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Bits from the MIA team

Hello everyone, this is some news from the MIA team which has been quite silent lately as I find. For those who don’t know it, MIA means “Missing In Action”, i.e. the effort is to track maintainers who seem to be neglecting their duties.

Within the first months of this year, hundreds of mails have been sent
out, quite a few bugs were filed, and many people have been contacted
via IRC. It’s possible, you’re one of them. Check you mailbox! ;) After
that, it all slowed down a bit again. One reason is the lack of man
power. If you want to help out, please contact us! This work has many
interesting social aspects and plays a big role in Debian’s quality by
empowering active developers to maintain packages from maintainers who
have unfortunately become inactive.

Now, there are two main reasons why we would be in contact:

You know someone who seems MIA
==============================

Sometimes there are people you have been working with years ago and they
are not active anymore but still listed as maintainer/uploader for
several packages which now seem neglected. Or you’re working on RC bugs
or whatever package you like since noone did before. This is when you
notice that something’s off.

What can you do? Well, obviously, talk to people! Mail them, see if you
can meet them on IRC, be creative. Simply ask them if they’re still
active. And if you don’t want to do that or you’re out of ideas or just
too shy, leave it to us by mailing to mia@qa.debian.org which is our
contact address. (You can even CC us from the beginning if you fear your
contact will remain unanswered anyways.) Mailing public mailing lists is
also possible but not always as effective as one might think. And
please, pretty please, don’t just start orphaning packages. Give us and
the maintainer in question some time to figure things out.

You are MIA
===========

If you really are MIA and still reading this text, think about it. :)

Well, measuring the level of activity in a project like Debian is quite
difficult. There is of course the last upload, then the number of RC
bugs a maintainer never responded to. But there are also many subversion
and git repositories that one could check for commits… You get the
point. If you ever get mailed by us even though you’re active, please
don’t get angry. We make mistakes sometimes and it’s not always clear if
someone’s MIA. Even nasty spam filters made contacts impossible in the
past and led to unpleasent confusions.

When we think (for whatever reason) that you seem inactive, we try to
contact you. And then we try again. And again. One day, after warning
you about this, we will orphan your packages and request other
maintainers to remove you from uploaders lists. How can you avoid this?
Oh, that’s simple: answer our mails.

We are — despite what people think — not hunting the bad guys, we
don’t have a black or red list of people that we would like to get rid
of. We are a bunch of Debian Developers mainly who think that neglected
packages aren’t exactly good. So this is basically a QA effort. It is
true that we, as a last step, inform the Debian Account Managers about
DDs that seem to be completely MIA (usually after orphaning all their
packages) and they will proceed with account removals as they see fit.
But that’s the very last step. So please understand, when you get mailed
by us, we will not kick you, we just want your packages to have the
attention they need. It’s that simple.

Conclusion
==========

We’re very nice to you, be nice to us as well, please. And if you think
we’re nice enough to work with, send us a mail. We can need one or two
more to work through the open cases. And in any case, work with us.
Quality is what distinguishes Debian from the rest and we all would like
to keep it that way, right?

About the team: http://wiki.debian.org/Teams/MIA
Some internals: http://wiki.debian.org/qa.debian.org/MIATeam
How to reach us: mia@qa.debian.org

Thanks for your time!
Hauke
on behalf of Debian QA/MIA

— .”`. Jan Hauke Rahm www.jhr-online.de : :’ : Debian Developer www.debian.org `. `’` Member of the Linux Foundation www.linux.com `- Fellow of the Free Software Foundation Europe www.fsfe.org

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