To introduce a change in the current DebianPolicy, the change proposal has to go through a certain process.
- The change should be technically correct, and consistent with the rest of the policy document. This means no legislating the value of π. This also means that the proposed solution be known to work; iterative design processes do not belong in policy.
- The change should not be too disruptive; if very many packages become instantly buggy, then instead there should be a transition plan. Exceptions should be rare (only if the current state is really untenable), and probably blessed by the TC.
- The change has to be reviewed in depth, in the open, where any one may contribute; a publicly accessible, archived, open mailing list.
- Proposal should be addressed in a timely fashion.
- Any domain experts should be consulted, since not every policy mailing list subscriber is an expert on everything, including policy maintainers.
- The goal is rough consensus on the change, which should not be hard if the matter is technical. Technical issues where there is no agreement should be referred to the TC; non-technical issues should be referred to the whole developer body, and perhaps general resolutions lie down that path.
- Package maintainers whose packages may be impacted should have access to policy change proposals, even if they do not subscribe to policy mailing lists (policy gazette?).
Each suggested change goes through different states. These states are denoted through either usertags of the firstname.lastname@example.org user or, for patch, pending, and wontfix, regular tags. Current list of bugs
The Policy delegates have final responsibility for managing the tags on bugs and will try to update tags as new bugs are submitted or as activity happens on bugs. However, others are actively encouraged to help out, especially by adding the seconded tag as described below. Don't worry about making a mistake; it's always easy to fix later. The only exception is that only the Policy delegates should mark a change as accepted (pending) or rejected (wontfix).
State A: Issue raised
Detect need, like gaps/flaws in current policy, or a new rule should be added. Any user or developer may start this step. There is a decision point here, not all issues are in scope of policy. TAG: issue
What needs to happen next: If this is in scope for Policy, discuss the issue and possible solutions, moving to the discussion tag, or if the matter is sufficiently clear, go directly to a proposal for how to address it, moving to the proposal tag. If this is not in scope for Policy, close the bug.
State B: Discussion
Discuss remedy. Alternate proposals. Discussion guided by delegates. There should be a clear time limit to this stage, but as yet we have not set one. TAG: discussion
What needs to happen next: Reach a conclusion and consensus in the discussion and make a final proposal for what should be changed (if anything), moving to the proposal tag.
State D: Proposal
A final proposal has emerged from the discussion, and there is a rough consensus on how to proceed to resolve the issue. TAG: proposal
What needs to happen next: Provided that the rough consensus persists, develop a patch against the current Policy document with specific wording of the change. Often this is done in conjunction with the proposal, in which case one may skip this step and move directly to patch tag.
State E: Wording proposed
A patch against the Policy document reflecting the consensus has been created and is waiting for formal seconds. The standard patch tag is used for this state, since it's essentially equivalent to the standard meaning of that tag. TAG: patch
What needs to happen next: The proposal needs to be reviewed and seconded. Any Debian developer who agrees with the change and the conclusion of rough consensus from the discussion should say so in the bug log by seconding the proposal.
State F: Seconded
The proposal is signed off on by N Debian Developers. To start with, we're going with N=3, meaning that if three Debian Developers agree, not just with the proposal but with the conclusion that it reflects consensus and addresses the original issue -- it is considered eligible for inclusion in the next version of Policy. Since Policy is partly a technical project governance method, one must be a Debian Developer to formally second, although review and discussion is welcome from anyone. Once this tag has been applied, the bug is waiting for a Policy team member to apply the patch to the package repository. TAG: seconded
What needs to happen next: A Policy maintainer does the final review and confirmation, and then applies the patch for the next Policy release.
This tag is not used very much because normally a Policy maintainer applies the patch and moves the proposal to the next state once enough seconds are reached.
State G: Accepted
Change accepted, will be in next upload. The standard pending tag is used for this state since it matches the regular meaning of pending. TAG: pending
What needs to happen next: The bug is now in the waiting queue for the next Policy release, and there's nothing left to do except for upload a new version of Policy.
State H: Reject
Rejected proposals. The standard wontfix is used for this state. Normally, bugs in this state will not remain open; instead, a Policy team member will close them with an explanation. The submitter may then appeal to the tech-ctte if they so desire. Alternately, issues appealed to the tech-ctte may remain open with this tag while that appeal procedes. TAG: wontfix
We may use one of the following tags here, but to date we have only used dubious and ctte. It's not clear whether we need more tags for this tage.
- Not a policy matter
- Referred to the Technical Committee (tech-ctte)
- Referred to the developer body
- Rejected by a Policy delegate
- The proposal timed out without a conclusion
What needs to happen next: The bug should be closed once a final resolution is reached, or retagged to an appropriate state if that final resolution reverses the decision to reject the proposal.
All Policy bugs are additionally categorized by class of bug.
The normative tag is used for bugs that make normative changes to Policy, meaning that the dictates of Policy will change in some fashion as part of the resolution of the bug if the proposal is accepted. The full process is followed for such bugs. TAG: normative
The informative tag is used for bugs about wording issues, typos, informative footnotes, or other changes that do not affect the formal dictates of Policy, just the presentation. The same tags are used for these bugs for convenience, but the Policy maintainers may make informative changes without following the full process. Informative bugs fall under their discretion. TAG: informative
The packaging tag is used for bugs about the packaging and build process of the debian-policy Debian package. These bugs do not follow the normal process and will not have the other tags except for pending and wontfix (used with their normal meanings). TAG: packaging