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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 1.5 Version: $Revision: 1.4 $
4     Last-Modified: $Date: 2007/10/12 13:01:36 $
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 1.5 Post-History: 01-Sep-2005, 09-Feb-2006, 12-Oct-2007, 19-Jan-2008
12     Replaces: 1
13 g2boojum 1.1
14 ciaranm 1.2 Status
15     ======
16    
17     Implemented. GLEP amended on 09 Feb 2006 to add the final bullet point to
18     list B in `Specification`_.
19    
20 g2boojum 1.1 Abstract
21     ========
22    
23     GLEP 4 is replaced with a new "metastructure" that retains established
24     projects (and makes new projects easier to create), but adds a new "Gentoo
25     Council" to handle global (cross-project) issues.
26    
27     Motivation
28     ==========
29    
30     The Fosdem and subsequent reform proposals shepherded by Koon are thorough,
31     extremely detailed, and somewhat complicated. They have a lot of good ideas.
32     For many who have been with Gentoo a long time, though, there's just something
33     about them that they don't really like. More than a few Gentoo devs are
34     almost entirely uninterested in metastructure as long as it doesn't get in
35     their way, and because the current proposals impose at least some order on our
36     unruly devs these proposals are guaranteed to "get in the way" to some degree.
37     For example, a frequent comment that has been heard is that many Gentoo devs
38     don't know who his/her manager (or project lead) is, which is a clear
39     indication that our current system is broken. The existing proposals solve
40     the problem by requiring that each dev belong to a project. Perhaps the part
41     that is broken, though, is the belief that every dev should have a manager.
42     The history of Gentoo is such that traditionally big advances have often been
43     implemented by a single or a small number of dedicated devs (thus our
44     long-standing tradition that devs have access to the entire tree), and surely
45     we do not want to make things harder (or less fun) for such people. So here's
46     a minimal proposal for those who remembers the "good ol' days" and thinks
47     things aren't really so different now.
48    
49     Synopsis of the current system:
50    
51     * There are 13-15 top-level projects (TLPs). Top-level projects are
52     comprised of sub-projects, and the goal was that every Gentoo
53     project would be a sub-project of one of the TLPs. Supposedly each
54     dev therefore belongs to one or more TLPs.
55     * Each TLP has at least a "strategic" manager, and potentially also an
56     "operational" manager. Only the strategic managers vote on global
57     Gentoo issues.
58     * The managers of each TLP were appointed by drobbins, the other
59     TLP managers, or elected by their project members. These managers
60     have no set term.
61     * Within each TLP the managers are responsible for making decisions
62     about the project, defining clear goals, roadmaps, and timelines
63     for the project, and solving problems that arise within the TLP
64     (see GLEP 4 for the specific list).
65     * The strategic TLP managers are also responsible for deciding issues that
66     affect Gentoo across project lines. The primary mechanism for
67     handling global-scope issues is the managers' meetings.
68     * Disciplinary action taken against erring devs is handled by the
69     "devrel" TLP, unless the dev is a strategic TLP manager. In that
70     case disciplinary action must be enacted by the other strategic TLP
71     managers.
72    
73     Problems with the existing system:
74    
75     1. The assumption that TLPs are complete is either incorrect (there
76     still is no "server" TLP) or just plain weird (but the lack of a
77     server TLP is technically okay because all devs who don't have an
78     obvious TLP belong to the "base" TLP by default).
79     2. There is nothing at all to ensure that project leads actually do
80     represent the devs they supposedly lead or satisfy their
81     responsibilities. Indeed, should a TLP manager go AWOL it is not at
82     all obvious how the situation should be resolved.
83     3. Nothing is being decided at global scope right now. Some TLP strategic
84     managers rarely attend the managers' meetings, and the managers as a
85     whole certainly are not providing any sort of global vision for
86     Gentoo right now.
87     4. Even if the strategic TLP managers were making global decisions for
88     Gentoo, the TLP structure is such that almost all devs fall under
89     only one or two TLPs. Thus voting on global issues is hardly
90     proportional, and thus many devs feel disenfranchised.
91     5. Regardless of whether or not it is justified, devrel is loathed by
92     many in its enforcement role.
93    
94     Here's a couple of additional problems identified by the current
95     metastructure reform proposals:
96    
97     6. The current system has no mechanism for identifying either projects
98     or devs that have gone inactive.
99     7. Bugs that cut across projects often remain unresolved.
100     8. GLEPs often linger in an undetermined state.
101    
102     Specification
103     =============
104    
105    
106     A. A project is a group of developers working towards a goal (or a set
107     of goals).
108    
109     * A project exists if it has a web page at
110     www.g.o/proj/en/whatever that is maintained. ("Maintained" means
111     that the information on the page is factually correct and not
112     out-of-date.) If the webpage isn't maintained, it is presumed dead.
113     * It may have one or many leads, and the leads are
114     selected by the members of the project. This selection must
115     occur at least once every 12 months, and may occur at any
116     time.
117     * It may have zero or more sub-projects. Sub-projects are
118     just projects that provide some additional structure, and their
119     web pages are in the project's space.
120     * Not everything (or everyone) needs a project.
121     * Projects need not be long-term.
122     * Projects may well conflict with other projects. That's okay.
123     * Any dev may create a new project just by creating a new page
124     (or, more realistically, directory and page) in
125 antarus 1.4 ``gentoo/xml/htdocs/proj/en`` and sending a Request For Comments
126     (RFC) e-mail to gentoo-dev. Note that this GLEP does not provide for
127     a way for the community at large to block a new project, even if the
128     comments are wholly negative.
129 g2boojum 1.1
130     B. Global issues will be decided by an elected Gentoo council.
131    
132     * There will be a set number of council members. (For the
133     first election that number was set to 7 by acclamation.)
134     * Council members will be chosen by a general election of all
135     devs once per year.
136     * The council must hold an open meeting at least once per month.
137     * Council decisions are by majority vote of those who show up (or
138     their proxies).
139     * If a council member (or their appointed proxy) fails to show up for
140     two consecutive meetings, they are marked as a slacker.
141     * If a council member who has been marked a slacker misses any further
142     meeting (or their appointed proxy doesn't show up), they lose their
143     position and a new election is held to replace that person. The newly
144     elected council member gets a 'reduced' term so that the yearly
145     elections still elect a full group.
146     * Council members who have previously been booted for excessive slacking
147     may stand for future elections, including the election for their
148     replacement. They should, however, justify their slackerness, and
149     should expect to have it pointed out if they don't do so themselves.
150     * The 'slacker' marker is reset when a member is elected.
151     * If any meeting has less than 50% attendance by council members, a new
152     election for *all* places must be held within a month. The 'one year'
153     is then reset from that point.
154     * Disciplinary actions may be appealed to the council.
155 ciaranm 1.2 * A proxy must not be an existing council member, and any single person
156     may not be a proxy for more than one council member at any given
157     meeting.
158 g2boojum 1.1
159     Rationale
160     =========
161    
162     So, does this proposal solve any of the previously-mentioned problems?
163    
164     1. There is no longer any requirement that the project structure be
165     complete. Some devs work on very specific parts of the tree, while
166     some work on practically everything; neither should be shoehorned into
167     an ad-hoc project structure. Moreover, it should be easy to create new
168     projects where needed (and remove them when they are not), which this
169     proposal should enable.
170    
171     2. By having the members choose their project leads periodically, the
172     project leads are necessarily at least somewhat responsible (and hopefully
173     responsive) to the project members. This proposal has removed the list of
174     responsibilities that project leads were supposed to satisfy, since hardly
175     anybody has ever looked at the original list since it was written. Instead
176     the practical responsibility of a lead is "whatever the members require", and
177     if that isn't satisfied, the members can get a new lead (if they can find
178     somebody to take the job!).
179    
180     3. If the council does a lousy job handling global issues (or has no
181     global vision), vote out the bums.
182    
183     4. Since everybody gets to vote for the council members, at least in
184     principle the council members represent all developers, not just a
185     particular subset.
186    
187     5. An appeal process should make disciplinary enforcement both less
188     capricious and more palatable.
189    
190     6. This proposal doesn't help find inactive devs or projects. It
191     really should not be that much of a problem. We already have a script for
192     identifying devs who haven't made a CVS commit within a certain period of
193     time. As for moribund projects, if the project page isn't maintained, it's
194     dead, and we should remove it. That, too, could be automated. A much bigger
195     problem is understaffed herds, but more organization is not necessarily a
196     solution.
197    
198     7. The metabug project is a great idea. Let's do that! Adding a useful
199     project shouldn't require "metastructure reform", although with the
200     current system it does. With this proposal it wouldn't.
201    
202     8. This proposal has nothing to say about GLEPs.
203    
204    
205     Copyright
206     =========
207    
208     This document has been placed in the public domain.

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