[Dextrose] Sugar UI Dictator

Bernie Innocenti bernie at codewiz.org
Sun Nov 21 17:44:20 EST 2010

On Sun, 2010-11-21 at 17:49 +0000, Martin Dengler wrote:

> I see your point.  Can we get Bernie to confirm the distinction?
> Perhaps you or he could provide an example of a UI-related decision
> that is not HIG-related[1]?

Splitting authority on UI changes and code changes is probably necessary
because experts in both fields are very rare.

The downside is that now each patch that touches the UI needs to go
through two distinct stages of approval.

In theory this is as simple as waiting for an email reply, but in
practice almost all the UI changes we've pushed form Paraguay and
Uruguay required extenuating discussions. Some proposed changes got
stalled because the submitter eventually gave up trying.

There was a time in which Eben was the UI dictator, Marco was the code
dictator, and minor changes to the UI could happen in one day. So,
splitting authority is probably ok, as long as there's a very tight
communication loop between decision makers.

On the other hand, establishing a UI committee and a code committee
seems dangerous to me. Even high-profile committees are slow and
indecisive. See for example C++ and XHTML. This doesn't mean we can't
have multiple people participate in UI discussions or reviewing patches
on the mailing list.

Leadership is something that happens very naturally and informally in
healthy projects much bigger than us. Over the last year, the Xbox Media
Center (http://xbmc.org) merged about 20 patches per day. That's about
20 times the commit rate on the sugar repository! If we come up with
*committees* to manage this, we'd better give up now.

== On the true meaning of Dictator ==

Sugar Labs is fundamentally a democratic organization, because we elect
an Oversight Board to represent the community.

However, like in all democracies, executive powers are delegated to a
certain number of ministers, officials and directors. If every decision
had to go through some parliament or committee, democracies wouldn't

My metaphor of a dictator is mostly a joke, because what I'm really
advocating for is ordinary managers with the autonomy to make decisions.
These managers could be appointed by the Board, if necessary, but is it
really necessary? There are probably 2-3 possible candidates for the
Design Team and 2-3 people for the Development Team. Why can't these
people simply have a little talk on IRC and come up with a name to put
in the wiki?

   // Bernie Innocenti - http://codewiz.org/
 \X/  Sugar Labs       - http://sugarlabs.org/

More information about the Dextrose mailing list