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Re: Amendment to GR on GFDL, and the changes to the Social Contract



On Thursday 09 February 2006 18:28, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
> Christopher Martin <chrsmrtn@debian.org> writes:
> > But what you are saying is that the developers don't have that
> > right.
>
> Quite wrong.  I'm saying they *do* have this right, and it is a right
> that must be exercised by a 3:1 vote.

But why does the Secretary get to decide whether this barrier should be set 
or not? You can't say "the developers have the right to interpret the DFSG, 
not the Secretary; the Secretary only gets to arbitrarily decide to make 
the passage of some amendments far more difficult than for others because 
of his or her own contrary interpretation of the DFSG, at his or her 
personal whim." That's obviously ludicrous.

> > Please cite the part of the constitution which grants the Secretary
> > this extraordinary power. Despite what Raul Miller repeatedly asserts,
> > a minor power to decide issues of constitutional interpretation in
> > cases of deadlock DOES NOT mean that they have the power to interpret
> > the DFSG, since the DFSG is not the constitution.
>
> I see nothing about section 7.1 which limits it to "a minor power...in
> cases of deadlock."  What it says is "adjudicates any disputes about
> interpretation of the constitution."

DFSG != constitution

Besides, that bit of the constitution seems designed to provide an "out" for 
the Project in case some matter of procedure is challenged by some other 
delegate. Are you seriously asserting that that little clause gives the 
Secretary the right to de facto interpret, or at least heavily restrain the 
useful range of interpretation of, the DFSG?

> > Indeed, section 4.1 states that the developers, by way of GRs or
> > elections, have the power to "issue, supersede and withdraw
> > nontechnical policy documents and statements. These include documents
> > describing the goals of the project, its relationship with other free
> > software entities, and nontechnical policies such as the free software
> > licence terms that Debian software must meet. They may also include
> > position statements about issues of the day." The GFDL sounds like an
> > "issue of the day" to me.
>
> Right.
>
> So, the question is, does the amendment in question supercede the
> DFSG?  If it does, then it requires a 3:1 vote.  If it doesn't, then
> it doesn't.  It seems a perfectly plausible interpretation of the
> Constitution to say that a resolution which is inconsistent with a
> Foundation Document is one which would supercede that document.

Of course. For the twenty millionth time, no one is denying that 3:1 _ought_ 
to be required when a resolution is put forth which 
contradicts/overrides/supercedes/modifies/whatever a foundation document. 
The real issue, which you keep refusing to address, is who gets to decide 
what is or is not a contradiction/etc. rather than a 
clarification/interpretation of a foundation document?

> Would a GR that said "Pine hereby passes the DFSG" be ok?  How about
> one that said "Even though the DFSG and the SC say otherwise, pine may
> be added to the main Debian archive."?  Neither of those explicitly
> revokes or amends anything, but I think we can agree that they would
> require a 3:1 vote.  And removing the "Even though the DSG and the SC
> say otherwise" cannot possibly affect the matter.

Yes, I would agree with you that such amendments _should_ have to meet the 
3:1 requirement to pass. But I refuse to grant the Secretary the power to 
decide this. If a vote is proposed without it, and it gets the requisite 
seconds, etc. then it should be voted upon without it. If a majority of 
developers are really so dumb as to vote for such silly things, then there 
is no hope for the Project anyway, and not you, nor the Secretary, will be 
able to save it. This isn't perfect, I'll admit, but there is no more 
correct, more legitimate way to settle issues of interpretation than by 
majority vote, under the current constitution.

I'd rather risk a waste-of-time vote or two than a maverick Secretary with 
extreme, outrageously bizarre views on the DFSG who doesn't refrain from 
imposing them and makes a mess (despite my disagreements with Manoj, I'm 
not at all suggesting that he's this bad; I'm speaking hypothetically). 
Unless someone wants to propose a new "Foundation Document Interpretation 
Board" of annually elected developers to handle such issues, majority votes 
it must be (as infrequently as possible).

> So the question is, again, whether the license is or is not
> DFSG-compliant.

No, that is NOT the question.

> And, if it is, then it requires a 3:1 vote to declare 
> it otherwise.  If it isn't, then it only requires a majority vote to
> say so.  The Secretary has no choice but to make that determination;
> he must provide a ballot which declares the correct winning
> percentage.  There just isn't any other way.

Yes, there is, even if you don't like it. It's called the constitutional 
way, which happens to be by respecting the will and common sense of the 
developers. "The Secretary has no choice" is backwards. The Secretary does 
in fact have no choice, as you say, but it is not to impose his/her own 
view of the DFSG on everyone else, but to refrain from doing so. The 
Secretary is not some Prince of Reason appointed to guard the DFSG. That is 
not in the constitution.

Christopher Martin

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