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Re: Proposal - Statement that Sarge will follow Woody requirement for main.

On Tue, May 25, 2004 at 12:24:40PM -0400, Raul Miller wrote:
> On Tue, May 25, 2004 at 08:20:28AM -0400, Raul Miller wrote:
> > > The constitution says that people may not actively work against rules made
> > > under the constitution (which includes those in foundation documents),
> On Tue, May 25, 2004 at 11:25:35PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> > The problem is that your bracketed comment is purely invented.
> Are you claiming that it's inaccurate?  I don't see the basis for
> that claim.

Yes, I am claiming it's inaccurate. The basis for claiming it's inaccurate
is that there's _no_ basis for it in the constitution.

The claim "We're required to do our Debian work wearing pink tutus"
is inaccurate for the same reason. I'm not sure how you'd prove that,
except to say "There's no basis for that claim in the constitution" --
the onus of proof is on whoever's claiming that there is such a rule
(which they should do by demonstrating the basis).

> > Having folks not read it at all,
> > or choose to follow some different rules, otoh, isn't forbidden at all.
> Not reading it at all is dealt with by NM.
> Following different rules is obviously ok.
> Following different rules which conflict is not at all obviously ok.

Well, you'd think so, but people evidently disagree. How we follow the
social contract isn't spelt out at all; that we follow it at all isn't
even spelt out.

Let's put it differently. I think most people in the US would happily
agree that the Bible has been very important to the US historically and
it's very important to many today. They could decide that "the Bible
is critical to America's mission and purpose" -- on the presumption,
perhaps, that its the basis for the morality of a large chunk of the
population -- and declare it a "Foundational Document". Maybe throw in
the Koran or The Art of War too for a bit of variety.

Declaring the Bible to be "critical to America's purpose" is a different
statement to saying "you must follow the commandments of the Bible to
the letter", though. Folks who consider the Bible crucially important
can still interpret some passages non-literally, ignore other passages
entirely, or consider some of the passages more as "guidelines" or
"suggestions" than strict rules.

I can't see anything that requires us to treat the social contract with
the literalness I'd been presuming; so maybe the project wants to decide
to take it non-literally. If so, there's no need for any 3:1 resolutions,
or any reinterpretation of the social contract -- we can just choose to
ignore the bits of it we don't like.

> > > In what way has it "not been made under the constitution"?
> > There's no specification of what we'll actually do with the social
> > contract.
> Except that we're not supposed to work against it.

No, we're not meant to work against the specifications that are there.

> > > It's explicitly mentioned in the constitution -- how much more "under"
> > > can you get?
> > Easy: the constitution could say "The guidelines in the social contract
> > will direct our activities at all times." Or it could say "Our activities
> > will at all times comply with the social contract." Or it could say
> > "We will use the social contract as a guide in deciding what activities
> > to pursue."
> None of this means that the social contract isn't currently in the set of
> "decisions properly made under the rules of the constitution".

Well, you can't prove a negative in that sense, so if that's what you're
demanding, you won't ever be satisfied.

But consider it this way: each one of the above, if written into the
constitution explicitly, would result in different ways of looking at
the social contract. Some would be stricter than others. Some mightn't
be that much different from not having a social contract at all. Which
one does the constitution imply? Why doesn't it imply the others?

> > Other folks appear to have: Manoj has indicated that a simple position
> > statement won't suffice [0], assuming that mail wasn't being deliberately
> > misleading by not applying to the current situation.
> That makes sense to me -- a position statement which appears to
> conflict with an obvious interpretation of the social contract
> and which avoids talking about social contract issues at all
> doesn't seem to be well formed.

Really? On what basis do you think that? I can't see anything in the
constitution that forbids such a resolution, which means it'd be a valid
decision, which means working against it isn't allowed...

> > Others have indicated
> > [1] they think a position statement that passes with 3:1 majority would be
> > okay, though it's not clear exactly why that would be okay.
> Probably because the constitution says that supersession of foundation
> documents is possible with a 3:1 majority.

People can think all sorts of things, but they're not necessarily right.
Ignoring a clause in a document doesn't mean replacing that document.

> > > I just haven't
> > > seen any such arguments, yet, that I'm comfortable advocating.
> > *shrug* If you're going to make an informed decision it's important to
> > consider all the possibilities; if no one else is advocating the issues,
> > then that means you've got to come up with the pro arguments yourself as
> > well as the rebuttals, and well, it's either that or make an uninformed
> > decision.
> At least for all the significant possibilities, yes.
> [There's usually an infinity of possibilities, and we usually discuss
> categories of possibilities.]

*shrug* Whole classes of possibilities can be ruled out by a single
argument, so that's not a big problem. 

"I'm thinking of a number. It's even. It's prime. It's positive. What
is it?"

There's an infinity of numbers, but given the data, it's easy to rule
all but one of them out. Ignoring all the considerations -- stopping at
`It's even' say -- and making your decision based on that will increase
your odds of getting a worse answer.

In this particular case, there are example solutions "Let's have a GR that
changes the SC to allow non-programs to be non-free, and set the release
policy to be that", or "Let's just set the release policy", or "Let's
change the SC to be what it used to be, and leave the release policy",
or "Let's change the SC back, but change it back to what it is now again
later" or a host of other things. Working out whether you want to set the
release policy in a GR (and then have it only be able to be overriden by
a future GR?) will cut out a whole set of them at once. As will working
out whether changing the SC back is a good idea or not. As will working
out how strictly the SC has to be obeyed (not very? then it's no so urgent
to change the SC. very? then we'd better make it clear what the SC means and
what it doesn't).

> > > In particular, I don't see that disregarding the social contract entirely
> > > is the right way to go.
> > It might well not be; as far as I know no one's suggested it. But
> > deciding that it's not the right way to go because other options have
> > better outcomes is surely a better path than choosing not to think about
> > the option, though; [...]
> Hmm... this sounds sensible, but I'm having trouble grappling with
> what it really means.

What other options are there, other than ignoring the SC?
How do these options make it harder to build a good OS?
How do these options make it easier to build a good OS?
Which of these difficulties are least cumbersome? 
Which of these benefits are most useful?
Which of these options is therefore the best for Debian to adopt?
(Should that option be adopted project wide, or should maintainers be able
to adopt different options? Is there a minimum that should be adopted?)

At the moment, you're apparently assuming, with no basis that I can see,
that there's precisely one way of dealing with the SC that's allowed at
present, and that doing otherwise would require a 3:1 vote of some sort.
It's not clear to me which way that is, though. And I haven't noticed any
substantial discussion of why one alternative should be preferred over
the other: just folks declaring that the alternative they've adopted is
the only plausible one for one reason or another, and proposing a scheme
they think would work based on that.


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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