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To: gentoo-project@g.o
From: Richard Freeman <rich0@g.o>
Subject: Re: [GLEP 39 overhaul] Do we want to make changes to the role of the council?
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2010 21:23:33 -0400
Note - references below to specific teams like Devrel are purely for 
illustrative purposes.  I don't intend to suggest that the council 
actually needs to step in right now to fix anything in any of these teams.

On 04/21/2010 08:27 PM, Jorge Manuel B. S. Vicetto wrote:
> On 18-04-2010 11:58, Richard Freeman wrote:
>> All other positions of leadership/etc exist to facilitate day to
>> day work.  All are subordinate to one of these two bodies.  The
>> council may be voting enact or revoke policy on behalf of any
>> project/etc, and may make administrative decisions regarding
>> project leads/etc.
> I'll try to write my ideas on this subject in another reply to this
> thread, but for now I'll just say that we should try to find a
> balance between individual projects and their elected leads and the
> council. Furthermore, we have some special projects like Developer
> Relations and Infrastructure that need particular care as their
> "subordinate role" is either not so clear or not so desirable.

Here is my concern.  I didn't vote for the lead of any of Gentoo's
projects.  At best I might get a chance to vote for one or two.
However, I do vote for the council.  So, the council represents the
developers of Gentoo as a whole.  If a project team wants to do
something that the council considers detrimental to the distro as a
whole (though perhaps it is optimal from the POV of the single team),
then they should have the right to step in and make amends.

The council and trustees are the most democratic bodies in Gentoo, and
it is fitting that they ultimately wield the most power.

> To address specifically your point about conflict of interest, that
> is something that we should never waive casually.

Agreed, that is why the council shouldn't just step in and deal with an
issue unless it is a serious one.  Who gets to decide if an issue is
serious enough?  Well, that would be the council, since they're the most
trusted body in the organization.

> But we have a policy on how to deal with developers and the eagerness
> on the idea to throw it away and just let the council (the single
> body council?) do what it wants, is very disturbing to me.

Who voted to create this policy?  Who gets to change it?  If I want to 
change devrel policy, how would I do that?  Suppose 85% of the Gentoo 
devs want to change it?  Right now they'd need to somehow convince a 
majority of the members of Devrel to change the policy, or elect a lead 
that would.  If the members of devrel are mostly from the 15% who 
disagree with the change then that might not happen.  If devrel just 
boots the council on some pretense, should the council not be allowed to 
hear their own appear since it is a conflict of interest?  My point is 
basically that closed groups like devrel should always be subordinate to 
an elected body - either the trustees or the council.

If you look at any other serious organization the purpose of committees 
and bureaucracy is to serve the organization, and the organization is 
represented overall by the board of directors, who are elected by the 
members/shareholders/etc.  This system works well - ultimately the 
members have absolute authority in elections, but the directors oversee 
things from time to time, and the committees and bureaucracy deal with 
the day-to-day.

For example, the KDE team shouldn't be running every decision past the 
council.  They probably should try to communicate to the community what 
they're up to, and they're one of the teams I'd actually consider among 
the better in this regard.  If the council sees a big problem then they 
should be able to step in if necessary, but they should of course use 
discretion before doing so.

That's really all I'm saying.  The council should not wield its power 
with a heavy hand, but it should not be prevented from intervening on 
behalf of the community when necessary.  To be honest, the complaint 
around here (perhaps warranted, perhaps not) seems to be more that the 
council doesn't do enough - I'm not sure that any council in memory 
would be eager to micromanage every project team.  However, this is why 
devs should consider maturity when electing the council.

The council doesn't do what it wants - it does what the developers as a 
whole want.  By all means throw in a recall provision in the GLEP if you 
want, but if the dispute is between the council (elected by all) and 
some project lead (maybe elected by a few devs they work closely with), 
I'd say the council will have the best overall perspective.

Rich


Replies:
Re: [GLEP 39 overhaul] Do we want to make changes to the role of the council?
-- Jorge Manuel B. S. Vicetto
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
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