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Re: Improving GNU ELPA

From: Etienne Prud’homme
Subject: Re: Improving GNU ELPA
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2017 15:18:24 -0400
User-agent: Emacs/25.2 (gnu/linux)

Stefan Monnier <address@hidden> writes:
> PS: BTW, to clarify my position: if it were up to me, I'd get rid of the
>     copyright assignment policy for GNU ELPA (and for Emacs as well,
>     while we're at it), but I'd keep the "locally hosted in a repository
>     to which we have write access, with commit-diffs".

For one thing we can all agree that the bureaucracy isn’t what we would
expect for free (libre) software.  Free software should be easy to
modify and contribute.

Given that the process has been criticized as been both hard to
understand and burdensome for new contributors, we need to find a
solution for newcomers to understand the reason and process of doing
such things.

I think people are right in saying that a text file and a legal paper
describing the need for copyright assignment is not sufficient.  We
really need a way to describe the process in a simple and clear
interface.  That’s what I see is most needed in either Emacs or ELPA.

So here’s my proposal:

Making a web application for describing the need and the process of the
paperwork.  I mean by that a simple 3-4 clicks process.

1. show major reasons why we ask that.

2. a menu list to choose the country the person lives in.  Depending on
   the country requirements, we would show how to make a valid copyright

  2a. if the country allow to filling an online form, show a form to
      assign copyright to the FSF.

  2b. if the country allow copyright assignment with a signature, allow
      the user to sign electronically (either using mouse or signature
      picture).  I’ve signed a Non Disclosure Agreement using my mouse
      in the past for a US company.

  2c. if the country doesn’t allow electronic signature, allow printing
      the document and explaining how to scan it (some people have no
      idea a phone can do the job).
  2d. if the country does require paper with ink, automatically generate
      the document to be printed and signed.  Also display information
      on how to post it to the copyright holder.

3. validate the information to send and that the employer would allow
   such thing.  In case the work might be done on the company’s time,
   ask a confirmation from the company (similar to step 2).

4. confirm the copyright assignment.

  4a. if no signature is needed, confirm to the user the copyright

  4b. if a signature is needed, we might need to verify it.  I know some
      countries don’t require it.

  4c. make an assignment ticket in case we need material paper.  Once we
      receive, we will notify the user.

All of those things could be done from the web browser (and also from
Emacs).  We could make a web application for that that could be used by
other projects.  A copyright assignment could be done in 5min.

That was my two cons cells.


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