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1 GLEP: 39
2 Title: An "old-school" metastructure proposal with "boot for being a slacker"
3 Version: $Revision: 1.3 $
4 Last-Modified: $Date: 2007/10/12 02:08:27 $
5 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 Post-History: 01-Sep-2005, 09-Feb-2006, 12-Oct-2007
12
13 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 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 ``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
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 * 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
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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