Gunnar Wolf | 12 Mar 18:35 2013

[all candidates] DPL term duration

I'm writing this prompted by some of the lines written by Gergely and
Moray in the "about a DPL board" thread.

One of the difficulties I perceive we have seen over the years is the
time it takes to transfer the know-how and work rhythm from an
outgoing DPL to an incoming one. Several of our DPLs have repeated
their term. In the past, when I was a new DD, there was this strange
and sad tendency that after finishing their DPL term, DPLs tended to
leave the project (or strongly reduce their involvement) — I *think*
there is some correlation with the DPL task pickup burnout time, which
can be an important portion of the term.

We have seen some discussions in the past regarding whether the term
should be lengthened to two years, with a mid-term referendum (or
chance to politely step down) rather than full election procedure. How
would you feel about it? Would you prefer the term to be stated as a
longer "journey", or is one year the right duration? Would you be
interested in pushing for this change?

There is, of course, also the personal committment: Of course, if you
were to push for two years, and we got the change accepted... Would
you hold your bid committing two years of your life to leading the
project?
Moray Allan | 12 Mar 21:24 2013

Re: [all candidates] DPL term duration

On 2013-03-12 20:35, Gunnar Wolf wrote:
> In the past, when I was a new DD, there was this strange
> and sad tendency that after finishing their DPL term, DPLs tended to
> leave the project (or strongly reduce their involvement) — I *think*
> there is some correlation with the DPL task pickup burnout time, 
> which
> can be an important portion of the term.

While this burnout has been most visible in DPLs, we have seen the same 
pattern in other Debian roles.  I would relate this to the more general 
point I have been making, that we should aim for people to rotate into 
new roles earlier (not later, as you are suggesting here ;).  It's a 
waste if we leave people in roles until they burn out then leave the 
project, rather than guiding them earlier into new roles where we can 
transfer their experience to other areas.

In the specific case of the DPL role, I would rather that someone 
stayed around the project a long time as an occasional advisor than that 
we pushed them to take an extra year as DPL then saw them burn out and 
disappear.

> We have seen some discussions in the past regarding whether the term
> should be lengthened to two years, with a mid-term referendum (or
> chance to politely step down) rather than full election procedure. 
> How
> would you feel about it?

I can certainly see a potential benefit for the project from spending 
less time on elections (currently > 10% of each year is the election 
period).  And a two-year term would allow people to work on some of 
(Continue reading)

Russ Allbery | 12 Mar 21:31 2013
Picon

Re: [all candidates] DPL term duration

Moray Allan <moray <at> sermisy.org> writes:

> However, the DPL role for a single year is already a big commitment,
> taking a lot of energy and time (typically including a lot of the time
> that person previously spent in other areas of Debian).  Already many
> people who would perform the role well choose not to run due to the
> required commitment.

For example, I would question whether one could do the role of DPL with a
conventional full-time job in IT, at least if you want to keep any other
hobbies outside of those two jobs.  The amount of media and expected
travel to represent Debian is rather intimidating (particularly to an
introvert), as are the number of things that are relatively
time-sensitive and require a lot of effort.  (I think mediations and
helping people work together is much more difficult than technical work on
packages.)

--

-- 
Russ Allbery (rra <at> debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

Stefano Zacchiroli | 13 Mar 11:56 2013
Picon

[all candidates] DPL salary

On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 01:31:08PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> For example, I would question whether one could do the role of DPL with a
> conventional full-time job in IT, at least if you want to keep any other
> hobbies outside of those two jobs.  The amount of media and expected
> travel to represent Debian is rather intimidating (particularly to an
> introvert), as are the number of things that are relatively
> time-sensitive and require a lot of effort.

Thanks for providing the background for a question I wanted to ask!

I totally agree with you and I'm worried about that. I've been lucky in
having the flexibility needed to be DPL and I wish the same flexibility
to the next DPL. But, in terms of Debian sustainability, I'm worried
that we de facto rely on people having that kind of flexibility to be
good DPLs. I believe we are losing, via preemptive self-selection, many
good candidates (from IT or other fields) for precisely that reason.

The ground shaking question to all candidates is then: what do you think
of providing a DPL salary using Debian funds?  I know it is a touchy
topic, and I propose it on purpose :-P

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some further thoughts to foster the discussion:

- obviously, this is not something that a DPL could propose for
  him/herself, due to conflict of interest. If it has to happen, it
  should be as a project initiative, to be applied starting to the next
  term, opt-out, etc.

(Continue reading)

Russ Allbery | 13 Mar 18:03 2013
Picon

Re: [all candidates] DPL salary

Stefano Zacchiroli <zack <at> debian.org> writes:

> I totally agree with you and I'm worried about that. I've been lucky in
> having the flexibility needed to be DPL and I wish the same flexibility
> to the next DPL. But, in terms of Debian sustainability, I'm worried
> that we de facto rely on people having that kind of flexibility to be
> good DPLs. I believe we are losing, via preemptive self-selection, many
> good candidates (from IT or other fields) for precisely that reason.

> The ground shaking question to all candidates is then: what do you think
> of providing a DPL salary using Debian funds?  I know it is a touchy
> topic, and I propose it on purpose :-P

I know this question isn't particularly aimed at me, but I'll answer
anyway: I really don't think that would help most of the time.  For
example, if I were to consider running for DPL, the problem isn't as much
the income.  Rather, it's that I have a job I like, and I don't want to
leave it.  I have a hard time imagining circumstances under which I'd quit
my job to be DPL, and then be faced with having to find a new job after a
DPL term ended.

Some people may be able to take an unpaid leave of absence, in which case
being paid to be DPL might help, but now we're back to only talking about
people with unusually flexible work situations.

The major problem with volunteer roles that take more time than one can
reasonably do on the side of a full time job isn't so much the lack of
compensation as it is the lack of more hours in the day and the fact that
quitting one's job to concentrate on this sort of temporary work is rarely
a viable option for people who are holding full-time jobs.  Even if the
(Continue reading)

Stefano Zacchiroli | 14 Mar 08:50 2013
Picon

Re: [all candidates] DPL salary

On Wed, Mar 13, 2013 at 10:03:36AM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> I know this question isn't particularly aimed at me, but I'll answer
> anyway: I really don't think that would help most of the time.

I'm clearly not particularly good at posing trick question to the
candidates; aj was much better than me at that! ;-) That said, given you
already unraveled part of the arguments I was interested in seen
discussed (and still am!, especially by the candidates), let me try to
enlarge the scope.

Due to time and travel demands, there are blockers in being DPLs. Most
of them are work related. Within that category of blockers, some could
be solved by a salary but many (according to your judgement) could not.
If we agree on this, it means that we are losing many potential good DPL
candidates due to those blockers.

The broader question is than: what can we do to loose those blockers and
profit more from the abilities that we do have in our community?

Maybe the answer is "nothing"; it's just the way it is, and we should
accept a "deficit" on that front wrt other communities. But maybe there
is something else we could do... what?

Cheers.
--

-- 
Stefano Zacchiroli  . . . . . . .  zack <at> upsilon.cc . . . . o . . . o . o
Maître de conférences . . . . . http://upsilon.cc/zack . . . o . . . o o
Debian Project Leader . . . . . .  <at> zack on identi.ca . . o o o . . . o .
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »
(Continue reading)

Moray Allan | 14 Mar 09:57 2013

Re: [all candidates] DPL salary

Stefano asked:
> The ground shaking question to all candidates is then: what do you 
> think
> of providing a DPL salary using Debian funds?

Here are some comments on a few of the aspects that worry me about this 
idea.  Some could be addressed by making other changes, but some seem 
more fundamental.

Pool of candidates

I fear that this could in fact shrink, not increase, the pool of good 
candidates, by creating a new expectation that the DPL should work 
full-time on Debian.

- As Russ already noted, there are few employers where it is easy to 
take a year out.  Even where employers permit it, there will often be an 
associated step backwards in career progression.  Look at the number of 
laws written to attempt to protect women who take time out of a career 
to have children, but the apparent careeer disadvantage that still comes 
from it.

- Someone working freelance would be likely to lose most of their 
clients.

- An academic would suffer afterwards if they didn't continue to keep 
up with the latest research, and continue to help push forward 
publications or other projects that are already in progress.

- With the current one-year term, some people might have to use up a 
(Continue reading)

Enrico Zini | 14 Mar 11:10 2013

Re: [all candidates] DPL salary

On Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 08:50:33AM +0100, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:

> Due to time and travel demands, there are blockers in being DPLs. Most
> of them are work related. Within that category of blockers, some could
> be solved by a salary but many (according to your judgement) could not.
> If we agree on this, it means that we are losing many potential good DPL
> candidates due to those blockers.
> 
> The broader question is than: what can we do to loose those blockers and
> profit more from the abilities that we do have in our community?

To the problems with paying a DPL, I want to add another one: how does a
DPL know they're earning their keep? If I were elected DPL and given a
salary, I'd feel compelled to do stuff, or to care too much, even when
perhaps the best thing to do would be to do nothing and just trust
others to do their job.

We've definitely come to expect too much from a DPL, and we need to
break that up. It cannot be that we only have one person in the project
who holds the big picture, motivates everyone, monitors everything, and
does accounting.

The way out I can see is delegation. Delegation makes you more involved,
gives you responsibilities, holds you up to them. A delegated person can
be expected to have a vision of the future of their field, to know what
is going on, to ask for help when help is needed, to suggest successors
and step down if they become inactive.

A delegator's responsibility is to help maintain a high standard among
delegates, which doesn't only mean to undelegate them if they don't do a
(Continue reading)

Moray Allan | 14 Mar 13:02 2013

Leadership in Debian (was Re: [all candidates] DPL salary)

On 2013-03-14 13:10, Enrico Zini wrote:
> We've definitely come to expect too much from a DPL, and we need to
> break that up. [...]

Thanks.  Your message explains better what I've mentioned, that (even 
ignoring the associated problems) I don't see it as healthy for us to 
push for a DPL with more and more time, but rather to fix the job to be 
more possible on available time.

I don't say that because of my own situation, but because I want us to 
continue to be able to have a good set of DPL candidates to choose from. 
The more people see an expectation of a "full time" role, the fewer 
people will be willing to run -- in my view, this would be true for the 
most appropriate candidates even if we paid the DPL a salary.

I believe that Debian is at its best when it is a flat organisation 
where different groups and individual contributors work together 
directly as needed.  The DPL and others can help by following progress, 
speaking to delegates, suggesting help where it is needed, and so on.  
But in each case they should be aiming to nurture healthy teams that 
function well without intervention, not to make themselves continually 
indispensable in every area.

I think this type of leadership can be tricky for many of us, partly 
due to tendencies in wider geek culture.  When we see something 
non-ideal, we tend to be quick to think of solutions that seem better to 
us, and to want to share them, and it tends to be hard for us to leave 
things alone to be implemented once we have made some input that might 
be forgotten or misunderstood.  We tend to think in terms of the 
elegance of a correct solution, and be suspicious of lessons on social 
(Continue reading)

Gergely Nagy | 16 Mar 11:32 2013

Re: [all candidates] DPL salary

Stefano Zacchiroli <zack <at> debian.org> writes:

> Due to time and travel demands, there are blockers in being DPLs. Most
> of them are work related. Within that category of blockers, some could
> be solved by a salary but many (according to your judgement) could not.
> If we agree on this, it means that we are losing many potential good DPL
> candidates due to those blockers.
>
> The broader question is than: what can we do to loose those blockers and
> profit more from the abilities that we do have in our community?

First, we need to know those blockers. We can figure some of them out on
our own (travel time, work, etc) - but the best way would be to ask, as
I said so in my earlier reply too.

Once we have more input, we can try to find a solution. Most likely you
have way more information about the matter than I do, but right now, I
don't feel we have enough knowledge to start thinking about how to
remove the blockers.

> Maybe the answer is "nothing"; it's just the way it is, and we should
> accept a "deficit" on that front wrt other communities. But maybe there
> is something else we could do... what?

One thing that does come to mind, is that people need to realize that
the DPL is not a one man army. The DPL does not need to do everything
alone, and is not expected to do that, either. (Or if so, we're doing
something terribly wrong)

The DPL must know his or her limits, and - with the help of the project
(Continue reading)

Didier 'OdyX' Raboud | 14 Mar 12:43 2013
Picon

Re: [all candidates] DPL salary

Hi Russ,

while I do agree with the rest of your post, there's one part which I'm not 
sure to understand correctly:

Le mercredi, 13 mars 2013 18.03:36, Russ Allbery a écrit :
> For example, I live in the SF Bay Area.  Fair market compensation here for
> the sort of senior IT person that we would elect DPL is *at least*
> $100,000 US per year, and at $100,000, people would generally be taking a
> substantial pay cut because they believed in the organization.

"the sort of senior IT person that we would elect DPL" is the part that 
puzzles me: with both the extension of the DD status and the diversity 
statement, we made it clear that we welcome all sorts of contributions from 
all sorts of contributors: I, for one, would be very happy to elect a DPL who 
is not necessarily that "senior IT person". I'm not hereby saying that "senior 
IT persons" become bad DPLs or that other professions have lower "costs" than 
the above figures, just that I think it's very important to keep the 
"potential DPL"s set wide enough.

Cheers,

OdyX

Russ Allbery | 14 Mar 18:26 2013
Picon

Re: [all candidates] DPL salary

"Didier 'OdyX' Raboud" <odyx <at> debian.org> writes:
> Le mercredi, 13 mars 2013 18.03:36, Russ Allbery a écrit :

>> For example, I live in the SF Bay Area.  Fair market compensation here
>> for the sort of senior IT person that we would elect DPL is *at least*
>> $100,000 US per year, and at $100,000, people would generally be taking
>> a substantial pay cut because they believed in the organization.

> "the sort of senior IT person that we would elect DPL" is the part that
> puzzles me: with both the extension of the DD status and the diversity
> statement, we made it clear that we welcome all sorts of contributions
> from all sorts of contributors: I, for one, would be very happy to elect
> a DPL who is not necessarily that "senior IT person". I'm not hereby
> saying that "senior IT persons" become bad DPLs or that other
> professions have lower "costs" than the above figures, just that I think
> it's very important to keep the "potential DPL"s set wide enough.

Sorry, I didn't phrase that very well.

What I was trying to get at is that the DPLs we select are skilled people.
We encourage our best developers to run, and then we try to select the
best person among that mix.  The bar is rather higher than being a Debian
developer.  It's not necessarily higher along the metric of technical
ability; it could be higher along the metric of people skills, or clarity
of expression, or financial management, or organizational skills.  But
clearly we're trying to select among our stronger members, and I consider
the general competence of DDs to already be quite high.  (For example,
when deciding whether to hire someone, knowing that they're a DD would be
a substantial plus.)

(Continue reading)

Gergely Nagy | 13 Mar 19:22 2013

Re: [all candidates] DPL salary

Stefano Zacchiroli <zack <at> debian.org> writes:

> On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 01:31:08PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
>> For example, I would question whether one could do the role of DPL with a
>> conventional full-time job in IT, at least if you want to keep any other
>> hobbies outside of those two jobs.  The amount of media and expected
>> travel to represent Debian is rather intimidating (particularly to an
>> introvert), as are the number of things that are relatively
>> time-sensitive and require a lot of effort.
>
> Thanks for providing the background for a question I wanted to ask!
>
> I totally agree with you and I'm worried about that. I've been lucky in
> having the flexibility needed to be DPL and I wish the same flexibility
> to the next DPL. But, in terms of Debian sustainability, I'm worried
> that we de facto rely on people having that kind of flexibility to be
> good DPLs. I believe we are losing, via preemptive self-selection, many
> good candidates (from IT or other fields) for precisely that reason.

We're losing out on a lot of good candidates for many, many reasons, and
I do not believe that a DPL salary would help in any way, quite the
contrary! I'll explain below.

> The ground shaking question to all candidates is then: what do you think
> of providing a DPL salary using Debian funds?  I know it is a touchy
> topic, and I propose it on purpose :-P

I do not think this is a good idea, and I would strongly object to such
a proposal. While it does solve one particular problem, that of the DPL
being able to focus all his time on Debian, it also presents quite a lot
(Continue reading)

Lucas Nussbaum | 14 Mar 20:27 2013
Picon

Re: [all candidates] DPL salary

On 13/03/13 at 11:56 +0100, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 01:31:08PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> > For example, I would question whether one could do the role of DPL with a
> > conventional full-time job in IT, at least if you want to keep any other
> > hobbies outside of those two jobs.  The amount of media and expected
> > travel to represent Debian is rather intimidating (particularly to an
> > introvert), as are the number of things that are relatively
> > time-sensitive and require a lot of effort.
> 
> Thanks for providing the background for a question I wanted to ask!
> 
> I totally agree with you and I'm worried about that. I've been lucky in
> having the flexibility needed to be DPL and I wish the same flexibility
> to the next DPL. But, in terms of Debian sustainability, I'm worried
> that we de facto rely on people having that kind of flexibility to be
> good DPLs. I believe we are losing, via preemptive self-selection, many
> good candidates (from IT or other fields) for precisely that reason.
> 
> The ground shaking question to all candidates is then: what do you think
> of providing a DPL salary using Debian funds?  I know it is a touchy
> topic, and I propose it on purpose :-P

In another mail:
> The broader question is than: what can we do to loose those blockers
> and profit more from the abilities that we do have in our community?

I think that providing a salary to the DPL would be an inefficient 
solution to a real problem.  Yes, we need to make the DPL position more 
"manageable". More DDs should be able to apply.  But there are many 
problems with this proposed solution (the implication that the DPL is 
(Continue reading)

Gergely Nagy | 13 Mar 17:31 2013

Re: [all candidates] DPL term duration

Russ Allbery <rra <at> debian.org> writes:

> Moray Allan <moray <at> sermisy.org> writes:
>
>> However, the DPL role for a single year is already a big commitment,
>> taking a lot of energy and time (typically including a lot of the time
>> that person previously spent in other areas of Debian).  Already many
>> people who would perform the role well choose not to run due to the
>> required commitment.
>
> For example, I would question whether one could do the role of DPL with a
> conventional full-time job in IT, at least if you want to keep any other
> hobbies outside of those two jobs.

I'll have to disagree here, but perhaps my idea of a conventional
full-time job in IT, or hobbies is different than yours.

> The amount of media and expected travel to represent Debian is rather
> intimidating (particularly to an introvert), as are the number of
> things that are relatively time-sensitive and require a lot of effort.

Fortunately for us, quite a lot of things one does as a software
engineer can be conveniently done in a hotel room or while travelling
too (been there, done that, didn't find it a big deal).

Also, in case one's working for a free software friendly company, going
to the same conferences one would go as DPL may very well match those
he'd attend anyway.

So, yes, travel and media do take a lot of time, but I don't think they
(Continue reading)

Didier 'OdyX' Raboud | 14 Mar 13:00 2013
Picon

Re: [all candidates] DPL term duration

Hi Moray, hi all,

Le mardi, 12 mars 2013 21.24:15, Moray Allan a écrit :
> In my view, if we want to lengthen the term of office for our
> leadership roles, which could have beneficial aspects, we should do that
> as part of a wider reform that reduces the concentration of roles/power
> in a single person.

As I see it, one way to do that (which has certainly been proposed already) 
would be to have a sort-of "DPL guild"⁰. It would have these properties¹:

- "enough" members
  (start with 3 for example, but a fixed number set in the constitution)
- fixed-length terms ("18 months" for example)
- renewable terms
- overlapping terms (more by coincidence than by enforcement)
- resignation is possible per-member, at any time
  (so if one member resigns, a new one is elected ASATCP²)
- leadership/chairman role (if needed) rotated between the elected members on
  a regular basis³

What do the candidates think of such a system; would it be something you would 
push, not push, why?

Thanks in advance, cheers,

OdyX

⁰ Team / Board / Committee / Whateva, the name isn't the core of the idea.
¹ Which are quite alike those of the swiss federal government
(Continue reading)

Didier 'OdyX' Raboud | 14 Mar 17:51 2013
Picon

Re: [all candidates] DPL term duration

Le jeudi, 14 mars 2013 13.00:09, Didier 'OdyX' Raboud a écrit :
> As I see it, one way to do that (which has certainly been proposed already)
> would be to have a sort-of "DPL guild"⁰. It would have these properties¹:
> (…)

Damn, I just realised all candidates already addressed the wider "board" idea 
in the thread starting at <20130311235436.GB18066 <at> ftbfs.de> ⁰.

OdyX

⁰ http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2013/03/msg00045.html

Lucas Nussbaum | 12 Mar 22:05 2013
Picon

Re: [all candidates] DPL term duration

Hi,

On 12/03/13 at 11:35 -0600, Gunnar Wolf wrote:
> I'm writing this prompted by some of the lines written by Gergely and
> Moray in the "about a DPL board" thread.
> 
> One of the difficulties I perceive we have seen over the years is the
> time it takes to transfer the know-how and work rhythm from an
> outgoing DPL to an incoming one. Several of our DPLs have repeated
> their term. In the past, when I was a new DD, there was this strange
> and sad tendency that after finishing their DPL term, DPLs tended to
> leave the project (or strongly reduce their involvement) — I *think*
> there is some correlation with the DPL task pickup burnout time, which
> can be an important portion of the term.
> 
> We have seen some discussions in the past regarding whether the term
> should be lengthened to two years, with a mid-term referendum (or
> chance to politely step down) rather than full election procedure. How
> would you feel about it? Would you prefer the term to be stated as a
> longer "journey", or is one year the right duration? Would you be
> interested in pushing for this change?
> 
> There is, of course, also the personal committment: Of course, if you
> were to push for two years, and we got the change accepted... Would
> you hold your bid committing two years of your life to leading the
> project?

I think that one-year terms are a good compromise, and I don't think
that there's much to gain from doing two years with a referendum.

(Continue reading)

Gergely Nagy | 13 Mar 17:23 2013

Re: [all candidates] DPL term duration

Gunnar Wolf <gwolf <at> gwolf.org> writes:

> One of the difficulties I perceive we have seen over the years is the
> time it takes to transfer the know-how and work rhythm from an
> outgoing DPL to an incoming one. Several of our DPLs have repeated
> their term. In the past, when I was a new DD, there was this strange
> and sad tendency that after finishing their DPL term, DPLs tended to
> leave the project (or strongly reduce their involvement) — I *think*
> there is some correlation with the DPL task pickup burnout time, which
> can be an important portion of the term.

Indeed, but the solution to that is not increasing the term duration, as
that will not make it neither easier, nor faster to pick up after a
transition. It merely means longer commitment, which one may or may not
be ready to make.

> We have seen some discussions in the past regarding whether the term
> should be lengthened to two years, with a mid-term referendum (or
> chance to politely step down) rather than full election procedure. How
> would you feel about it?

I'm not particularly supportive of the idea, even though I fully intend
to serve multiple terms.

> Would you prefer the term to be stated as a longer "journey", or is
> one year the right duration? Would you be interested in pushing for
> this change?

I believe we need a smoother transition, but a longer term does not help
that in any way, as far as I see. Therefore, I wouldn't support such a
(Continue reading)


Gmane