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Dylan Thurston <dpt@math.harvard.edu> writes:

> I'm much more interested in the arguments why it's a good idea in the
> first place to include the snippets than in these arguments about how
> much work it would be to remove the unmodifiable snippets.

Fair enough.

(1) Allowing snippets to be included is the current Debian practice,
 so the burden of proof is on those who would propose to remove them
 to show a compelling reason for doing so.

(2) No practical problems have arisen from allowing snippets to be
 included.  No one has proposed any gedanken practical problem.
 Generally we decide that something is bad (a violation of the DFSG or
 social contract) because we come up with a gedanken problem with it.
 This has served as an excellent acid test, and has kept debian-legal
 grounded and effective despite its chaotic nature.

(3) Snippets can help people understand the circumstances surrounding
 the creation of some software, understand the author, and in general
 be edifying educational and entertaining.  The GNU Manifesto is a
 good example.  But as my canonical example I'm going to use a copy of
 the heart-rending email from his cancer-stricken and now deceased
 sister that inspired an upstream author to study molecular biology,
 work on colon-cancer oncogenes, and write a biosequence-processing
 program which is packaged for Debian.  Removing such snippets would
 serve no purpose but to separate us from our roots and impoverish our

To sum up: snippets can be good, no one has given any grounded
argument for why snippets are bad, and removing them would be an
enormous and divisive pain in the ass.  We should keep the status quo.


(I'm including this to try and keep the discussion on-topic.)

*** A "snippet" is a file in a source tarball which:
***  - MERELY ACCOMPANIES and is not an integral part of the source
***  - is REMOVABLE
***  - is NON-FUNCTIONAL (not code, not documentation, not needed for build)
***  - is NON-TECHNICAL in nature
***  - is usually of historic, humorous, or prurient interest
***  - is usually NOT itself MODIFIABLE, eg "may redistribute verbatim"
***  - is very SMALL compared to the technical material it accompanies
*** (examples of such snippets are historic or humorous emails and
*** usenet posts, political essays, jokes, and the like.)

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