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1 g2boojum 1.1 GLEP: 39
2     Title: An "old-school" metastructure proposal with "boot for being a slacker"
3 antarus 1.4 Version: $Revision: 1.3 $
4     Last-Modified: $Date: 2007/10/12 02:08:27 $
5 g2boojum 1.1 Author: Grant Goodyear <g2boojum@gentoo.org>,
6     Ciaran McCreesh <ciaranm@gentoo.org>,
7     Status: Accepted
8     Type: Informational
9     Content-Type: text/x-rst
10     Created: 01-Sep-2005
11 antarus 1.4 Post-History: 01-Sep-2005, 09-Feb-2006, 12-Oct-2007
12 g2boojum 1.1
13 ciaranm 1.2 Status
14     ======
15    
16     Implemented. GLEP amended on 09 Feb 2006 to add the final bullet point to
17     list B in `Specification`_.
18    
19 g2boojum 1.1 Abstract
20     ========
21    
22     GLEP 4 is replaced with a new "metastructure" that retains established
23     projects (and makes new projects easier to create), but adds a new "Gentoo
24     Council" to handle global (cross-project) issues.
25    
26     Motivation
27     ==========
28    
29     The Fosdem and subsequent reform proposals shepherded by Koon are thorough,
30     extremely detailed, and somewhat complicated. They have a lot of good ideas.
31     For many who have been with Gentoo a long time, though, there's just something
32     about them that they don't really like. More than a few Gentoo devs are
33     almost entirely uninterested in metastructure as long as it doesn't get in
34     their way, and because the current proposals impose at least some order on our
35     unruly devs these proposals are guaranteed to "get in the way" to some degree.
36     For example, a frequent comment that has been heard is that many Gentoo devs
37     don't know who his/her manager (or project lead) is, which is a clear
38     indication that our current system is broken. The existing proposals solve
39     the problem by requiring that each dev belong to a project. Perhaps the part
40     that is broken, though, is the belief that every dev should have a manager.
41     The history of Gentoo is such that traditionally big advances have often been
42     implemented by a single or a small number of dedicated devs (thus our
43     long-standing tradition that devs have access to the entire tree), and surely
44     we do not want to make things harder (or less fun) for such people. So here's
45     a minimal proposal for those who remembers the "good ol' days" and thinks
46     things aren't really so different now.
47    
48     Synopsis of the current system:
49    
50     * There are 13-15 top-level projects (TLPs). Top-level projects are
51     comprised of sub-projects, and the goal was that every Gentoo
52     project would be a sub-project of one of the TLPs. Supposedly each
53     dev therefore belongs to one or more TLPs.
54     * Each TLP has at least a "strategic" manager, and potentially also an
55     "operational" manager. Only the strategic managers vote on global
56     Gentoo issues.
57     * The managers of each TLP were appointed by drobbins, the other
58     TLP managers, or elected by their project members. These managers
59     have no set term.
60     * Within each TLP the managers are responsible for making decisions
61     about the project, defining clear goals, roadmaps, and timelines
62     for the project, and solving problems that arise within the TLP
63     (see GLEP 4 for the specific list).
64     * The strategic TLP managers are also responsible for deciding issues that
65     affect Gentoo across project lines. The primary mechanism for
66     handling global-scope issues is the managers' meetings.
67     * Disciplinary action taken against erring devs is handled by the
68     "devrel" TLP, unless the dev is a strategic TLP manager. In that
69     case disciplinary action must be enacted by the other strategic TLP
70     managers.
71    
72     Problems with the existing system:
73    
74     1. The assumption that TLPs are complete is either incorrect (there
75     still is no "server" TLP) or just plain weird (but the lack of a
76     server TLP is technically okay because all devs who don't have an
77     obvious TLP belong to the "base" TLP by default).
78     2. There is nothing at all to ensure that project leads actually do
79     represent the devs they supposedly lead or satisfy their
80     responsibilities. Indeed, should a TLP manager go AWOL it is not at
81     all obvious how the situation should be resolved.
82     3. Nothing is being decided at global scope right now. Some TLP strategic
83     managers rarely attend the managers' meetings, and the managers as a
84     whole certainly are not providing any sort of global vision for
85     Gentoo right now.
86     4. Even if the strategic TLP managers were making global decisions for
87     Gentoo, the TLP structure is such that almost all devs fall under
88     only one or two TLPs. Thus voting on global issues is hardly
89     proportional, and thus many devs feel disenfranchised.
90     5. Regardless of whether or not it is justified, devrel is loathed by
91     many in its enforcement role.
92    
93     Here's a couple of additional problems identified by the current
94     metastructure reform proposals:
95    
96     6. The current system has no mechanism for identifying either projects
97     or devs that have gone inactive.
98     7. Bugs that cut across projects often remain unresolved.
99     8. GLEPs often linger in an undetermined state.
100    
101     Specification
102     =============
103    
104    
105     A. A project is a group of developers working towards a goal (or a set
106     of goals).
107    
108     * A project exists if it has a web page at
109     www.g.o/proj/en/whatever that is maintained. ("Maintained" means
110     that the information on the page is factually correct and not
111     out-of-date.) If the webpage isn't maintained, it is presumed dead.
112     * It may have one or many leads, and the leads are
113     selected by the members of the project. This selection must
114     occur at least once every 12 months, and may occur at any
115     time.
116     * It may have zero or more sub-projects. Sub-projects are
117     just projects that provide some additional structure, and their
118     web pages are in the project's space.
119     * Not everything (or everyone) needs a project.
120     * Projects need not be long-term.
121     * Projects may well conflict with other projects. That's okay.
122     * Any dev may create a new project just by creating a new page
123     (or, more realistically, directory and page) in
124 antarus 1.4 ``gentoo/xml/htdocs/proj/en`` and sending a Request For Comments
125     (RFC) e-mail to gentoo-dev. Note that this GLEP does not provide for
126     a way for the community at large to block a new project, even if the
127     comments are wholly negative.
128 g2boojum 1.1
129     B. Global issues will be decided by an elected Gentoo council.
130    
131     * There will be a set number of council members. (For the
132     first election that number was set to 7 by acclamation.)
133     * Council members will be chosen by a general election of all
134     devs once per year.
135     * The council must hold an open meeting at least once per month.
136     * Council decisions are by majority vote of those who show up (or
137     their proxies).
138     * If a council member (or their appointed proxy) fails to show up for
139     two consecutive meetings, they are marked as a slacker.
140     * If a council member who has been marked a slacker misses any further
141     meeting (or their appointed proxy doesn't show up), they lose their
142     position and a new election is held to replace that person. The newly
143     elected council member gets a 'reduced' term so that the yearly
144     elections still elect a full group.
145     * Council members who have previously been booted for excessive slacking
146     may stand for future elections, including the election for their
147     replacement. They should, however, justify their slackerness, and
148     should expect to have it pointed out if they don't do so themselves.
149     * The 'slacker' marker is reset when a member is elected.
150     * If any meeting has less than 50% attendance by council members, a new
151     election for *all* places must be held within a month. The 'one year'
152     is then reset from that point.
153     * Disciplinary actions may be appealed to the council.
154 ciaranm 1.2 * A proxy must not be an existing council member, and any single person
155     may not be a proxy for more than one council member at any given
156     meeting.
157 g2boojum 1.1
158     Rationale
159     =========
160    
161     So, does this proposal solve any of the previously-mentioned problems?
162    
163     1. There is no longer any requirement that the project structure be
164     complete. Some devs work on very specific parts of the tree, while
165     some work on practically everything; neither should be shoehorned into
166     an ad-hoc project structure. Moreover, it should be easy to create new
167     projects where needed (and remove them when they are not), which this
168     proposal should enable.
169    
170     2. By having the members choose their project leads periodically, the
171     project leads are necessarily at least somewhat responsible (and hopefully
172     responsive) to the project members. This proposal has removed the list of
173     responsibilities that project leads were supposed to satisfy, since hardly
174     anybody has ever looked at the original list since it was written. Instead
175     the practical responsibility of a lead is "whatever the members require", and
176     if that isn't satisfied, the members can get a new lead (if they can find
177     somebody to take the job!).
178    
179     3. If the council does a lousy job handling global issues (or has no
180     global vision), vote out the bums.
181    
182     4. Since everybody gets to vote for the council members, at least in
183     principle the council members represent all developers, not just a
184     particular subset.
185    
186     5. An appeal process should make disciplinary enforcement both less
187     capricious and more palatable.
188    
189     6. This proposal doesn't help find inactive devs or projects. It
190     really should not be that much of a problem. We already have a script for
191     identifying devs who haven't made a CVS commit within a certain period of
192     time. As for moribund projects, if the project page isn't maintained, it's
193     dead, and we should remove it. That, too, could be automated. A much bigger
194     problem is understaffed herds, but more organization is not necessarily a
195     solution.
196    
197     7. The metabug project is a great idea. Let's do that! Adding a useful
198     project shouldn't require "metastructure reform", although with the
199     current system it does. With this proposal it wouldn't.
200    
201     8. This proposal has nothing to say about GLEPs.
202    
203    
204     Copyright
205     =========
206    
207     This document has been placed in the public domain.

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