To avoid that we need to repeat ourselves, we are collecting our standard requests for info and our reasons for rejects on this page.
Be reminded that the release team consists of humans. We don't like turning down a request for an unblock. So please consider carefully if the unblock is really warranted and don't just "try".
During the freeze, there are a lot of unblock requests that need our attention. Every exception, unrelated change, special case, need for extra input, etc increases the "cost" of your request on the release team, and reduces the time for other changes. Following the freeze policy and the suggestions in this document greatly increase the chances of success, even if you don't personally agree with these guidelines.
Look at the excuses
A package that is unblocked cannot migrate to testing if there are other issues preventing the migration. So in that case, you should fix these issues first and ask for an unblock after that.
The most up-to-date place to see exuses is update_excuses, but that's a long list for all packages. qa.d.o is normally only 15 minutes behind.
I want to add a new upstream release, is that possible?
Upstream releases are in general not acceptable during the freeze. However, every rule has exceptions. Please don't take this path lightly.
During the freeze we only want targeted fixes for bugs of severity important and higher (according to the BTS definition). It is possible that a new upstream release is a targeted bug fix release. However, the maintainer has to do the checking. They should convince themselves 100%, so they can convince us. Questions to ask and answer are:
Is this a targeted bug fix release, and how does that show?
What are the risks of the changes for the quality of the Debian release?
Is there a policy that describes what upstream considers acceptable for this upstream release?
Does that policy align with our bug severity important or higher?
Does upstream test thoroughly?
Has this package seen new upstream version uploads to stable in the past to facilitate security support?
Look at the diff. If it's long (TODO should we put a number here?), you probably need a targeted fix.
Look at the diff. If there's a number of changes not relevant for Debian, you probably need a targeted fix.
Look at the diff. If there something in there that is difficult to explain, but not directly related to the (RC or important) bugs you are fixing, you probably need a targeted fix.
Do I need to create bugs in the Debian BTS for the issues?
We care for bugs that are reported in the Debian BTS, but that doesn't mean that it's all we care about. If the maintainer evaluates the changes done by upstream and convinced themselves that they all qualified, they may be able to convince us, but it needs explaining.
How to proceed if my changelog doesn't explain everything?
During the freeze, please mention all changes to the package in the debian/changelog. If you don't, then please be verbose in your request for an unblock. The release team members can't read minds and normally a lot of requests need to be processed. The more relevant information is put directly into the initial request, without the need to follow all kind of links to all kind of places, the easier it is to process as much requests as possible.
What should I do if my unblock requests doesn't get a response in a long time?
It happens that your unblock request is met with silence. Typically this means that the review is difficult, e.g. because of a large amount of changes or because the unblock should actually be rejected. Consider checking if your unblock request is following our guidelines. If there is infomation you can provide that makes the review easier, e.g. by explaining the rational of certain changes, chopping changes into logical pieces, or pointing at upstream release policy, don't hesitate to add that in a follow-up to the unblock bug. Maybe the unblock should be rejected, but nobody wanted to do that yet (rejecting a request isn't nice to do), consider closing the unblock request yourself.
What not to do - why you might get a reject
Why are unrelated changes not allowed?
Every change to code can have unintended side affects. To avoid introducing new issues, we want targetted fixes during the freeze. Every unrelated change increases the risk of regressions and thus raises the bar for review. So, don't add unrelated changes to your upload and unblock request.
Why can't I add or remove a binary package?
TODO Don't add or remove binary packages without pre-approval.
Causing problems in reverse dependencies
If you change requires fixes in reverse dependencies, don't upload it without pre-approval. Your change is likely to be rejected.
How to proceed if a new upstream version is unreviewable or has not-important changes?
Upstream releases are not acceptable during the freeze, but see about the possible exceptions in the moreinfo section. If it's clear that the new upstream release doesn't qualify for such an exception, an unblock request will be rejected.
If the new upstream release includes fixes for bugs of severity important and
higher (according to the BTS definition), which you want bring to testing,
you'll have to backport them to the version of your package currently in
testing. You'll have to "undo" your new upstream release upload to unstable by
mangling the version number, e.g. by using the +really style:
upstream-version-in-testing-1, upload the
package to unstable and request an unblock for that.
I bumped the debhelper compat level, why is it rejected?
The debhelper compat mechanism is there to stabilize debhelpers behaviour. Bumping it is not allowed during the freeze. Changing the debhelper compat version changes the resulting packages, sometimes in complicated or unintended ways. Carefully checking the details of these changes is too much work when processing an unblock request.