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I received a surprising 13 responses to my previous post, which was certainly more than I expected and is one reason it's taken me a few days to follow up on it. (How do you pick someone from a group of 13 people based on just a paragraph or two? Clearly I'd like for someone to help all of these people get involved in Debian, but to do so solely by myself would be making a commitment that I just don't have time to come through on. So, it ends up being quite arbitrary. I pick who I think I'd most like working with and could make the most out of the opportunity, and even that is an arbitrary judgement based on very little.)

One question asked by one of the people who emailed me was, "Why did you ask for someone who isn't involved in Debian already and who doesn't necessarily have the technical skills needed?"

The answer to this question has several facets.

For one, people already involved in a free software project tend to be busy people. The workload in projects tends to be concentrated in few hands, and many of those people who are already involved in a project don't need or want any more work. So, asking for someone not already involved in Debian increases the pool of people who might respond to such a request and actually be able to follow up on it.

While this a valid reason, it still doesn't explain why I didn't just say, "it's okay if you're not already involved in Debian or don't know python" and not state a preference as to the skill level of the person who would respond to such a request.

I did, however, have a specific reason for stating my preference. I asked specifically for someone who wasn't already involved in Debian and who didn't necessarily know python or consider themselves a competent programmer because I wanted to encourage people who don't consider themselves to already know enough to be a useful comaintainer to contact me. I've picked up a lot from following Geek Feminism on what sort of language turns minority groups like women away, and I wanted to ask in such a way that it didn't turn away people who aren't good at self-promotion or who are less sure of their skills, or who don't yet have the skills, men and women alike. Even I still sometimes internally question my own competence as a programmer, and my self-confidence has increased over the past few years.

(For the curious, the responses I received were, at my guess, 85% male, 15% female. Whether that's a success or not depends on the demographics of those who read the post, but it is better than the ~98% male involvement in the FLOSS world altogether.)

And I do think it's more of a contribution to the project to help someone new get involved than to try to convince someone who's already overcome the barrier to entry to take on some more work. We'll see how it turns out in the end. I have high hopes. (No pressure, soon-to-be-selected mentee.)

Posted Sat 23 Jan 2010 10:50:20 PM UTC Tags: tags/quodlibet

Quodlibet is a GTK+ audio library manager / player. In Debian, it makes up four binary packages: quodlibet, quodlibet-ext, exfalso, and quodlibet-plugins. It's big/popular enough to get a few bugs filed against it and for people to yell when things break, but not so big as to be overwhelming.

Since the previous comaintainer has been inactive for some time, I've been thinking that it might be nice to have a comaintainer again. During my academic term at MIT or if I'm on vacation, I don't get to things as quickly as I should. The package has also gone through a period of inactive Debian maintainers and a period of inactive upstream maintainers, so it's accumulated a fair number of ignored bugs in the BTS. And in general, having others to fall back on is a good thing, as long as it doesn't lead to no one taking responsibility.

So, here's a deal: I want a comaintainer. There's a catch, though: this person doesn't need to be already involved in Debian. In fact, I'd prefer it if she weren't. If you have a good grasp on the English language, enthusiasm for Debian, and a willingness to learn some technical skills, contact me, preferably via email, and let me know who you are. Quodlibet is written in python, but I'm explicitly not saying that you need to know python in order to help out. You'll gain the benefit of having someone willing to answer your questions and direct your efforts and an automatic sponsor for uploads you prepare.

I can't say I have a ton of time to put into mentoring someone, but I'm willing to put in some, so hopefully such an arrangement will turn out well for all parties involved: you, me, upstream, and Debian. :)

Posted Mon 18 Jan 2010 06:56:17 AM UTC Tags: tags/quodlibet

Nice to see that everyone's favourite python/gstreamer-based audio player is still alive and kicking despite slow development over the past while. And while I dislike seeing more things move into Google's cloud, it sure as hell is nice to have an upstream issue tracker that is not a mailing list again. (After how long?)

Posted Sun 14 Sep 2008 10:52:00 PM UTC Tags: tags/quodlibet