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Re: GNU - Principles and Guidelines (was: Re: A GNU “social contract”?)

From: Mark Wielaard
Subject: Re: GNU - Principles and Guidelines (was: Re: A GNU “social contract”?)
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2019 12:49:03 +0100

Hi Andreas,

On Mon, 2019-12-30 at 22:25 +0100, Andreas R. wrote:
> This writing, "GNU - Principles and Guidelines", is based on Andreas
> Elke's preliminary version 
> (draft posted on 1 Nov 2019) of a general and concise document that
> states some guidelines ("GNU Social Contract") 
> which came with a request for feedback. 

The latest version of the GNU Social Contract can be found here:
There were some minor wording suggestions since on the list.

> In response to that request, earlier on-list feedback, and expressed
> support for having a couple of 
> succinct documents that describe the structure and mission of the GNU
> project, I composed a version 
> based on Andreas Elke's draft that attempts to address some of the
> problems that were raised.

Thanks. But I think your version mixes why, what and how a little.
The social contract says what users and the free software community can
expect from the GNU project, but doesn't prescribe how GNU volunteers
working on it do it, or how the project is structured precisely. It
looks like your document and the social contract could be separate
documents because they don't really conflict. That might make it more
clear what you are precisely proposing.

> This amended version:
> - is closer to the situation as it currently exists and as such
> should need no additional agreement 
> or undersigning of existing maintainers since it should describe the
> status quo.

Maybe you could state what in the GNU Social Contract doesn't describe
the status quo?

> - retains the position of trust and authority of the FSF instead of
> placing it with the GNU 
> maintainers (thereby working around the hitherto unaddressed  problem
> that GNU maintainers--outside of
> adhering the the licensing of their package--need to have no affinity
> or even an interest in Free Software).

It would indeed be good if we worked with the FSF to ratify the GNU
Social Contract and make sure it doesn't clash with their mission. But
given the FSF has several other programs it runs, I think it is better
if it is self contained. I don't see it as a problem that GNU
maintainers outside their GNU work might not fully adhere to the social
contract as long as we can trust each other to do when we are working
together on the GNU project itself.

> - guarantees GNU maintainers can continue to work on the project as a
> loosely associated group of hackers 
> if they so desire even though a more regimented approach can be
> implemented within each seperate component
> or package.

The GNU Social Contract doesn't mention Maintainers, or any other
volunteer role. Could you say which parts of the GNU Social Contract
would block hackers working together on the GNU project in a loose or
rigid fashion?

> Comments and questions are, of course, more than welcome.



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