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From: "Jorge Manuel B. S. Vicetto" <jmbsvicetto@g.o>
Subject: Re: [GLEP 39 overhaul] Do we want to make changes to the role of the council?
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 2010 03:27:44 +0000
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On 22-04-2010 21:55, Richard Freeman wrote:
> On 04/22/2010 07:41 AM, Jorge Manuel B. S. Vicetto wrote:
>> My concern here is the idea that the council should be able to "disband"
>> a project or turn it around 180 degrees. If we open the door to this,
>> then we'll be throwing away the principles that any developer can create
>> a project, that a team acts as its members choose to and that in the end
>> some choices fall to those who do the work.
> 
> Not at all - developers could still do all of this, as long as they
> don't do anything so drastically bad for the distro that the council
> would need to step in.
> 
> The council should of course use discretion in its actions, and it
> should always just talk to somebody before they go booting people/etc.
> 
>> Besides, if the council
>> were to "disband" a team or try to force a policy on it, how do you
>> think that would work if there were no team members left and no one
>> stepped up?
> 
> Again, a good reason for the council to use discretion.  However, in
> some cases it would be better to not have a team at all than to have a
> team acting contrary to the overall distro's interests.
> 
>> Finally, in extreme cases, the council can also have a word
>> regarding individual developers and or projects.
> 
> How?  This is exactly what I'm proposing - that in extreme cases the
> council can intervene directly as needed.  If the council can't do this,
> then how can they "have a word" unless you literally mean nothing more
> than words.

I read your proposal as giving unlimited powers to the council without
some form of check and balances. I gather from your last reply that you
want to ensure they have enough leeway to be able to act, but that they
should only do it in extreme cases. It seems there's room to try to find
a balance.

>> Gentoo isn't exactly a "democracy" and therefore such comparisons
>> usually are not adequate for us.
> 
> Perhaps not purely so, it is a bit more of a meritocracy, but it is
> essentially democratic.  I don't see why democracy is a bad thing, as
> long as it doesn't involve those who don't do anything wielding power
> over those who do.  Having at least a little control over the membership
> roles should mitigate this.

I don't think democracy is bad, I just wanted to highlight that not
everything in Gentoo is subject to democratic rules.

>> Gentoo (the distribution) is not a Corporation, so that comparison isn't
>> adequate as well.
> 
> What is a corporation?  It is essentially a body of people aligned to a
> common purpose.  The same governance models apply to everything from
> businesses to clubs to professional organizations to churches to
> parliaments.  Perhaps all these organizations have figured out that this
> model works fairly well - or at least better than the alternatives.
> Honestly, I don't really see what cohesive alternative you're offering
> other than a loose confederation with oversight by closed bodies.

You have a point as I haven't submitted any alternative yet. I do want
to submit a proposal but I'm still thinking about it and evaluating old
thoughts about Gentoo's meta-structure.

>> But Developer Relations isn't a "Boy's Club" or the only "not so open"
>> group in Gentoo. There's also User Relations. The infrastructure team,
>> for its own responsibility and abilities, as far as I know, has always
>> invited members in and doesn't have open membership. To a certain extent
>> the QA team has worked that way too and I'm sure most of us would like
>> QA members to exhibit certain qualities. Then there's PR.
> 
> I don't think that any of these organizations are doing a bad job.  I'm
> not sure they should be open to anybody who wants to sign up.  However,
> there should always be oversight.  That is really all I'm proposing.
> Having council oversight actually frees up these organzations to not
> feel as beholden to admit devs at large, since the council can hold them
> accountable.
> 
> In the end there will always be oversight - right now it isn't written
> down, but in the end SOMEBODY or some group is in charge.  I guess it
> effectively is whoever has root on the servers, or perhaps the trustees
> since they can determine who can use the name Gentoo.  All I'm saying is
> that we should realize that governance is necessary and set up the best
> form of governance we can have.

I agree fully with you about oversight. I don't think any project on
Gentoo can and should be able to run without oversight. My question is
about what type of oversight and what tools it should have at its disposal.

>> A former council did have some influence, not directly in the KDE
>> project, but by having DevRel evaluate and act on one of its members -
>> at the time the Lead. That action did had a profound impact in the
>> project - it almost killed it and it took a long time for KDE to get
>> back in shape.
> 
> And in the end, was Gentoo as a whole better off or worse off? Sometimes
> you need to take a step back to take a step forward.  I have no idea
> what the specifics of this situation were, so I can't comment on whether
> I agree or disagree with what the council did.  However, if a key
> contributor to Gentoo is doing more harm than good by driving others
> away, then it might be better for them to not be around.

I purposely avoided making a judgement about that decision. All I wanted
to do is to pick in an example from a team you mentioned to highlight
the consequences the type of council decisions we're talking about may have.

> Donnie gave a good talk to this effect:
> http://www.mefeedia.com/watch/21519531

I know his talk and some older talks about the same issue. The type of
behaviour at stake is something that in the short term falls under
either Developer Relations or User Relations. A discussion about what to
do in the long term was started by previous Councils, but a conclusion
wasn't reached.

>> To be clear, I do want the Council to have influence over Gentoo, but I
>> don't like the idea of "carte blanche" and therefore am concerned about
>> the degree and method by which the council should "leverage" its
>> influence.
> 
> Well, are there any alternatives short of the Council being able to do
> nothing but ask people nicely to not destroy the distro?  I'm fine with
> checks and balances, but in the end somebody needs to have the final
> say, and I'd rather see that be a body elected by all - either the
> trustees or the council.

I don't have any alternatives yet, but that's what I'd like to find.

> Maybe there are some ways to address the concern of a runaway council.

Yes, that may be part of the solution.

> Rich
> 

- -- 
Regards,

Jorge Vicetto (jmbsvicetto) - jmbsvicetto at gentoo dot org
Gentoo- forums / Userrel / Devrel / KDE / Elections
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Replies:
Re: [GLEP 39 overhaul] Do we want to make changes to the role of the council?
-- Richard Freeman
References:
[GLEP 39 overhaul] Do we want to make changes to the role of the council?
-- Denis Dupeyron
Re: [GLEP 39 overhaul] Do we want to make changes to the role of the council?
-- Richard Freeman
Re: [GLEP 39 overhaul] Do we want to make changes to the role of the council?
-- Jorge Manuel B. S. Vicetto
Re: [GLEP 39 overhaul] Do we want to make changes to the role of the council?
-- Richard Freeman
Re: [GLEP 39 overhaul] Do we want to make changes to the role of the council?
-- Jorge Manuel B. S. Vicetto
Re: [GLEP 39 overhaul] Do we want to make changes to the role of the council?
-- Richard Freeman
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