[aur-general] discussion about activity

Xyne xyne at archlinux.ca
Wed Aug 7 10:10:45 EDT 2013


I want to discuss our notions of "activity". According to the current bylaws,

>If a TU becomes inactive without declaring it, "disappears", someone must motion for their removal for reason of unwarranted and undeclared inactivity, and the normal procedure for the motion is followed.

The problem is that there is no definition of "active" here. The text may be
interpreted to mean that a motion should be made if a TU has any AUR packages
flagged out-of-date, which is presumably not the intention.

The only metric we currently have for determining inactivity is

> active TUs that keep quorum from being established on a voting procedure for three consecutive voting procedures (they need not be on the same motion) are automatically brought up for removal procedure, by reason of unwarranted inactivity.

That is also a useless metric, as 3 votes could easily be called simultaneously
the same day that a TU was hit by a car.

As I see it, these clauses are trying to achieve two different things:
1) provide a way to remove TUs who clearly have no intention of fulfilling
   their duties
2) ensure that vote results are representative of the group

I think there is a better way to achieve that which avoids the ambiguities and
other problems of the current text.

I propose, **as a starting point for the discussion**, that we remove the
aforementioned clauses (and dependent context). To deal with removing inactive
users, the following can be added to the end of the "Removal of a TU" section,
replacing the current clause of special removals:

> An exception to the standard removal procedure is made if a TU has not done
> ANY of the following for a period of at least 2 months:
> 1. added, removed or updated a package in +[community]+ or the AUR
> 2. performed any action that required TU privileges on the AUR
> 3. posted a message to aur-general
> In this special case, SVP is followed by a discussion period of three days,
> a quorum of 66%, and a voting period of 5 days.

The first point is verifiable for all cases except AUR package removal. The
second point is verifiable in the case of votes but not for moderation actions
such as merges and deletions of other packages. This could possibly be changed
in the AUR backend. The third is obviously verifiable.

This clause does not preclude the removal of TUs for other reasons and the
bylaws currently allow for removal motions at any time. If a TU only posts
inconsequential messages to the mailing list once every two months to avoid
activating the clause then he or she can still be brought up for removal.

The clause is essentially a "housekeeping clause for automatic cleanup of
completely inactive TUs. 

With Lukas' new patch set, the AUR will now have an activity field. I also
propose that the meaning of this field be limited strictly to quorum, and thus
be completely independent of the definition of activity above. A TU should mark
him-/herself as inactive only when he/she will be unable to participate in
votes for a period of time. The TU will then be excluded from the quorum
calculation (and also prevented from voting, and possibly other activities).

Again, there is no need to include a clause in the bylaws for automatic motions
if a TU prevents quorum from being reached. The motion can be raised without
such a clause. This is natural. If three votes on the same day fail to meet
quorum then it is clearly a different case then three votes over the course of
1-2 months.

The field should perhaps be made a checkbox named "present" rather than

With these changes, other parts of the section of the bylaws entitles "Active
vs. Inactive" will need to be changed, as declaring inactivity to aur-general
will have no significance.* This avoids problems with truly unforeseeable
absences such as connection problems and medical emergencies. Users may still
make optional announcements at their own discretion with the usual requests
for others to manage their packages for a period of time, if necessary.

I have attached a first draft (new.txt) of these proposals along with a patch.
Note that this is not a formal proposal. I plan to make one but I hope to get
some feedback first. Please read through the attached version and compare it to
the current version. The attachments also include the old version, the patch, a
brief changelog, and the resulting HTML document for easier reading and
comparison to https://aur.archlinux.org/trusted-user/TUbylaws.html

The bylaws Git repo can be found here:

Note that I have made some stylistic changes that preserve the original
meaning. I can separate these from the proposal if necessary.


* Incidentally, I have always been uncomfortable with the way inactivity
  announcements are expected to be made on a public mailing list. Inactivity is
  almost always due to being away from home for a period of a week or more.
  Announcing that in public is an open invitation to burglars and other
  griefers who know who the announcer is and where he/she lives.
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