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Re: snippets

Barak Pearlmutter <barak@cs.may.ie> writes:
> Dylan Thurston <dpt@math.harvard.edu> writes:

> (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.

Burden of proof arguments are, at best, very trick to make -- I
suggest you not rely on it.  Certainly I don't buy it in this case.
Unless you can actually point to someplace that says this is current
practice, I don't think you have a basis for saying that it is
actually a conscious practice at all.

> (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.

That doesn't seem too hard.  Outdated info is one example already
suggested -- out-of-date references to charitable orgs, or addresses,
etc.  Or what about a case where the snippet is written in the first
person, and the project changes hands?  It would likely be desirable
to rewrite it referring to the original author.

> (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 culture.

What's so terrible about paraphrasing this message?  If it's truly
"heart-rending" (by which I presume you mean it's well written) it
would be much better if it were modifiable, so it could be edited.

> 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.

Let's split the question in two:

* Should snippets be unmodifiable?  Does it serve any purpose for the

* If the answer to the above is no, should we distribute them anyway,
  simply because we don't have them in a free form?

So what precisely is your position?  If you're not arguing that these
snippets are a good thing I don't want to waste a lot of effort
arguing that any purpose they serve could be served as well if they
were freely modifiable.  Because frankly, we've been over that ground.

Yet if you're claiming that the answer to the second question is
'yes', I'm not clear how your arguments support that position.

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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