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Re: The new Social Contract and releasing Sarge

On Fri, Apr 30, 2004 at 02:10:46AM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 28, 2004 at 04:08:37AM +0200, Jeroen van Wolffelaar wrote:
> > It now turns out that Anthony Towns based his sarge-ignore policy on his
> > reading of the Social Contract. 
> I'm insulted that you'd think it was anything else.

I'm very sorry. I did unfortunately not read the messages you quoted
below because I actually killfiled that thread (it started out as a
discussion on a rewrite of something that has already been said --
unsurprisingly numerous time even), even though I dare say to have read
well over 90% of the non-free discussion on -vote in past few months.

Anyway, from the point of view of those people who believe the Social
Contract always used to say that f.e. GFDL'd docs were violating the
Social Contract, and I am in that category of people, it is not so
strange to think that the release-policy excluding GFDL'd documents
in main being a reason to not release was an actual release-choice made
out of practical considerations, even though it might violate the Social

I do not consider it very strange if for practical reasons some
agreements are not followed up to the letter -- that is done all over
the world. Example: According to Dutch law, it is forbidden to posess
any drugs (Opiumwet Artikel 2C&3C). For practical reasons however,
individuals who posess small amounts of soft-drugs are not prosecuted,
it is even official state policy to not do so.

I actually agree with that policy, and this is a government having a
policy to not abide by its own laws.
> If the developer body doesn't have faith that delegates are going to
> abide by the social contract, I don't see why they wouldn't be calling
> for their removal from any positions of responsibility. The social
> contract is a core document defining how Debian is meant to operate;
> it's not something we should be treating lightly.

Of course this is no light issue. However, the GFDL issue was possibly
being resolved by talks with the FSF. W.r.t the other major issue,
binary firmware, it is being disputed whether it is actually a
violation of the GPL.

In the light of this, I believe, and I think I'm not alone, that it
would be not unacceptable to slightly[1] violate the SC in these two
issues. I also do not think it is the RM who would be at fault for
letting a release happen when some package fails to abide by the Social
Contract: it is the maintainer's duty to watch over it. For example
clause two of the SC, "We Will Give Back to the Free Software
Community", might not be true for every package (i.e., fixed bugs aren't
fed back upstream), but I consider it okay if the RM decides that
packages that violate the SC in that regard are still released.

Abiding the SC is a duty of the whole project, not just of Release
Manager. Both not fixing a SC-compliance issue in a certain package in
unstable today and releasing Sarge with such a package is IMHO a
violation of the Social Contract. It should be fixed by the members of
the project, but it is not a death-sin if that doesn't happen today.

> > I therefore propose a GR which explicitely excuses Sarge from some
> > issues, something that previously was already done by the Release
> > Manager on his own. 
> I'm offended by this, too. I did not at any point excuse or attempt
> to excuse anything or anyone in Debian from complying with the social
> contract. That assertion is as offensive as it is untrue.

I meant to say "... something that in the view of some was already done
by the RM on his own", I didn't mean to write that you did so in your
own opinion, as I was already aware that was not the case.

I apologize for suggesting this untrue thing.

About the offensiveness, see above: I don't think it would be abject if
it were actually the case, we seem to disagree on that. I'm sorry but
I cannot do much about the fact that you feel offended by being ascribed
my interpretation of your actions (the interpretation of which I now
know is false).


[1] Slightly refers to border-line cases here, I would not have found
	it acceptible if the RM knowingly excused the inclusion of f.e.
	ArcView in main

Jeroen van Wolffelaar
Jeroen@wolffelaar.nl (also for Jabber & MSN; ICQ: 33944357)

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