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



On Thursday 09 February 2006 21:36, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
> The phrase you used was "personal whim."
>
> Whose judgment should he use instead?

No one's. He should allow the developers to decide without shaping the vote 
by imposing 3:1 supermajority requirements (when doing so presupposes the 
very issue under debate, as in the case of DFSG interpretation).

> He may interpret the Constitution to require that implicit
> modifications of Foundation Documents require 3:1 just as explicit
> ones do.  This is hardly a radical stretch.

Of course the constitution wants foundation documents to require 3:1. 
Everyone knows that. No one is denying that.

> And, he must determine for every resolution whether it is a
> modification of a Foundation Document.  He cannot shirk this
> responsibility; he must determine, and then issue the ballot.

No, he must not make any such determination in cases where the DFSG is in 
dispute. You keep asserting that, while ignoring the arguments I make as to 
_why_. He would not be shirking his duty, since my whole point is that he 
does not have that duty. He must not prejudge issues of DFSG 
interpretation; that is not his job.

> The Constitution is silent on who interprets the DFSG.

It's not brutally explicit, but it does seem to grant the power to the 
developers, though GRs and elections. Certainly not the Secretary.

> Issuing the ballot with a majority requirement when, in his opinion,
> the resolution effects a change to the DFSG, is a violation of the
> Constitution.

No, because his opinion on the DFSG is constitutionally irrelevant, and has 
no standing, and therefore should not be exercised.

> > 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).
>
> It is however ultimately *their* determination.  Yes, they should
> attend to consensus.  But they are not beholden to it.

Well, they could ignore it at every possible opportunity, and force the 
developers to override them with a vote for each and every NEW package in 
the queue. But then Debian would cease to function.

> I would note that Manoj explicitly requested comment here.  He was
> (and I presume, is) quite happy to receive people's opinions about the
> proper form of the ballot.
>
> > 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.
>
> It is the *Constitution* which imposes the 3:1 requirement on changes
> to the Foundation Documents.  It is the Secretary's job to give effect
> to that provision by creating correct ballots.

Your arguments seem to presuppose that DFSG-freeness is always obvious. But 
what is "correct" might be disputed. If the issue is whether or not 
something does violate the DFSG, then the Secretary should not decide/warp 
the issue ahead of the actual vote, even if he personally dislikes the 
resulting ballot.

> If I propose a resolution that says "This resolution is not a
> recission or modification of a Foundation Document.  The text of the
> DFSG shall remain intact just as is.  The main Debian archive may now
> include any software which it is legally permitted to distribute,
> whether it passes the tests of the DFSG or not," are you seriously
> saying that such a resolution requires only a majority vote?

Yes. Because I would trust the developers to see the amendment as the silly 
fraud that it would be, and vote it down. We don't need the Secretary's 
protection, believe it or not.

> > 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.
>
> How can he refuse?  If he refuses to interpret it, then he cannot
> assign the correct victory margin *AT ALL*.  If he says "this requires
> a majority" then that *is* a determination that the resolution does
> not modify the DFSG.  He cannot avoid making that determination.

A simple majority is obviously the default margin of victory for a vote.

> > 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.
>
> How can he say "because this does not change the DFSG, it requires a
> majority" without making a judgment that it does not change the DFSG?

A simple majority is the default, and so allowing the default margin is 
hardly a bold judgment. It's a refusal to make an extraordinary judgment, 
namely, that a supermajority is required.

Christopher Martin

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