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Re: Non-DD's in debian-legal

Jeremy Hankins writes ("Non-DD's in debian-legal"):
> I'm not sure I understand this part, though.  Do you think that folks
> like myself, who are not DD's, should not participate in the discussions
> on d-l?

Actually, I think they should not participate, in general.

The arguments that are had on debian-legal about what is an acceptable
licence, and what principles these decisions should be based on, are
often very political.  Political decisions in Debian should be taken
by DD's.

Arguments about licences are phrased as if the questions are all
clear-cut and right-or-wrong, but actually usually they're matters of
interpretation where weight of numbers on one side or another ends up
often carrying the day.  (`Am I really the only person who thinks this
is completely mad?' `No, but all the rest of them are too busy writing

The situation with non-DD's pontificating about what is and is not an
acceptable Free licence is mitigated somewhat by the fact that
debian-legal is only a talking shop and doesn't actually decide, but
as we've just seen, people (both people from debian-legal and
elsewhere) do seem to think that debian-legal is or ought to be where
these decisions are taken.

Discussions about licensing are different from most other kinds of
activity in Debian precisely because they're political and have a very
low barrier to entry.  Picking up the slack in licence approval (if
indeed there is any slack) is not at all like picking up the slack in
maintenance of a particular package.  To maintain a package you need a
clear technical head, a certain minimum time commitment, and the
results (good or bad) are clearly visible.  Whereas anyone can blow
off hot air on a mailing list.

Part of the problem here is that the selection process for DD's has
become discredited, because (a) many good and useful people making
significant technical contributions are still stuck outside the fence
and also (b) many less good and less useful people are on the inside
making a mess.  I don't have an easy answer to this but it's something
we should all be thinking about.

But dismantling the or undermining the tie between political
decisionmaking in Debian to formal membership is not the answer.


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