thoughts on potential outcomes for non-free ballot
I've been thinking quite a bit about Andrew Suffield's statement
of the purpose of this upcoming ballot.
In particular, I've been thinking about what each of the major options on
that ballot could mean, if it should win the vote. [Each of these are,
potentially, "answers the bloody question".]
Andrew's "drop non-free" proposal:
I think this will require further ballots. At the very least, he seems
to intend a separate ballot for grammatical changes (though it's possible
that that proposal will be included on this ballot -- see below for that
Also, we should probably update the DFSG to indicate that they are
"Debian's Free Software Requirements", rather than merely being
guidelines. This would also require updating the social contract and
Finally, note that software currently in main which does not satisfy
all of our guidelines will get dropped -- there will be no "fallback
position". In particular, I'm thinking of GFDL licensed documentation,
but I can't guarantee that that's all.
* * * *
My proposal [has not yet been introduced]:
I've tried to capture our current practice in this proposal -- few changes
should be necessary. I've tried to capture as many good ideas as I could
recognize in this proposal, which hopefully will make it less likely
that we will need to update the social contract again for quite some time.
* * * *
If at least a quarter of the voters think that the default option
is better than any proposals to modify the social contract, nothing
will change. In principle, people who objected will be willing to say
why they objected and, in principle, we can reach some consensus which
incorporates those objections. This probably would not be easy.
* * * *
Andrew's grammatical fixes proposal [has not yet been introduced]:
It's not clear whether this proposal will be on this ballot or on some
other ballot. If it winds up on the same ballot, in some respects,
this proposal is very similar to mine. In fact, I adopted my proposed
changes to sections 2, 3 and 4 from a draft of this proposal. Likewise,
Andrew has adopted some of his proposal from issues I've raised.
However, this proposal is also more ambiguous than mine in a number of
places (in sections 1 and 5), and its still largely based on the state of
software back in the mid-90s when the social contract was first drafted.
He makes this ambiguity about non-free rather explicit as he has drafted
it to appear on a separate ballot. Which, of course, means that it
probably shouldn't be a potential outcome on the ballot.
The social contract's ambiguity about handling of non-free software is
what led to Andrew's "drop non-free" proposal. So if this did somehow
wind up on the non-free ballot, there's a significant chance that we
might have to come back and address the remaining ambiguities.
Developers giving up in disgust.
With any of the above outcomes, it's possible for developers to quit
the project in disgust. Some might give up because they feel they can
no longer get their jobs done. Some might give up because we "can't
reach a satisfactory decision". Etc.
Of course, quitting is everyone's right, but I'm hoping no one feels
the need to exercise that right.