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Re: RFD: amendment of Debian Social Contract

On Thu, Oct 30, 2003 at 01:41:40AM +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> I think I agree with the comment that this amendment mixes too many 
> things into one proposal. For example, I agree with the generalisation 
> (rationale point 2) and most of the "editorial" changes, but violently 
> disagree with changing the use of "software" from its true meaning to 
> something apparently meaning "programs" (rationale point 4).

I largely agree with you, actually, but:

1) The Debian Social Contract is meant to be read by everyone, not just
   Debian Developers with a subtle and nuanced understanding of digital
   ontology; and
2) I am informed (on debian-legal) that the existing wording causes the
   Debian Social Contract's actual semantic meaning to be distorted or
   even rendered incorrectly in some foreign translations.

Both of these cause disagreements and flamewars, especially the later,
which leads to needless internal strife.

While I share your wish that people would have a more closely-reasoned
understanding of the term "software", empirical evidence seems to
indicate that many people don't.  I feel we should route around this
damage in the Social Contract instead of using the Contract as platform
from which to correct people's understanding of what is nowadays a
commonplace English now.  Such activities are simply beyond the Social
Contract's scope.  The Social Contract is there to clearly communicate
our mission -- our guiding principles -- from Debian to the world.
Other considerations must be secondary.

I understand that you might feel I am betraying the position I
vigorously defended on debian-legal recently, but I do not feel my
opinion is inconsistent with the views I've expressed there over the
past months.  Debian-legal is where nuanced parsing of language thrives.

I believe that, in actual fact, the Debian Project does not distinguish
between works that are "software" and works that are any other sort of
stream of bits.  My amendments to the Social Contract are *intended* to
make this crystal clear.  If you have any suggestions for better
achieving that end that do not cause the Social Contract to digress into
a pedantic lesson in terminology, then I'd love to hear them.

More briefly, I do not feel that the Social Contract is a document that
should have to have footnotes.

> Please break this amendment up.

Please see my reply to Bas Zoetekouw for why I don't want to do this.

G. Branden Robinson                |    The best place to hide something is
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    in documentation.
branden@debian.org                 |    -- Ethan Benson
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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