Developer Application Criteria - Was Re: New Application processes

Dustin Kirkland kirkland at
Thu Jan 8 18:25:30 GMT 2009

On Thu, Jan 8, 2009 at 11:11 AM, Jordan Mantha <jordan.mantha at> wrote:
> I don't think that's necessarily a logical conclusion. You're saying
> that if the +1/-1 of a MOTU Council member is based on a subjective
> decision that they can't use objective data in making that decision.

That is not at all what I'm saying.

I'm saying that if a given Council Member (or even an existing MOTU
who feels compelled to give feedback on an application) makes a
criticism of a given candidate, and that criticism is based on
measurable, quantitative, objective data, then such an objective
threshold should be established.  If it's not going to happen at on a
MOTU-wide basis, then, I'd hope the voting individual would take the
initiative to define the threshold by which *they* are assessing

Perhaps something more like:
 "I'm giving this individual a -1 because they simply have not been a
MOTU long enough to be considered for Core Dev.  I believe that such
an individual should be a MOTU for X months before applying for Core
Dev.  At that time, I will reconsider my vote."

On the other hand, a more subjective criticism would be:
 "I believe this individual lacks maturity."  or "So-and-so is
difficult to work with."

>> Criticisms of the form:
>>  * You haven't done enough merges
>>  * You haven't touched enough Universe packages
>>  * You haven't been a MOTU or Developer long enough
>>  * You haven't ...  enough ...
>> should be invalid.
> Why? There's no a priori reason to reject such reasons just because
> they are objective data. What you're really arguing against is that
> objective data is being used to make subjective decisions and I don't
> know why that would be a problem pre se.

It's a problem because different people are held to different
standards (see ScottK's poignant comments).

>> These things are actually measurable, and we could very well set the
>> value of "enough".  If we are consciously choosing *not* to set these
>> values, I think it's totally unfair to criticize someone for not
>> achieving these arbitrary, dynamic, mystery thresholds.
> I very much doubt that "enough" could be easy to set. The fact of the
> matter is that each MOTU will see that differently, and the point of
> having a MOTU Council is to take in all the data and determine if
> "enough" has been met. If it was easy to do we'd just have a secretary
> go down a checklist to make MOTUs.

I have never suggested that MOTU privileges be reduced to completing a
checklist.  That's ridiculous.

I have suggested that "a minority component" of MOTU/CoreDev
applications be based on some objective criteria.  In place of such a
process, I also believe that Bryce's suggestion of a "workbook" would
mostly serve the same purpose.

> My overall feeling with this thread is that perhaps we're attacking
> the wrong problem. People are wanting to reject the criteria and the
> subjectivity of a mostly subjective decision. I think rather the
> problem is that the MOTU team has lost its collective understanding of
> what being a MOTU is. The main argument has been "my sponsors told me
> I was ready and I got rejected". I think there are some reasons why
> this could be happening:
>  4) people seem to take the MOTU applications much more personal
> these days. "rejected" "criticized" seem to come up a lot when it's
> always been "not yet, but keep trying". This perhaps is due to losing
> some of that Ubuntu Ethos Jono has been talking about.

These application process are inherently "personal", when you're
judged by your peers on entirely arbitrary and changing criteria.

> I think perhaps effort would be better spent trying to figure out how
> to make MOTU a *real* team again rather than trying to figure out how
> to objectify an essential subjective decision. People should be
> tapping into collective knowledge and understanding rather than
> reading page after page of docs and running through checklists. We
> should be a community rather than a MOTU mill. The self-assessment
> checklist might help people figure out what we're looking for but I'm
> afraid it would quickly turn into "but I can do the checklist, you
> have to let me in".

I disagree.  Here's an analogy...

You want to attend XYZ private university.  They're a private
institution, so they can accept whoever they want.

In fact, most of the decision will be subjective.  However, before you
get to that point, you have to meet some objective goals.
 * You have to have a high school diploma.
 * You have to have some minimum SAT/ACT test score
 * You must have earned some minimum GPA.

Meeting the minimum objective criteria is clearly not enough.  That
expectation is well established by your high school guidance
counselors (ie, mentors).  But, you know what you have to do before
you even apply.

And once you've met these minimum expectations, the university's
admissions board will evaluate the application in toto, taking into
account all sorts of qualitative considerations (extracurricular
activities, sports, essays, family history with the school, community
volunteerism, leadership skills, languages spoken, etc.).

Such processes allow us to "calibrate our expectations" (to use
Bryce's term), as to whether we should apply to Harvard, our state
university, or the local community college.  Or, more optimistically,
help establish some guidelines and goals such that we can work our
butts off to achieve certain criteria and one day apply to Harvard.


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