My DPL Vote

Written on 29 March 2007, 5 min read.
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[ 6 ] Choice 1: Wouter Verhelst
[ 6 ] Choice 2: Aigars Mahinovs
[ 3 ] Choice 3: Gustavo Franco
[ 3 ] Choice 4: Sam Hocevar
[ 2 ] Choice 5: Steve McIntyre
[ 4 ] Choice 6: Raphaël Hertzog
[ 1 ] Choice 7: Anthony Towns
[ 6 ] Choice 8: Simon Richter
[ 5 ] Choice 9: None Of The Above
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My rationale follows, if you care…

I’ve been pondering how to vote for well over a week, and I’m still not entirely happy that the ballot I’ve chosen accurately expresses my wishes, but it’s the best approximation of them that I can come up with at this time.

My dilemma has two parts

  1. I don’t think the current office of the DPL is effective, due to how it is viewed by a significant proportion of the project (if not an outright majority), so regardless of how much I might like the goals and ideas proposed by an individual candidate I’m very pessimistic that being electing as DPL will actually bring those things to pass.
  2. Much of what will make a good DPL is about how a specific set of ideas and goals will be put into action, and how interpersonal relationships between the DPL and various parties will be managed. This comes down to the personal character, experience and leadership skills of the candidate While I can form some level of an opinion about each of these aspects from mailing list archives, and IRC, etc. I don’t really feel comfortable making judgements in these areas until I’ve actually met them in real life. Too many people come across badly in the (severely limited) online communication methods we use, and are actually very decent reasonable people in real life. Out of the candidates, AJ is the only one that I’ve ever actually met and talked to.

Given these problems, my first step in choosing how to vote was to eliminate those candidates who I will rank below NOTA based on their published platforms. I have nothing personal against any of these three people, but given the other possible candidates I think that we’d be better off having another election than just electing one of these three for the sake of it.

  • Wouter Verhelst - Wouter’s platform lacks any detail that tells me what he stands for or where he wants to see Debian go. Wouter’s platform also seems very conflict averse, it favours discussion and agreement over making hard decisions. I think Debian needs to make some hard decisions and the project leader needs to be someone who is able to willing handle (civilised) conflict.
  • Aigars Mahinovs - Most of the topics that Aigars proposes to work on do not make my list of the most important issues for Debian to solve, and as others have pointed out, are possible better dealt with by other organisations.
  • Simon Richter - Simon doesn’t actually state what he wants to achieve as DPL or where he sees Debian’s future direction as being, other than some vague hints that he is against projects that are similar to ‘dunc-tank’ and that we need a common goal. Stating what that common goal should be, would have lifted this above NOTA.

That leaves five remaining candidates:

  • Anthony Towns - AJ gets my top ranking because I think that having some consistency in the DPL is a worthwhile goal. While I think that the whole Dunc-tank fiasco could have been managed much, much better, there were obviously hostile factions that would have made anything AJ did look bad. AJ’s platform seems to mostly involve him leading infrastructural improvements (good) and encouraging others to work on things that they want to see changed (also good). The one area where I possibly disagree with Anthony is around what the DPL role should look like. Anthony appears happy with the current state of the DPL office, I think that some significant changes are needed. However that’s going to require constitutional changes, so I’m not going to rank Anthony down on that basis alone.
  • Steve McIntyre - Steve comes second primarily because he’s implicitly endorsed by AJ and everything that I’ve seen online related to Steve suggests that he is a level-headed, decent individual with good leadership skills. If I can’t have consistency in the DPL office via AJ, then Steve would definitely be the next choice. Steve’s platform also doesn’t contain anything that I disagree with.
  • Sam Hocevar and Gustavo Franco - Sam and Gustavo are ranked equally based purely on the basis of their (relatively similar) platforms containing lots of great ideas and vision for Debian that I agree with. I don’t for a minute think that they will be able to achieve all of it, but at least by providing clear goals and a mandate for implementing them we might be able to start down the track of regaining some common purpose as a project. I have some reservations about Sam’s style based on what I’ve read in archive, but seeing as I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to people I haven’t personally met, I’m going to assume, that if elected Sam will be a great DPL.
  • Raphaël Hertzog - Raphaël gets my final vote above NOTA to indicate that I support the idea of a board governing Debian, but that I don’t think his particular proposal is the correct way for the board to run. If Raphaël were to win, I wouldn’t object to him placing his suggested board in ‘office’ for the upcoming year, but I hope that a major piece of their workload would be to lead the discussion, drafting and passing of a constitutional change to replace the DPL with an elected board with rotating terms of reasonable length (2-3) years.

yawn It’s made me tired writing all of that out. Maybe sometime soon I should explain in more detail exactly what parts of Debian’s governance model I think need changing or maybe I need to wait until I’ve achieved a few more technical things and gained enough respect before anyone will listen to my opinions…