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Re: General Resolution: Removing non-free

On Wed, Jun 07, 2000 at 07:21:00PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 07, 2000 at 04:54:41AM -0400, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > There appears to be a bit of ad hominem attack here.
> Indeed.

Well, then, cut it out.

> > Nowhere in the contract does it state, or can it be logically construed,
> > that Debian's users are a proper subset of the free software community.
> > ...
> > The Contract is, as it says, one with the free software community.
> Interesting. I had always thought that when the social contract said
> ``We will be guided by the needs of our users and the free-software
> community'' that actually meant something. Clearly, thanks to your word
> play, it doesn't.

Contrariwise, I thought that the full title of the social contract:

"Social Contract" with the Free Software Community

actually meant something.

> I'm disappointed.

I do sympathize with you if have not carefully read the social contract
before, and if it fails to say things you think it should.  The General
Resolution process is open to you, as well.

> I'm not sure if I'm more disappointed that the social contract isn't
> binding, or that we're not willing to act as if it is anyway.

I don't think you can plausibly believe the former in any formal sense.
Debian doesn't even exist as a legal entity.  I'm sorry to shatter any
notions you may have had of legal liability or applicability of actual
contract law to Debian's social contract.

Does that mean we shouldn't execute the terms of the social contract
honorably?  No.  Of course we should.

> In this case, I suspect the interests of the free software community
> are fairly straightforward,

Why not ask them?

> varying from "who cares, just as long as you keep main just the same" to
> "bleh, non-free sucks, don't touch it",

You have an incredible propensity for manufacturing quotes in this thread,
although at least in this case you don't attribute them to anyone in
particular.  Maybe there's a free software developer (or more than one) who
thinks we SHOULD do what John proposes.  What then?

Maybe we should stop speculating and start soliciting opinions from members
of the free software community?

> More relevant is our user community's opinion, although apparently we're
> not required to care about that.

I fail to see how the language of the social contract requires us to hold
the needs or interests of the free software community over those of our
users, or vice versa.  In fact, section 4 seems to quite aggressive assert
their co-equal importance.  I don't think this is materially affected by
the fact that the social contract is actually WITH only the free software
community, as revealed by its title.

> > How do you propose to select such a group of representatives?  Or do you
> > think it is feasible to identify all the members of the free software
> > community and poll them on this issue?
> I'd still disagree with the proposal, but I wouldn't consider it breaking
> a promise or reneging on an agreement after seeing a majority of debian-user
> subscribers supporting it.

Would anything short of that convince you?  If not, then I do not see how
you can be motivated to solicit the opinions of the free software
community, since in your assessment the appropriateness of the GR can be
determined solely by a plebiscite submitted to a self-selected sample of
the Debian user community whose proportional relationship to the whole of
Debian users is unknown.

Sure sounds like a foolproof method to me.

G. Branden Robinson            |    Reality is what refuses to go away when
Debian GNU/Linux               |    I stop believing in it.
branden@ecn.purdue.edu         |    -- Philip K. Dick
roger.ecn.purdue.edu/~branden/ |

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