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Re: RFC: General resolution: Clarify the status of the social contract

Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> writes:

>         I think we will keep coming back to this biennial spate of
>  disagreement we have, as we determine whether or not we can release
>  with firmware blobs or what have you. This also would help developers,
>  the ftp-masters, and the release team with a clear cut expression of
>  the projects goals and clarifies how the project has decided to view
>  the social contract.
>         Given that, I suggest we have a series of proposals and
>  amendments, each in a separate email, sponsored and seconded
>  independently, that could look something like this below:

I think these have the same flaw as our current situation: none of them
state who interprets the Social Contract and the DSFG if there is a
dispute over what they mean.  We know there will be such disputes.  Just
saying that they're binding (or not binding) doesn't resolve those

Witness the arguments that led up to the "editorial changes" GR, for
example.  I'm quite certain that we've not resolved all ambiguity for all
future issues.

If we're going to have a vote on this topic, I feel quite strongly that
every option which states the social contract is binding should include in
it a constitutional amendment specifying *who* decides for the project
what those documents mean and what the procedure is to override that
decision (can't be overridden, requires a 3:1 majority to override, etc.).

Some possible options for that body:

* The DPL (advantage: most directly representative governance figure)

* The Secretary (advantage: not directly representative and hence somewhat
  akin to a Supreme Court judge in the US legal system, able to make
  independent decisions without being beholden to an electorate)

* Each individual developer when doing their own work (advantage: what we
  have now, according to my reading, but gives rise to lots of debate when
  those scopes overlap, such as when a GR is proposed and the secretary
  has to prepare the ballot)

* The Technical Committee (probably not the right body, but has the
  advantage of having override machinery already built into the

* Some new body (probably a really bad idea, but included for completeness)

Otherwise, even if we say the social contract is binding, it doesn't
resolve the current problem or future problems like it.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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