Discussion:
Question: What would you like to see {more,less} of?
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Chris Lamb
2018-03-30 15:04:22 UTC
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Dear -vote,

Due to the absense of the usual tête-à-tête on -vote this year,
to stimulate the conversation further I thought I might pose a
question to the electorate myself.

Therefore, what would you like to see *more* of from a Project
Leader? What would would you like to see less of?


Best wishes,
--
,''`.
: :' : Chris Lamb
`. `'` ***@debian.org / chris-lamb.co.uk
`-
Lars Wirzenius
2018-03-31 13:12:48 UTC
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Post by Chris Lamb
Dear -vote,
Due to the absense of the usual tête-à-tête on -vote this year,
to stimulate the conversation further I thought I might pose a
question to the electorate myself.
Therefore, what would you like to see *more* of from a Project
Leader? What would would you like to see less of?
I'd like to see more overt, public intervention when conflicts, "flame
wars", happen, and even before things flare up.
Bdale Garbee
2018-04-01 18:23:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lars Wirzenius
I'd like to see more overt, public intervention when conflicts, "flame
wars", happen, and even before things flare up.
This has been a persistent meme for a long time (I'm pretty sure it's
one of the big reasons I failed to be re-elected DPL 15 or so years
ago), and for some classes of conflict where a bit of "public shaming"
might help shift the project's overall mood or behavioral patterns in a
positive direction it might be a good idea... but be careful what you
wish for!

In my personal experience, most conflicts are best resolved through
quiet interactions, out of public view. If they can be resolved that
way and one or more of the key "antagonists" are allowed to make the
public pronouncement about the resolution, that seems to lead to a more
congenial atmosphere in the project generally, which I think is
desirable.

The hard decision, often, is how and when to decide that approach isn't
working and a more overt, public approach is required. This matters a
lot because letting conflicts fester is so detrimental to all involved.

So, Chris, given Lars' assertion and my kind-of-a-rebuttal, I suspect
we'd both (all?) be interested in hearing you say more about how you
think about conflict resolutions generally and what if anything you
think you might do differently in your second term?

Regards,

Bdale
Chris Lamb
2018-04-01 19:59:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bdale Garbee
So, Chris, given Lars' assertion and my kind-of-a-rebuttal, I suspect
we'd both (all?) be interested in hearing you say more about how you
think about conflict resolution
I don't have many thoughts from "first principles" on conflict
resolution (and am in no way claming to be an expert on it) but I
have found that most of the successful resolutions I have been a
part of as the DPL have involved some element of private discussion.

I suspect that this is due to some combination of not requiring a
public loss of face, not needing to "perform" or play a role to an
audience, and the very context of a private chat implicitly frames
the situation as something a little more important than normal. I
would therefore be unlikely to ask the dramatis personae to make
public announcements or apologies as you suggest and would probably
not even dream of asking in the vast majority of cases…

However, whilst I accept the point that public intervention can steer
a conversation away from flaring up, I would go further in that this
can not only help that specific instance, over time it can shape the
attitudes of a community and make it more far enjoyable and rewarding
to be a part of.

Some nuance and judgement must obviously be applied — not only do I
have a strong dislike of "social engineering" when applied to myself
there are many concrete examples I can think of where it would be
completely retrograde or inappropriate to do attempt a resolution in
public (but surely nobody was really suggesting this anyway).

In terms of what I might do differently in a second term: I would
continue my slowly-growing trend over my first term of being more
confident to make congenial public checks on sub-optimal behaviour
that I see around the project which I might previously have done
privately or even considered below some "badness" threshold.

Whilst not all of them have been successful (and some have backfired
badly), I believe the net result when I have got involved has been
positive, often confirmed by bystanders or even (ironically enough,
by private mail) by the people directly involved.


Best wishes,
--
,''`.
: :' : Chris Lamb
`. `'` ***@debian.org / chris-lamb.co.uk
`-
Enrico Zini
2018-04-01 23:14:28 UTC
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Post by Chris Lamb
Therefore, what would you like to see *more* of from a Project
Leader? What would would you like to see less of?
Hello Chris, thanks for asking.

I'd like the DPL to provide more vision for the project, by occasionally
publicly expressing an opinion on the current state of Debian and where
you'd like it to go.

I wouldn't want the DPL to express their opinion with the expectation
that everyone should agree or follow their lead, but more with the idea
of giving a sense of direction, to unlock situations that are stalled
because there isn't one clear way forward.

Sometimes there is a growing itch that might be scratched in several
ways, but it's unclear which of those ways is The Debian Way. If I were
in the position of doing something about scratching such an itch, I'd
probably not do anything because, I don't know, maybe what I'm thinking
about is the way forward, maybe nobody cares.

With a DPL opinion/vision/hope expressed somewhere, one could say
"<that>'s what the DPL said, and it sounds sensible to me, I'll do
that", and it might help congealing a sense of direction and purpose.

In general, I think that having a prior DPL opinion on a topic helps
preventing an issue to escalate to a flamewar if/when it finally becomes
urgently relevant. When the energy builds up and there is no clear way
forward, I think the energy gets focused on arguing about the way
forward[1]. When instead there is a general idea of a way forward, I
think it's more likely that the energy gets focused on making it happen.


Enrico

[1] when in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout
--
GPG key: 4096R/634F4BD1E7AD5568 2009-05-08 Enrico Zini <***@enricozini.org>
Chris Lamb
2018-04-02 09:41:11 UTC
Permalink
Dear Enrico,
Post by Enrico Zini
I wouldn't want the DPL to express their opinion with the expectation
that everyone should agree or follow their lead, but more with the idea
of giving a sense of direction
Nod. There are a few situations where I would like to have liked to
done this during my first term.

However, would you have any concrete suggestions for phrasing or ideas
for framing this that could not be interpreted as a top-down directive,
yet not being "just another" voice in the mix?

Every time I tried drafting such "loaded" opinions in the past I could
already hear the (perhaps justified…) pushback and thus decided not to
get closer involved.


Best wishes,
--
,''`.
: :' : Chris Lamb
`. `'` ***@debian.org / chris-lamb.co.uk
`-
martin f krafft
2018-04-02 09:58:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lamb
Every time I tried drafting such "loaded" opinions in the past
I could already hear the (perhaps justified
) pushback and thus
decided not to get closer involved.
Don't you think being a leader sometimes requires to withstand some
pushback, or if justified, then this pushback ought to be included
in the vision they share?
--
.''`. martin f. krafft <***@d.o> @martinkrafft
: :' : proud Debian developer
`. `'` http://people.debian.org/~madduck
`- Debian - when you have better things to do than fixing systems

"i am not in favour of long engagements. they give people the
opportunity of finding out each other's character before marriage,
which i think is never advisable."
-- oscar wilde
Chris Lamb
2018-04-02 10:39:14 UTC
Permalink
Hi Martin,
Post by martin f krafft
Post by Chris Lamb
Every time I tried drafting such "loaded" opinions in the past
I could already hear the (perhaps justified…) pushback and thus
decided not to get closer involved.
Don't you think being a leader sometimes requires to withstand some
pushback
Of course, but not if one would agree with that pushback. :)


Regards,
--
,''`.
: :' : Chris Lamb
`. `'` ***@debian.org / chris-lamb.co.uk
`-
Bdale Garbee
2018-04-02 16:02:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lamb
Every time I tried drafting such "loaded" opinions in the past I could
already hear the (perhaps justified
) pushback and thus decided not to
get closer involved.
I think it depends a lot on how local vs general the topic is.

For example, in my second (successful) run at DPL when I started pushing
the "universal operating system" meme in my platform, one of the recent
experiences I'd had at a conference in Mexico made it utterly clear to
me that we absolutely needed to put more attention on translation of
the installer... so I was eager to shine a spotlight on that in my
platform and keep talking about it during my term.

But I, too, struggled with the idea of how "involved" to become in
smaller decisions, most of which clearly belonged in the hands of the
most actively involved developers.

A good step to take, which I've made heavy use of over the years, is to
find a few trusted friends you can pass draft texts by for feedback.
I've been startled sometimes at how other read what I wrote instead of
what I meant, and how often a very small tweak in wording was all it
took to clear up the distinction...

Bdale
Chris Lamb
2018-04-02 18:45:54 UTC
Permalink
Dear Bdale,
Post by Bdale Garbee
I've been startled sometimes at how other read what I wrote instead of
what I meant, and how often a very small tweak in wording was all it
took to clear up the distinction...
Thank you for sharing your wisdom :)


Regards,
--
,''`.
: :' : Chris Lamb
`. `'` ***@debian.org / chris-lamb.co.uk
`-
Ian Jackson
2018-04-03 14:26:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lamb
Dear Enrico,
Post by Enrico Zini
I wouldn't want the DPL to express their opinion with the expectation
that everyone should agree or follow their lead, but more with the idea
of giving a sense of direction
I agree very much with Enrico.
Post by Chris Lamb
However, would you have any concrete suggestions for phrasing or ideas
for framing this that could not be interpreted as a top-down directive,
yet not being "just another" voice in the mix?
IMO the DPL is never "just another voice". But if you want to give a
message some additional weight, a good approach might be to take an
existing thread and

* summarise the arguments in as neutral a way as possible
* write a personal statement of your own preferences
* identify whose responsibility it is to take the ultimate decision
* and/or explicitly ask for volunteers to step forward for tasks
which in your view need doing, but which are lacking effort.

perhaps as a message with a new subject line. This is something that
anyone could do but your status as DPL would give such a message a lot
of weight.

I appreciate that this is a lot of work.
Post by Chris Lamb
Every time I tried drafting such "loaded" opinions in the past I could
already hear the (perhaps justified…) pushback and thus decided not to
get closer involved.
If you think the above is too lightweight, another approach would be

* plan to post a position statement to d-d-a

* post a draft of that position statement to -devel CCing
appropriate stakeholders, thus engaging in a (probably public)
consultation

I would much rather hear things from the DPL I disagree with, than see
silence. People who disagree with you, particularly key
decisionmakers and stakeholders, can still say so, and don't have to
do as you say. I think if you make that clear you should avoid
getting flames, as opposed to reasoned criticism.

Ian.
--
Ian Jackson <***@chiark.greenend.org.uk> These opinions are my own.

If I emailed you from an address @fyvzl.net or @evade.org.uk, that is
a private address which bypasses my fierce spamfilter.
Chris Lamb
2018-04-05 21:52:42 UTC
Permalink
Dear Ian,
Post by Ian Jackson
IMO the DPL is never "just another voice". But if you want to give a
message some additional weight
Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. Just to clarify, I
wouldn't want to add too much weight on technical topics in the sense
of offering lamby-as-DPL's opinion versus lamby-as-lamby's own ideas.
Post by Ian Jackson
* summarise the arguments in as neutral a way as possible
* write a personal statement of your own preferences
* identify whose responsibility it is to take the ultimate decision
* and/or explicitly ask for volunteers to step forward for tasks
which in your view need doing, but which are lacking effort.
This seems like definitely something to try — thank you for the
suggestion. I particularly like how a personal statement (assuming it
was labelled as such) should not trigger any of the aforementioned
"hat" issues.
Post by Ian Jackson
People who disagree with you, particularly key decisionmakers and
stakeholders, can still say so, and don't have to do as you say.
I agree that people can still disagree but I am just aiming for the
platonic ideal where positions are not swayed at all by the person
expressing them. Perhaps that is too idealistic.

Indeed, I can imagine them being influenced negatively just as often
as positively; nobody likes to be felt like they are being bossed
around, after all.
Post by Ian Jackson
I appreciate that this is a lot of work.
(Well, perhaps the DPL should start posting to the mailing lists
under a pseudonym…!)


Best wishes,
--
,''`.
: :' : Chris Lamb
`. `'` ***@debian.org / chris-lamb.co.uk
`-
Enrico Zini
2018-04-05 22:12:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Lamb
Indeed, I can imagine them being influenced negatively just as often
as positively; nobody likes to be felt like they are being bossed
around, after all.
I wouldn't mind being led, though, especially when the consensus on a
direction seems unclear.

I guess that's why the election is for a Debian Project Leader, and not
for a Debian Project Boss :P


Enrico
--
GPG key: 4096R/634F4BD1E7AD5568 2009-05-08 Enrico Zini <***@enricozini.org>
Ian Jackson
2018-04-05 23:23:46 UTC
Permalink
[stuff]
Thanks. As is conventional I'll reply mostly to the bit I disagree
with :-).
I agree that people can still disagree but I am just aiming for the
platonic ideal where positions are not swayed at all by the person
expressing them. Perhaps that is too idealistic.
I think it is not only too idealistic but even, perhaps, undesirable.
We (all of us) don't have the time, knowledge, and skills to make
every decision and weigh every factor ourselves. We rely on the help
of our friends and colleagues, to make better decisions, or,
sometimes, even to be able to make decisions at all. And of course
that means having an idea which of our collaborators are a better
guide on which topics.
Indeed, I can imagine them being influenced negatively just as often
as positively; nobody likes to be felt like they are being bossed
around, after all.
I certainly don't want to encourage you to start avoid bossing people
around. But I think it is possible, even for the DPL, to express an
opinion - an opinion which necessarily carries more weight - without
implying an expectation that everyone will just go along with it.

There is a big space between `this opinion carries the same weight as
that of any random poster' and `what this person says, goes'.
Post by Ian Jackson
I appreciate that this is a lot of work.
(Well, perhaps the DPL should start posting to the mailing lists
under a pseudonym…!)
Hahahah :-).

Regards,
Ian.
Chris Lamb
2018-04-06 07:56:23 UTC
Permalink
Hi Ian,
Post by Ian Jackson
that means having an idea which of our collaborators are a better
guide on which topics.
[…]
Post by Ian Jackson
I certainly don't want to encourage you to start avoid bossing people
around.
Oh, you weren't — I was really making the contrariwise point in a rather
clumsy way, referring to an additional tendency for folks to push back
on things they might otherwise have agreed upon but do not want to (or
do not want to be seen to!) be going along with a "boss", however informal
that structure is :)


Best wishes,
--
,''`.
: :' : Chris Lamb
`. `'` ***@debian.org / chris-lamb.co.uk
`-
Chris Lamb
2018-04-02 10:39:53 UTC
Permalink
Hi Martin,
Post by martin f krafft
Post by Chris Lamb
Every time I tried drafting such "loaded" opinions in the past
I could already hear the (perhaps justified…) pushback and thus
decided not to get closer involved.
Don't you think being a leader sometimes requires to withstand some
pushback
Of course, but not if one would agree with that pushback. :)


Regards,
--
,''`.
: :' : Chris Lamb
`. `'` ***@debian.org / chris-lamb.co.uk
`-
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