected by the developers.  Every DPL since has been elected
using the processes defined in the constitution.

Section 4.1 makes it clear that the developers by way of a general
resolution can overrule anything the DPL does.  However, 5.1.10 and
5.1.11 make it equally clear that the DPL or an explicit DPL delegate is
who SPI should expect to interact with on a routine basis for decisions
regarding property held in trust for Debian.  To the best of my
knowledge, the developers by way of a GR have never used the power in
4.1 to overrule a DPL decision... so that's an "escape valve" and not a
routine part of the Debian experience.

Decisions of the developers by way of a GR will always require time to
make.  Sections 4.2.3-4 make it clear that "weeks" are involved.
Section 5.1.3 therefore explicitly notes that the DPL is empowered to
make any decision that "requires urgent action".  By implication, the
developers by way of a GR should not expect to make many decisions
directly, and should instead focus on electing a DPL who adequately
represents their majority intent on routine matters.

> Further my experience is that if 15% of a particular group is unhappy, 
> usually the person made a good choice. 40%? Not so much.

That's a good point.  

My impression is that some of the most vigorous debates in the Debian
project in the last year have come when Anthony proposed doing something
"new", and following the spirit of 5.3, tried to build consensus for his
ideas among the developers before taking action.  I've had some
interesting conversations with developers on three continents in recent
weeks about the power of a vocal minority to influence, distract, and
even disrupt a community operating largely by consensus.  My personal
take is that as long as the DPL is actively trying to build consensus,
and acting in accord with the majority of developers, *the system is


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