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Re: PROPOSED: interpretive guidelines regarding DFSG 3, modifiability, and invariant text

I think Branden's (despite his plea at the end) will end up getting
interpreted as narrow legal rules, and we will see people (perhaps
with pseudonymous initials JG) saying noise like "this meets the
letter of the rule, why are you complaining".

I think that the plea (and the fact that these are guidelines... though, the DFSG are supposedly guidelines too... that didn't last very long) goes a long way.

The risk of someone following the letter but breaking the spirit is arguably not greater than your informal alternative; and Branden's version could well be seen as an attempt to put as much of the spirit as possible into letters.

The danger with rules that attempt to cover every case is that they
invariably will not,

How very Gödel, but true.

 and you therefore end up tying your hands and
doing the wrong thing in the corner case--or--you just go ahead and
break the rule.

That's why we've (okay, you've, this was before my time) set up a system where the rules can be changed, patched, fixed, improved. Non-static.

So my proposed alternative is deliberately structured to convey to
other developers the rough consensus that we have achieved here,
without trying to go beyond that and give a rigid definition.  That
way, cooperative developers *will* be able to figure out what's
allowed and what's not.

...and non-cooperative developers might find the letter of your informal alternative easier to follow without breaking the spirit. Or I don't know. I can't really think of a way.

 And, as a practical matter, they will ask
debian-legal just like they always have.

Is this an issue that has been asked a lot in the past? Or was it so absurd only the warped minds of debian-legal regulars could've thought of it? :)

Still, you have good points. You and Branden can take it from here and duke it out.

(this particular discussion feels very Fudge vs Gurps. Which ruleset covers more situations?)

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