Proactively awarding developer status?

Lukasz Zemczak lukasz.zemczak at
Mon Nov 2 08:32:46 UTC 2020

Hey Robie!

Thank you for this proposal.

On Fri, 30 Oct 2020 at 14:47, Robie Basak <robie.basak at> wrote:
> I'd like to propose/discuss adding an alternative path to getting
> developer status that doesn't involve an explicit application through
> third party nominations. I don't know if this is a good idea or not. I'd
> appreciate feedback from anyone, not just DMB members.
> Over the years I've been asked for advice by many people on whether they
> should apply, whether they're ready, whether their application page is
> sufficient, and so on. And I've also dealt with applications where the
> applicant has missed writing up what we're looking for in an application
> but when we do get the information we find that they do actually meet
> our expectations.
> Note that all of the above is "red tape". Ultimately we do need
> information to form an opinion. Traditionally that information has been
> gathered through our application process. But different people react
> differently to this red tape. Some applicants are inevitably put off by
> the process itself and do not apply when we would like them to, even
> when we would consider them to be good candidates.
> My proposal is this. Start by accepting *third party applications* for
> contributing developer status. We'd expect the same information as in a
> regular contribution developer application, but from a third party and
> privately[1]. We'd consider the application privately, and if we accept
> it, then we'd reach out to the second party and offer contributing
> developer status with it already having been approved. If the second
> party wants it, then it'll be done.

Just my personal 5 cents here. I generally consider this a good idea
with us handling third party applications, but what I *personally*
think is not ideal is the proposal to do all this privately. I can
understand your concerns regarding unwanted attention, but I think in
Ubuntu we should be as transparent to the community as possible. Some
applications are successful, some not, and it's not really a reason to
feel let down, especially in the case where someone else nominated.
There has been a lot of talk about us doing less and less behind
closed doors, and I feel something like this might give off the wrong
vibe to the community.

For contributing developer status I think this could be fine, as there
are no uploading privileges involved, but for other memberships I
value a lot asking questions to the applicant during the review
process. We don't know everyone in the community, so it's good to have
some means to get a better feel of the person, to form our own
personal opinion. Here this would have to happen privately as well,
which has the downside of the community not having full understanding
'what is required to have a successful application?'. This would of
course be mitigated by us better documenting requirements for each
role, which is an ongoing action item we have had for a long time.

> Possible downsides:
> 1) It moves the consideration of applications out of public view. This
> might foster bias, or the appearance of bias, especially from the
> perspective of applicants finding themselves refused. In mitigation,
> applicants will always have the choice of a regular public application.
> One risk is that most awards become private; we could mitigate that by
> actively resisting any such tendancy, for example by limiting third
> party awards by number or ratio[2]. Another mitigation might be to
> publish third party applications if they are approved and accepted.

This downside is my biggest concern. Even though I do understand the
reasoning, doing more behind closed doors and without public awareness
feels *wrong*.

> 2) Some potential applicants might sit around disappointed forever
> waiting to be nominated by someone else instead of applying themselves,
> in the knowledge that a third party nomination route exists. Apart from
> general encouragement I'm not sure anything could be done about this;
> it's a case of the trade-off between this and losing applicants because
> they delay applying already.
> 3) Accidental publication of a private third party application.
> I would also specifically encourage DMB members to make nominations.
> To limit concerns I suggest doing this initially only for contributing
> developer applications. These are much easier to consider without a wide
> range of endorsements; contributions are generally publicly visible for
> anyone to point out, and possible concerns such as "does this person
> work well with others?" are generally much less important. If successful
> we could consider expanding it to applications to grant upload access,
> but that would be a future discussion and doesn't need to be considered
> now.
> What do you think?

All in all: it's hard for me to state my definite opinion. I know and
understand the rationale behind this idea, and I think for others to
be able to nominate someone for privileges without their knowledge
might be useful. But I'm worried this will cause more problems than
it's actually solving. Since, let's say, I know someone that should
apply for some selected membership, but that person is reluctant to do
that themselves. Sure, the proposal here could solve it, with the DMB
handling it via the third party application process (in private). But
is it really that much harder to just reach out to that person, help
with/do the paperwork for them and convince them to apply at a given
time-slot? We already have means to granting different rights to
someone during the application process if the applicant feels a better
fit for a different role instead. If there are any parts of our
process that feel disencouraging, I think we should do our best so
that they're not. Things aren't easy, sometimes things just don't work
out, but it's fine - that's how life is. And we should make sure that
failed applicants know exactly what they need to do to be successful
next time, with a strong feeling of how close they are to it.

I really don't know.

> Robie
> [1] Privately because it wouldn't necessarily be done with the knowledge
> of the second party, and we wouldn't want to draw attention to people if
> it turns out they are unsuccessful.
> [2] This would be "a good problem to have". If it did happen, we could
> for example limit the rate that third party awards are made by ranking
> them and choosing only the top ones. The regular application process
> would be unaffected.
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Ɓukasz 'sil2100' Zemczak
 Foundations Team
 lukasz.zemczak at

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