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Re: Documenting FSF copyright assignment process

From: Konstantin Kharlamov
Subject: Re: Documenting FSF copyright assignment process
Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2019 11:57:24 +0300

On Пт, Apr 12, 2019 at 10:00, Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden> wrote:
 Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2019 02:49:09 +0300
 From: Konstantin Kharlamov <address@hidden>
 Cc: address@hidden, address@hidden

> 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.

 Not really. The section I quoted tells to ask any questions on
 emacs-devel, but not to ask for the form/instructions in there.

I admit I don't understand this logic.  You are told to ask _anything_
about the assignment process on this list, including for how to start
the process:

     Copyright assignment is a simple process.  Residents of some
  countries can do it entirely electronically.  We can help you get
  started, and answer any questions you may have (or point you to the
  people with the answers), at the <address@hidden> mailing list.

So why would someone think that asking about the form is

The logic is: this whole page is a documentation about the assignment, it's even titled accordingly. So somewhere it should have all the gory details. But there's none.

And then there's a suggestion to ask any question on emacs-devel. Sure, absence of steps for getting assignment implies you have one; but at the same time the fact that you're reading the Emacs documentation on getting assignment implies that you shouldn't have *this specific* question, because sure it's documented here. So you reading it over and over, you look at other places, you query the internet… This makes one feel silly, and asking on emacs-devel becomes sort of last resort.

 Although GNU Emacs indeed are not the source for form, however it is
 Emacs that has the mandatory requirement for the assignment.

No, every GNU project has this requirement, not just Emacs.  GCC, GDB,
Binutils, Coreutils, Bash, Diffutils, Grep, Texinfo, Gnulib, Guile,
Wget -- you name it.  They all require an assignment.  Even submitting
translations for messages of some program requires an assignment.

 Okay, maybe it's not an issue for you, because you're used to the
 mailing list, as well as to replies to assignment form inqueries.

 But it is an issue for an arbitrary user who wants the form.

 First of: there's no requirement for a contributor to be subscribed
here, since patches go to debbugs site anyway. And a user may not know
 how to use a mailing list: does one have to subscribe? How to
 subscribe? What to do with dozens of mails from the list every day?
Nowadays you can't reasonably expect arbitrary peoples to know how MLs

 Second: a user may not be a native speaker, so composing a mail may
take time for that alone reason. You can't expect a contributor to be a
 good speaker either, because they could be e.g. just a student who
 wants to improve the app they're using as part of their paper.

Third: sending to a -devel ML means asking real developers. This may be
 an overwhelming thought, making one to try to avoid that as much as
 possible. I'm telling that from my own past experience: though right
 now I'm comfortable (I work as a developer, I contributed to many
 projects, I just got used to being around developers), but it wasn't
 always true. Just 3-4 years ago I'd be really afraid, thinking "But
 assignment form doesn't sound like a development question, am I sure
 this is correct? Won't they make laugh of me?".

Fourth: sending to an ML means there's a bunch of people, and everyone
 gonna see your mail. If you have social communication problems, for
 example sociophobia, this is a demotivational factor.

 Fifth: asking specifically for copyright assignment on ML feels like
 yelling "look everyone, I'm gonna contribute to Emacs!", whereas one
may not even be sure about usefulness of planned contributions. One may just have some thoughts for improvements, but they may not pan out for one reason or another. I think this may demotivate anyone, doubly so if
 one has social communication problems.

And don't forget that the factors can be combined! Whereas the fix is
 dead easy: just make it clear how to get the form and instructions
 without any interaction.

With the relevant information now explicitly spelled in CONTRIBUTE, I
think these issues are more-or-less solved now.

Thank you! Btw, I just looked at log for CONTRIBUTE http://git.savannah.gnu.org/cgit/emacs.git/log/CONTRIBUTE I don't seem to see anything new. Are they perhaps on review?

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