Steve McIntyre: The first thing I promised to do when I became DPL was to initiate a thorough review of Debian's teams. Well, no time like the present!
The first thing I promised to do when I became DPL was to initiate a
thorough review of Debian's teams. Well, no time like the present!
I want to get an accurate, honest assessment of how our central tasks
are going and how well (or not!) people are working together in our
various teams. I'm assuming nothing at this point. I am expecting that
analysing the results of this survey will point out places where we
can improve, but until I have some real data to go on I'm not going to
be pushed into making over-hasty changes.
What I want from the review
It's probably best if I lay down some ground rules here to start with.
Firstly, I'm not wanting to prompt more flame wars. But I do want to
see honest, truthful opinions from people. Therefore, the best way for
this to proceed will be for people to send individual responses
directly to me (via leader@ please). I will treat those messages as
private and confidential unless you explicitly tell me otherwise. Of
course, I *will* be making my *general* analysis public when I'm
done. If I didn't, there'd be no point in doing this review in the
first place! If you're really bothered about confidentiality, then by
all means PGP-encrypt your response to me (my key is ID 0x88c7c1f7).
Secondly, I'm human and I make mistakes. Yes, really! If I forgot to
send this to you or your team but you think I should have done, then
please don't feel offended that I missed you. Feel free to call me a
muppet, but please just reply to me anyway. The more data I get about
all our teams at this point, the better the conclusions I can draw
from that data.
Thirdly, this exercise should not take too long to work through. Yes,
I know I'm asking for documentation (shock!), but it really shouldn't
take long for anybody to give me the information I'm asking for. I
want to have the data ready for working with *reasonably* soon, so I'm
setting a deadline just under 4 weeks from now (23:59:59 UTC, Sunday
25th May). People may be on vacation or whatever so I'm going to be
reasonably generous with my time frame here. If you can't get back to
me within a month then please tell me and we'll work something
out. However, please be warned: if I hear nothing at all in that
month, then that lack of data will become a data point itself.
Finally, and most importantly, please treat this sensibly. This is not
a witch hunt and I'm not just looking for excuses to abuse or punish
people. I'm simply looking for positive ways where we can make Debian
work better. I'm not going to be playing favourites here either; I'm
including teams that include me in the review here, and I'd be very
surprised if we don't find issues in those just as much as anywhere
What comes after the review?
I'll work through the results myself and summarise them suitably for
publishing. Once I have data, I'll be wanting to talk with our teams
again about how best to make whatever improvements are indicated.
Those may include trying to recruit more people to help with a task,
giving a team more publicity or hugs (or whatever) so they feel better
loved by the rest of us, or even something as simple as buying them
beer and saying thanks for a job well done. If we need to spend some
of Debian's money to make something work better, then I'll consider
that too. At this point, (almost) anything is possible and I'm not
going to rule anything out.
The review itself
Here's the bit that really matters to me – the questions I want *you*
to answer. As I've said already, please be as truthful and honest as
you can. If you think something is completely broken, then say
so. Equally, if you don't really have a strong opinion on something
then say that too – don't just make things up for the sake of filling
in a form here!
I'm sending this to lots of team mailing lists. Clearly, there will be
some overlap where people are on multiple teams. In those cases,
please send me just one response but reply to the team questions
several times, once per team.
a. What's your name, and where are you from? How long have you been
involved in Debian?
b. What do you do outside of Debian – are you a student with lots of
free time, or are you employed full-time with a family and lots of
c. How much time *can* you comfortably spend on Debian work in a
typical week? And how much time *do* you spend on Debian work?
(Yes, I know these can be very different!)
d. What packages do you maintain? How well do you cope? Are you part
of a team for those packages, or do you work on them on your own?
How much time do you need to spend, on average? Are they in good
e. How would you rank all of your tasks in order of importance?
f. Finally, are you having fun working on Debian? Why/why not?
2. Teams you're in
(please answer this section multiple times where appropriate, once per
team, but *excluding* teams for maintenance of individual packages)
a. What teams do you work on? Are you an “official” member of those
b. How well do you think those teams are performing, in terms of
getting things done? How are daily/regular tasks dealt with? And
how about less common, one-off things?
c. How do members of your teams communicate with each other about what
they're working on? And how do they (as individuals or as a team)
communicate with people outside of the team? Do you feel they
d. Are there enough resources for your teams to do their jobs well? If
not, what's missing?
e. Anything else you'd like to mention?
3. Other teams
a. What contact, if any, do you (as an individual) have with other
teams? How well does that contact work?
b. How well do your team(s) interact with other teams?
c. If you have any issues in (a) or (b), how would you suggest to fix
d. Any other observations about the various teams in Debian?
That's the list of things I'm hoping to learn more about from this
review of teams. Of course, I'm sure there are many other things in
Debian that you'd like to ask or tell me about. By all means, talk to
me about them – I see it as part of my job to listen and do what I can
to help. But please keep those separate from this survey – it'll help
me to avoid my head exploding in all directions…
– Steve McIntyre, Debian Project Leader <email@example.com>