IRC as a Debian communication channel


Raphaël Hertzog <>

Time Line

Proposal Submission: October 31st, 2001
Discussion period: November 1st, 2001 to November 14th, 2001
Voting period: November 15th, 2001 to November 29th, 2001


  1. Guillaume Morin <>
  2. Michael D. Ivey <>
  3. Stephen Stafford <>
  4. Gergely Nagy <>
  5. Jérôme Marant <>




1. Context

A #debian-devel operator regularly kicks (sometimes bans) people from the
channel if they are not Debian developers. He does so even if
they have been introduced by developers as valuable Debian contributors
and behave correctly in the channel.

The invoked reason is historic. #debian-devel used to be for developers
only and from time to time issues discussed on are discussed on #debian-devel.  Even the
channel founders argued about the policy that should be applied
to #debian-devel.

Other facts :
- #debian-private exists and is key protected (the key should be known
  by debian developers only), although it is not really used
- #debian-devel is useful for many people and is useful for Debian
  contributors (not yet developers) :
  * the topic regularly ask for testers of prerelease of some packages
  * the topic usually warns about the worst problems of unstable
  * future developers can learn many things by following the discussions
- #debian-devel is used for day to day work related to Debian's

2. Problems

* The IRC channels #debian-* are not officially recognized as part of
  Debian's communication channels.

* Debian can't treat valuable contributors like it's done actually on IRC.
  Kicking a person who naturally has its place within the developer's
  community (because of his interest and his work) is not reasonable.

  (Personal note: this kind of behavior gives Debian its bad image of a
   closed community preaching openness)

* Debian's philosophy concerning the development has always been to open
  the communication channels. There's a mismatch here.

3. Proposed changes

We should acknowledge the fact the IRC channels are used to communicate
within Debian. They are only an alternate way to discuss things. They
are not the main communication channels (the mailing lists are). This
should be documented in Debian Developers Reference and wherever it's

By acknowledging their existence, we also have to apply the usual Debian
policies :
- all #debian-* channels on OpenProjects should be open to everyone
  except #debian-private which is for registered debian developers only
  (the actual "key protection" may be replaced by a better identification
   mechanism at any time)
- the "netiquette" (RFC 1855, section 4.1.2) applies, channels'
  subjects should be respected

Nevertheless, some specific IRC rules apply :
- the channels should not be publicly archived without notice
- public quotations may not be accepted by everyone

4. Item proposed to vote (after the discussion period)

[ ] I accept the ratification of IRC channels as a communication medium
    and as such they have to follow the usual Debian policies (adapted
    for IRC habits)


Withdrawn by the proposer on 14 November 2001.