Overriding vs Amending vs 'Position statement' [Was: Re: Constitutional issues in the wake of Lenny]
On Sat, Mar 14, 2009 at 12:03:08PM +0000, Matthew Johnson wrote:
> As Luk says, tackling these one at a time is probably best. So, first up
> is (bullets numbered so that I can refer to them):
> On Mon Mar 02 00:23, Matthew Johnson wrote:
> > Overriding vs Amending vs 'Position statement'
> > When a GR has an option which contradicts one of the foundation documents, but
> > doesn't explicitly amend it; does this count as amending it? If it does not,
> > then how is this reconciled with the fact that we have just agreed to do
> > something which would contravene our own foundation documents?
> > Positions (in no particular order):
> > 1 The supermajority is rubbish and we should drop it entirely, so it doesn't
> > matter what the difference is.
> > 2 Anything which overrides a FD implicitly modifies it to contain that
> > specific exception, even if it's not specified in the GR, so always needs
> > 3:1.
> > 3 Actually, the Social Contract isn't binding per-se, individual delegates/
> > developers are aiming for it as a goal, but can interpret it as they see
> > fit.
> > 4 The DFSG doesn't automatically trump our users, we'll cope with DFSG
> > issues if it's needed for things to work.
> > 5 Single exceptions don't require supermajority, but permanent changes do
> Currently it seems that people think we are either in option 2 or option
> 5, but I've heard views for the others. The goal of this discussion is
> to amend the constitution to make it clear which option we want.
> If we drop the super-majority completely (1) this renders options 2, 4,
> and 5 moot. Option 3 renders everything moot.
> I think we are (and should be) in 2, but please, please give me your
As secretary, it's now basicly up to me to decide that. The
constituion has this to say about it:
The Project Secretary should make decisions which are fair and
reasonable, and preferably consistent with the consensus of the
And if there is no consensus, I will have to decide for myself. I
prefer a clear consensus on this, and I think the only way to get
that by changing the constitution.
What this is about is how to interprete 4.1.5 of the constitution
5. Issue, supersede and withdraw nontechnical policy documents and
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.
1. A Foundation Document is a document or statement regarded as
critical to the Project's mission and purposes.
2. The Foundation Documents are the works entitled "Debian Social
Contract" and "Debian Free Software Guidelines".
3. A Foundation Document requires a 3:1 majority for its
supersession. New Foundation Documents are issued and existing
ones withdrawn by amending the list of Foundation Documents in
I'm currently inclined to interprete it so that anything that
seems to modify an interpretation will require an explicit change
in some document. But I'm not sure it's in my power to refuse
an option that doesn't do so. So that would be option 2 above.