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Re: Documenting FSF copyright assignment process

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: Documenting FSF copyright assignment process
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2019 16:51:43 +0300

> Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2019 02:33:21 +0300
> From: Konstantin Kharlamov <address@hidden>
> Cc: Richard Stallman <address@hidden>
> I recently went through the signing procedure, and one thing I didn't 
> like which can be improved: the specific steps up to sending a mail to 
> address@hidden are not documented. In my case I had to send a private 
> mail to Eli asking for the assignment form, he sent it back to me along 
> with further instructions; then I filled the form and sent it to 
> address@hidden
> This is a roundtrip that takes time for both maintainer and a user. 

Don't worry about the maintainer's time.  It took me all of 10 sec to
respond with the form and the instructions for filling it.

> Additionally, users are not even sure if what they're doing is correct, 
> e.g. look at the last "assignment"-titled mail on this list, it starts 
> with "I'm not sure if it's the right place to ask this". Yes, neither 
> was I!

The only way I can understand this particular aspect of the issue is
by assuming that people don't read the section in the Emacs manual
where this is described, the one you quoted in your email, because
that section explicitly tells to ask on emacs-devel.

I can understand why this could happen: our user manual, being such a
large document, it is not the best place to include this information
and hope that it will be easily discoverable there.  So I've included
that information near the beginning of CONTRIBUTE, which is about the
first document potential contributors should read before sending

> It would really help if the emacs documentation about assignment¹ has 
> either α) a paragraph with the form to be sent to address@hidden and 
> according instructions, or β) if it has to be documented on another 
> site, e.g. FSF's, it would help to put a link to emacs documentation¹ 
> after the words "Copyright assignment is a simple process." (and I hope 
> that this would-be referred documentation includes α; preferrably with 
> any legal notes — if there will be any — moved somewhere at the 
> bottom).

If the FSF places the forms on some official site, and accompany them
with the necessary instructions about how to choose the correct one
(yes, there's more than one form), then I agree that we should
reference that place in our docs.  But I don't think it's right for us
to include the assignment form(s) in our docs, because we are not the
source of the document, and don't really have to understand all the
intricacies of the process, starting with how to choose the correct
form for each case.  (Gnulib does include the forms in its repository,
but I don't think this is TRT for any GNU project to do that.)

I think having the information in CONTRIBUTE will make it much more
discoverable.  As for the time it takes to ask for the form and send
it in response, I don't see that as a significant issue.

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