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Re: RFD: amendment of Debian Social Contract

On Sun, Nov 02, 2003 at 08:46:54PM -0700, Joel Baker wrote:
> On Sun, Nov 02, 2003 at 04:18:19AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > On Sat, Nov 01, 2003 at 11:04:03PM -0600, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
> > > 	The draft so far adds no such proscription for the admins
> > >  (indeed, the whole point is to remove such a proscription).
> > 
> > Yes.  If the Social Contract had a provision proscribing the Debian
> > Account Managers from disabling developers' accounts, and we voted by a
> > landslide to remove that proscription, would it follow that the Debian
> > Account Managers should immediately disable all developers' accounts?
> > 
> > After all, they'd have a mandate, right?
> It would follow, so far as I can see, that they would deactivate developer
> accounts under whatever criteria they saw fit.

Yes.  Let's keep in mind that those criteria are at least in part
determined by generally accepted principles of conduct in the Project.

> Given the proscription that existed previously against doing so, this
> would (likely) raise the number of such events from 0.

I agree that that's a reasonable expectation.

> Raising the specter of disabling all accounts is both hyperbole;

(Both hyperbole and what?)

In any case, I don't think so.  That's what my proposed GR is accused of
"really" meaning, so I don't think it's any more reasonable to expect the
swift and sudden execution of all non-free packages through the
unilateral action of the FTP admins than it would be to expect the swift
and sudden deactivation of all developers' accounts if this hypothetical
GR were passed.

If you're saying that some people's "restatements" of my propose GR are
hyperbolic, than I agree.  :)

> however, it is not unthinkable that the FTP admins would take the
> removal of the terms regarding non-free as a mandate allowing them to
> remove portions of the archive as they saw fit, beyond the current
> standards applied to all packages.

I think even that is carrying it too far.  I suspect the FTP admins
would prefer to defer to the entire project before making such a

It's not like they don't have other responsibilities.  I think it's a
little fantastic to try to form a picture in people's minds of the
Debian archive administration team huddled over their terminals, their
faces lit only by a CRT with a little root shell prompt and the command
"/project/org/ftp.debian.org/cabal/s3kr1t/nuke-non-free.pl" all keyed in
and ready to go, their fingers poised over the enter key, a sweat of
lustful anticipated beading on their upper lips.

> Perhaps they would, and perhaps not. I'm not even saying that I disagree
> with removing the clause about supporting non-free. But I do firmly believe
> that, short of a clearly expressed opinion in the GR itself directing them
> to take a certain course of action (removal, or continued support status
> quo, or some other option), they will excercise their power in whatever
> manner they see fit.

Well, yes.  Do we have reason to mistrust their judgement?

> Given that it would take another GR for the developers as a whole to
> formally counter this, I'd prefer to simply settle the question in the
> first pass (besides, it's polite to the folks we're asking to do the work
> to tell them what, exactly, we want them to do).

I don't want them to do anything in particular.  The scope of my
proposed GR is modification of the Social Contract, not the issuance of
a list of demands to the Debian archive administration team.

We can, as individual developers, ask the Debian Project Leader to
advise them to not proceed precipitously, if he feels that is necessary.

Are any Debian Developers reading this *actually* scared that the
archive admins will suddenly "pull the plug" on non-free as a direct and
immediate consequence of passage of a GR to drop clause 5 from the
Social Contract?  If so, please explain the grounds for your belief.
You can reply to me privately if you fear that speaking frankly and
publicly will result is some sort of reprisals from them.

(For the record, I don't think "reprisals" are a reasonable fear either.
If the DAMs shut off accounts every time they were criticized, there'd
be a lot more packages maintained by Debian QA, probably including
XFree86.  :) )

> However, if this language is, in fact, part of the GR itself (or language
> of similar intent, with a more specific directive to the FTP admins,
> such as has been suggested in other messages), I think that will address
> it. Prefferably in the GR itself, rather than as "merely" accompanying
> rationale, but that matter has been brought up in other parts of the thread
> already.

I am uncomfortable with expanding the scope of my proposed GR to include
specific directives to anyone (well, except, I suppose, the implicit
responsibility of the Debian WWW team and the doc-debian maintainer to
see to it that an amended SC is reflected publicly within some
reasonable time frame -- but that's not the sort of thing you're talking

G. Branden Robinson                |    A celibate clergy is an especially
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    good idea, because it tends to
branden@debian.org                 |    suppress any hereditary propensity
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    toward fanaticism.    -- Carl Sagan

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