Contents of /xml/htdocs/proj/en/glep/glep-0039.txt

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1 GLEP: 39
2 Title: An "old-school" metastructure proposal with "boot for being a slacker"
3 Version: $Revision: 1.4 $
4 Last-Modified: $Date: 2007/10/12 13:01:36 $
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, 19-Jan-2008
12 Replaces: 1
14 Status
15 ======
17 Implemented. GLEP amended on 09 Feb 2006 to add the final bullet point to
18 list B in `Specification`_.
20 Abstract
21 ========
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.
27 Motivation
28 ==========
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.
49 Synopsis of the current system:
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.
73 Problems with the existing system:
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.
94 Here's a couple of additional problems identified by the current
95 metastructure reform proposals:
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.
102 Specification
103 =============
106 A. A project is a group of developers working towards a goal (or a set
107 of goals).
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 ``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.
130 B. Global issues will be decided by an elected Gentoo council.
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 * 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.
159 Rationale
160 =========
162 So, does this proposal solve any of the previously-mentioned problems?
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.
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!).
180 3. If the council does a lousy job handling global issues (or has no
181 global vision), vote out the bums.
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.
187 5. An appeal process should make disciplinary enforcement both less
188 capricious and more palatable.
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.
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.
202 8. This proposal has nothing to say about GLEPs.
205 Copyright
206 =========
208 This document has been placed in the public domain.

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