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Re: Honesty in Debian (was Re: Amendment to GR on GFDL, and the changes to the Social Contract

Steve McIntyre <steve@einval.com>:
> Yes, in all those cases. But you're missing the point in your rush to
> label people as dishonest liars.
I really don't want to label people as dishonest liars.  I believe that 
collectively the Debian Project has been misleading its users by providing a 
Social Contract which says one thing, and then not even trying to do what it 
says.  This is probably unintentional.  That's not the same thing as calling 
individuals dishonest liars, but I don't know how to say it clearly.

I guess this should have been titled "Honesty *of* Debian", not "Honesty *in* 

> All of these analogies you provide 
> are 100% clear-cut. The word "software", however, is _not_ (or at
> least, _has not been_) so clear-cut for many people, hence the
> ridiculously long, drawn-out discussions that have happened here and
> elsewhere trying to nail down the precise meanings of our terms.
Yes, of course, "software" is not clear -- hence the "editorial changes" GR!  

The point of my analogies was something which I wish people would understand, 
since it's been pointed out for years.  There were two valid interpretations 
of the old Social Contract, depending on the different meanings of the word 

(1) Software  is any collection of bits.  "Debian will remain 100% free 
software" therefore means "Debian will remain a collection of bits, and all 
of those bits will be free."
(2) Software is only computer programs.  "Debian will remain 100% free 
software" therefore means "Debian will remain only computer programs, and all 
of those programs will be free."

I was specifically pointing out with my analogies that "Debian will remain 
100% free software" requires that "Debian will remain software".  There is 
*no room* for "non-free non-software in Debian" -- and hence no room for 
anything non-free -- in that language, *regardless* of what you think 
software means.

And yet the people arguing that the old Social Contract permitted non-free 
documentation (or whatever) continue to make the claim that the old Social 
Contract permitted "non-free non-software".

The editorial changes were editorial changes to increase the clarity of the 
Social Contract, because the word "software" appears to muddle people's minds 
and render them unable to think straight.  

> As I've already said to you, natural languages like English are often
> not as precise in meaning as you seem to think. There is scope for
> ambiguity even in words that some people think may be clearly
> defined.
Oh yes.  But this is not one of those cases.  In this case, the Social 
Contract was quite clear: everything in Debian must be software.  And all the 
software must be free.  Regardless of what software means, that means that 
everything in Debian must be free.

Suppose the word was "blorp".  "Debian will remain 100% free blorp."  There's 
no room for non-free stuff in there, even though we have absolutely no idea 
what blorp means.

(Now, the exact way the 100% attaches left some wiggle room for Debian to be
"software but not 100% software", with the software being "100% free", but 
that really isn't much wiggle room, because then it would all be about 
checking that there wasn't "too much" non-software in Debian.  License texts 
might have been a small enough percentage to get by under that 
interpretation; documentation obviously would be far too much, given how much 
of it there is in Debian.)

> This is one of the reasons why legal contracts often make 
> such a big fuss of declaring definitions up front.
> I'd ask you to apologise for labelling people as dishonest; dishonesty
> implies a deliberate attempt to deceive, which has NOT happened here.
Quite right.  Sorry; I apologize.

I don't know a word for "saying outright false things which mislead people -- 
but without an intent to deceive".  Do you?  Sometimes English is deficient 
in vocabulary, and this is one of the cases.

Apologies for the rampant thread-breaking; I *cannot* get any mail program to 
pick up on the links from the web pages, my newsreader for reading through 
the gmane filter is temporarily busted, and I am not in a position to 
actually subscribe due to the suckiness and quota issues of my email 

Perhaps someone could fix either konqueror or kmail so that clicking on the 
mailto links on the web pages put in the correct headers.

Or someone could fix mozilla-firefox or mozilla-thunderbird so that clicking 
on the mailto links would actually open up a new mail message.

Nathanael Nerode  <neroden@twcny.rr.com>

Theocracy, fascism, or absolute monarchy -- I don't care which it is, I don't 
like it.

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