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Re: Amendment to GR on GFDL, and the changes to the Social Contract

On Thursday 09 February 2006 20:18, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
> Christopher Martin <chrsmrtn@debian.org> writes:
> > On Thursday 09 February 2006 18:28, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
> >> Christopher Martin <chrsmrtn@debian.org> writes:
> >> > But what you are saying is that the developers don't have that
> >> > right.
> >>
> >> Quite wrong.  I'm saying they *do* have this right, and it is a right
> >> that must be exercised by a 3:1 vote.
> >
> > But why does the Secretary get to decide whether this barrier should be
> > set or not? You can't say "the developers have the right to interpret
> > the DFSG, not the Secretary; the Secretary only gets to arbitrarily
> > decide to make the passage of some amendments far more difficult than
> > for others because of his or her own contrary interpretation of the
> > DFSG, at his or her personal whim." That's obviously ludicrous.
> So you think that Manoj's opinion was on the basis of personal whim?

It was his personal judgment. I'm sure he thought about it carefully, but 
that's irrelevant. It's still not (as I've argued elsewhere) his power to 
do so, however carefully.

> > Besides, that bit of the constitution seems designed to provide an
> > "out" for the Project in case some matter of procedure is challenged by
> > some other delegate. Are you seriously asserting that that little
> > clause gives the Secretary the right to de facto interpret, or at least
> > heavily restrain the useful range of interpretation of, the DFSG?
> I'm saying that the Secretary interprets the Constitution in cases of
> disagreement.

Perhaps you missed the part where I pointed out that the DFSG is not part of 
the constitution.

> > Of course. For the twenty millionth time, no one is denying that 3:1
> > _ought_ to be required when a resolution is put forth which
> > contradicts/overrides/supercedes/modifies/whatever a foundation
> > document. The real issue, which you keep refusing to address, is who
> > gets to decide what is or is not a contradiction/etc. rather than a
> > clarification/interpretation of a foundation document?
> I certainly haven't refused to address it.
> The Secretary must make such a determination in order to issue a
> proper ballot.  It is a necessary part of the Secretary's job.  It is
> just as wrong for him to require only a majority when 3:1 is really
> right, as it is for him to require 3:1 when only a majority is really
> right.  There is no "safe course"; he must make a judgment, and then
> issue the correct ballot.

No, the Secretary is not obligated to do so, as I've explained in previous 
posts. He/she is not at all obligated to make a judgment. It is not their 
job to ensure a "proper ballot" if ensuring a proper ballot would require 
them to overstep their authority by engaging in personal DFSG 
interpretation. They would have to suck it up and let the vote go ahead, 
and hope that the common sense of the developers prevailed.

> This is, incidentally, just what everyone else does when their job in
> Debian requires it.  For example, the ftpmasters must reject a package
> whose license is contrary to the DFSG, and they have the power to do
> so.

The ftpmasters should, in theory at least, follow the decisions of the 
Project as to what should be in main. They would also be overstepping their 
authority if they started rejecting packages under the GPL because they 
decided that they didn't like it anymore, since longstanding consensus 
allows the GPL (though this could be reversed by a vote).

The Secretary should also follow the directives, standard interpretations,  
etc. of the Project, but when it is precisely an issue of interpretation 
that is at hand, they should refuse to inject their own views by setting 
3:1 supermajorities, and let the developers decide the matter. To impose a 
3:1 supermajority would be to presuppose the very issue being voted upon.

> > I'd rather risk a waste-of-time vote or two than a maverick Secretary
> > with extreme, outrageously bizarre views on the DFSG who doesn't
> > refrain from imposing them and makes a mess.
> So the Constitution has procedures for replacing the Secretary, you know.

Yes, but we shouldn't have to do that, since the Secretary should refuse to 
interpret the DFSG in the first place and let the developers themselves 
decide what to think. We don't need to be protected from ourselves.

> If the Secretary allows the amendment with only a majority
> requirement, then he most certainly *has* imposed the view that the
> amendment does not alter the DFSG.

No, he's refused to judge on the matter, and refused to shape the vote and 
prejudge the issue. Not at all the same as endorsing the acceptability of 
the proposal.

Christopher Martin

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