Thursday, 22 July 2021

Re: Plan to reform the Ubuntu Backporters Team [was: Proposal: sunset the backports pockets]

On Wed, Jul 21, 2021 at 6:11 AM Robie Basak <> wrote:
> Thank you for volunteering! As we have at least one qualified person
> committed, I'd be very happy to see the backports pocket continue. As a
> concrete proposal, I suggest we do this by reforming ~ubuntu-backporters
> as follows.
> In particular I wanted to enumerate a specific transition plan and the
> reformed team's responsibities below, since my opinion on sunsetting the
> backports pocket is only moot if this actually happens.
> Feedback appreciated!
> # Team Roles
> For clarity, initially there will be two roles in the team: 1) a
> leadership role, driving re-establishment and reform; 2) people doing
> the regular day-to-day work, such as reviews.
> I think the first role could only effectively be taken by suitably
> qualified, existing and established Ubuntu developers. We'll see if
> there are any other volunteers, and if there are, see if there is
> consensus that they can also take on the role.
> The second role would be open to anyone who meets the requirements of
> the new process, which is yet to be defined.
> To get started I suggest continuing the old process, while allowing for
> the new team's leadership to drive process reform.
> # Transition Plan
> * This entire plan is predicated on there being at least one suitably
> qualified, experienced and established Ubuntu developer committed to
> taking on both roles. So far, that's Dan, but others may join him.
> * ~techboard takes ownership of ~ubuntu-backporters.
> * Existing but inactive team members are removed.
> * Those that we have agreed will take on the first role are added as
> team admins.
> * Those still active in the team and are willing to do the second role
> (if any; I think only Iain qualifies if he is willing) are added as
> regular team members.
> * A process for future management of team membership would be up to the
> team itself to establish.
> # Team responsibilities
> Here I've tried to define what we need, rather than specify how the
> backporters team will deliver it. I'd prefer to leave the team to drive
> that. For example, Gunnar asked some good questions in the thread; I've
> deliberately not answered those, leaving that for the backporters team
> to figure out later as part of the process reform.
> * Establish and manage an effective process to handle backport
> requests. Any review process must accept or reject every backport
> request on its technical merit, and be neutral to who is requesting
> it[1].
> * Maintain the backports pocket based on this process, making sure that
> all requests receive an appropriate answer in a reasonable amount of
> time.
> * Maintain quality in the backports pocket, where the definition of
> quality is driven by the team, but defined by consensus within the
> wider Ubuntu developer community.
> * Handle your own process reform and membership management, but making
> sure that any responsibility can be carried by any contributor who
> demonstrates the required capacity and competence. Specifically,
> since the DMB has never managed membership of ~ubuntu-backporters,
> there is no requirement for the DMB to be involved. Unless you want
> to delegate that, in which case that's a conversation to have with
> the DMB.
> How does this sound? Feedback appreciated.

I'm in agreement with everything.

So as far as next steps based on your proposal, it seems like:

1) Open call for initial volunteers
- I volunteer for the leadership role (at least for the initial
re-establishment), assuming there are no objections
- mapreri volunteers for day-to-day role (thanks Mattia!)
- this email thread seems like a good enough call to the community for
anyone else who wants to volunteer, either in a leadership role or
day-to-day role
2) Administrative changes to ~ubuntu-backporters
- I don't see any public documentation on an existing process for
membership changes to ~ubuntu-backporters, so I assume your proposal
along with the disussion here is enough justification to ask the TB to
make the changes, assuming there is no objection from the TB of
course, or from existing active members (Laney I assume all this
sounds ok to you?)
3) New team has initial public irc meeting (and email/chat
communication as needed) to make any process reforms (membership,
backports process, etc)
4) update public documentation
5) New team starts work on reviewing backports

does that seem correct?

> Robie
> [1] To be clear, I believe that the current process requires
> sponsorship/upload of a suitable backport, and the backporters team only
> reviews once an upload has taken place. I am not suggesting that we
> require the backporters team to do any more than that - for example
> responding to a backport request with no upload with "please find a
> sponsor[2] to upload an appropriate backported package and then we'll
> review it" would be fine. But the process must avoid the current
> situation where only privileged people can get their uploads reviewed,
> and everyone else is blocked.
> [2] Availability of sponsors is a separate issue. I'd like to address
> that too, but I don't think it's appropriate to pull that into the scope
> of backports reform.

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