Well, this really is a controversal topic to say the least. While having the RMs get paid to get Etch out might be a good thing, the big problem I see with dunctank is that it is initiated by people very prominent inside Debian and moreover by people perceived as friends of th RMs in question. Though dunctank says that is distinct from Debian, due to the high profile the people involved have inside the Debian community, this distinction might not be recognized by less careful observers. The second problem is that the payment the RMs get is not connected to well specified tasks, but they are for “working on the release of Debian “Etch”. And finally, there is the problem that this is said to be an experiment. However, a good experiment has well defined objectives and well defined boundary conditions.
In other words: Regarding Dunc-Tank, it is unclear to me what the experiment is trying to achieve.
I admit I voted as much in favor of the experiment as the GR allowed, but in the meantime, I regret doing so. My vote was because my impression was that Dunc-Tank would pay just enough to pay rent, food and the other usual expenses (insurances, debts etc.). But now each of the two RMs is supposed to receive 6k$. This surely is less than they could earn working as IT freelancers, but it sure exceeds their pure living expenses. While just covering their living expenses would be OK for me (in the sense that I could live with it, not in the sense of being happy about it), paying substantially more isn’t, but that’s just me. A DPL collecting money to pay certain DDs is always going to ask for trouble. Or as Ben collins put it back in 2001:
… use Debian money to pay developers. It can never be done fairly, or in a way so as not to piss someone off. It will always be susceptible to political gains and/or favoritism.
This subject caused a lot of hatred, and in my opinion, the experiment is a failure. Though it might help to get Etch out in time, it caused many DDs to cut down on the time they spend on Debian, among them people like the DWN editor, who used to invest a lot of time. And this effect will not go away when Etch is released and is thus hurting Debian in the long run.
The whole thing might have been a lot different if some random, mostly unknown DD (or even better: non-DD) had started dunc-tank, collecting money and finally paying some DDs to work on some specific tasks. But the fact that the DPL started it makes it so controversial. But on the other hand, it would have been less likely that dunc-tank collected enough money to do so in that case.
Honestly, if I were to decide, I would drop dunc-tank completely once Etch has been released (it’s too late to do it now, it would just deprive Debian of the benefits and still cause all the negative side effects). The people who thought (and think) dunc-tank was a good idea could then restart it later under some different name and without involvement of the DPL.
There is only one position in Debian I could see reasons why the person occupying it should receive some sort of compensation: The DPL. The reason I see here is that this position requires a lot of time if taken seriously. This also means that many people can’t reasonably apply for it since they would need to resign from their “real world” job.