Resolving conflict in technical debates in an ideal world

Stefan Lesicnik stefan at
Wed Sep 3 14:00:35 BST 2008

On Wed, Sep 3, 2008 at 2:37 PM, Daniel Holbach
<daniel.holbach at> wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Hello everybody,
> I'm somewhat side-stepping the other discussions that are happening at
> the moment and instead of apportioning blame I'd like to try to find
> out: what can we do in an ideal world to avoid serious disagreement on
> technical matters.
> Ultimately we all know, there's the Technical Board that can make final
> decisions if required. Naturally we'd like to avoid having the TB to
> find consensus if we can't, so what can we do?
> After thinking about it for a bit, I realised that we'd need more
> "high-bandwidth communication" between the stakeholders who are involved
> in the discussion in those cases.
> That includes:
>  * experienced users facing the problems
>  * the developers who are interested in fixing the problem
>  * Upstream and Debian developers
>  * members of the TB or the release team (if the releasability should be
> endangered)
> I feel it's important to have people in the discussion who are
> attempting to improve the experience for our users. That's why I list
> experienced users (e.g. sysadmins that have to deal with the issue) are
> very good to have in the debate.
> It is my personal experience that has showed me that phone or VOIP calls
> (even better: face-to-face meetings) are a very good thing to discuss
> issues where arguments were heated before and the discussions were stuck.
> Questions like these might help moving things forward:
>  - How would it work in an ideal world?
>  - What's the least intrusive change that still improves the situation?
>  - What would we like to see change here, there or upstream in the long run?
>  - Which additional concerns are there?
>  - Are there examples in other areas where something like this has been
> done?
> The good thing about this proposal is: at whatever stage of the conflict
> you are, you can always step in and say: "would you mind if we invited a
> few others and had a call about this?"
> The subject of this mail contains "in an ideal world" because I don't
> know of a great VOIP service we could easily use right now.
> I'd like to hear your opinions about this.
> Have a nice day,
>  Daniel

Hi Guys,

I've been following the discussions with interest and perhaps not full
understanding as I am new and don't yet understand the personalities
and politics involved.

I agree that some form of a conference call between those involved is
a great way to address issues, but also poses some difficulties.
Getting all interested parties to attend at a certain time for
instance.  Email is also a good way to think about things before you
say them, potentially avoiding things said in the heat of the moment,
which could cause more issues (although i guess are sometimes better
said than unsaid and thought).

I don't know about gems - but I think we definitely need to keep sight
of the common goal - to work and make the distro we love better
(somewhere along the line when we cant agree, some kind of a fork
happens). I don't think any commit is malicious. I think that its
always done in a good spirit. Sometimes it may not be 100% technically
correct (i know i've commited something that introduced a bug, but was
able to commit over it and fix it).  If its not that easy, I dont
think there is anything wrong with reverting and discussing it some
more so a solution that meets the core teams (motu council or whoever)

I've used skype conference call stuff (yes, i know skype is an evil
propriety protocol). Maybe empathy / ekiga will offer us something?


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