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Re: Ready to vote on 2004-003?

On Thu, May 20, 2004 at 06:52:58AM -0400, Raul Miller wrote:
> "I don't think the previous release policy is sound any longer" makes
> it sounds like "reverting the social contract" is not the right solution
> to this problem -- this might carry the message, but in a lame fashion.
> Is that what you have said?

Does it matter who said it, or if it's true?

Is it true?

>    We resolve to release Sarge as expediently as possible based on
>    the current set of packages which have been designated as release
>    candidates for Sarge, regardless of the state of DFSG compliance of
>    any of those packages.  

That would be in direct violation of the social contract. As a project,
do we want to wilfully and deliberately violate the social contract? I
wouldn't have thought so. If we're going to do that, why bother having
a social contract in the first place?

If we are going to do that, there's no need for a GR; the technical ctte
can just use that as the reasoning for setting the release policy back
to what it used to be right now.

If the tech ctte's not confident in doing that -- and you're a member,
so you should have a pretty good feel for that -- then you should ask
yourself why you think it'd be better if there was a GR backing it up. I'd
have thought good ideas could be justified purely on their merits, and
the weight of numbers is only useful for distributing the blame for bad
ideas so no one feels too responsible them. Should we be implementing
good ideas, or bad ones? Obviously, if you think it's a good idea,
and are confident about it, you've got an easy path to resolving this
issue. If anyone else has a problem with it, they can work out what to
do, and try to overrule the tech ctte by GR themselves.

> If you now think that the old release policy is incorrect based on what
> you've learned about how the project thinks, rather than because of the
> wording changes in the social contract, then focussing on what the social
> contract says is not the right approach.

Focussing on what the social contract says is a good way of deciding what
to think. Let's suppose that there was an embarassing situation involving
the administration of Debian resources -- say a bunch of project machines
were cracked, eg. What would be the appropriate result?  To fix the
hole obviously; but should we not mention the problem or downplay it (in
order to make sure folks don't panic unduly about their Debian installs,
perhaps, or just because that's what people usually do), or should we
release all the details possible, even if that's embarassing or gives
future crackers some useful tips? Looking at the social contract we see
"We Will Not Hide Problems", and we think "Well, it's not exactly covered,
but the clear intent seems to be that we should go public".

Having a contract like that helps us be consistent, even when we might be
tempted to make exceptions, which lets our users easily decide "Should
we use Debian or something else?", because they know exactly how we'll
handle things, rather than having to guess at what mood the DPL, RM,
or debian-admin is in on the day.

Everyone who thought the amendment was completely editorial thought that
the previous release policy was against the social contract. I'm not
really convinced anyone actually believed that -- in those circumstances,
it would've been far simpler to just have a GR overruling my policy
(as a DPL delegate; s4.1.3, simple majority required) and establishing
the alternative interpretation as clearly the correct one, IMO --
but whatever. On the other hand, that's not everybody. 

Various folks seem to think the appropriate group to interpret the
social contract is subscribers to the debian-legal list. That question
should probably be considered, but I've done everything I can to make it
possible for the tech ctte to make that decision. If they choose not to,
or we decide they're not able to, someone else will have to make the
decision. I will not. There are quite a few possibilities, each with
varying degrees of effectiveness and exploitability.

Interpreting the social contract as it stands to allow GFDL'ed docs
into main for sarge seems to me to make a mockery of the entire purpose
of the social contract, but, again, if folks think that's a good idea,
then you don't need to convince me to do it.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
Don't assume I speak for anyone but myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

``Like the ski resort of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking
  for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem.''

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