Draft resolution formalising Debian's Associated Project status

Jimmy Kaplowitz jimmy at spi-inc.org
Fri Mar 16 17:09:47 UTC 2007

On Fri, Mar 16, 2007 at 04:39:05PM +0000, Ian Jackson wrote:
> I think this is going in a reasonable direction but I still have a
> slight problem with it, which is that it shifts the dictatorship from
> the DPL to the Secretary.  You say
> > the Secretary is the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution
> but in fact they are not empowered off their own bat to interpret the
> constitution however they like.  There has to be a dispute.

Well, my wording still leaves the DPL as primary decision communicator,
as is appropriate. In those cases where the Secretary's assertions are
acted upon by SPI in contradiction of the DPL's assertions, there
clearly is a dispute at least between those two DDs, and therefore the
Secretary is empowered to interpret the constitution. In cases where the
Secretary's assertions do not contradict those of the DPL, I don't see
how my wording gives the Secretary any more dictatorial powers than in
your wording. My revisions to paragraph 5 were also intended to be a
counterbalance on the Secretary.

> Having seen how the power to interpret the constitution has been used,
> with hindsight I would not have vested it in the Secretary; the TC
> would probably have been a better choice since it (a) consists of
> several different people and (b) avoids some of the situations which
> look rather too much like self-dealing.

That's a moot point for this discussion, though you could always propose
a constitutional amendment within Debian.

> Would you accept
>  5. The Board relies on Debian Developers and others to ensure the Board
>  is made aware of any situations where there is disagreement on the
>  identity or authority of the Debian Project Leader or the Debian
>  Project Secretary.

That opens up a denial of service attack where if any two individuals
(whether DDs or media people or whoever else) disagree on what the DPL
has the authority to do, the Board is inviting emails on every such
occasion, and we could get overwhelmed with emails we theoretically
requested if someone wants to be mischievous. Even if you restrict it to
only disagreement among DDs, the problem doesn't get much better,
because there will always be at least two DDs who disagree on the
authority of the DPL or the Secretary.

My wording was specifically intended to resolve those conflicts between
the two recognized Debian contacts to SPI for which the default
resolution (i.e., Secretary wins) would be unfair. I'd prefer if SPI
didn't have to at least contemplate every disagreement among DDs or the
public that doesn't affect SPI in any way.

> Note that we're only asking DD's to _make the board aware_.  After
> that they're not supposed to keep bothering us - we can say `thank you
> we are aware, now we will consider it and there is no need to mail us
> any more'.

Yes, I realize this. It's still a DoS because almost no group of the
size of Debian (or larger) will be ever free of disagreements on these

> If we're worried about people CCing the board on hideous flamewars we
> can explicitly ask them not to do that.  For example:
>  3. The SPI Board does not intend to monitor the Debian mailing lists
>  and does not wish to be copied on any discussions of political
>  disputes carried out on those lists.   ....

I dislike flamewars as much as anyone, but there might be legitimate
circumstances for such a CC buried within all the flaming, so I'd prefer
to leave this out.

- Jimmy Kaplowitz
jimmy at spi-inc.org

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