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Re: Representation of the Emacs userbase on emacs-devel

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: Representation of the Emacs userbase on emacs-devel
Date: Sat, 04 Sep 2021 23:39:49 -0400

[[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider    ]]]
[[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,     ]]]
[[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]

If we want to find out what aspects of a change Emacs users would like
or dislike, we should ask more of them.  We had a discussion last year
about how to do such an investigation, based on how we used to do it,
with improvements.

Would someone like to write draft inquiry questions for the question
at hand?

Here's the method I propose for inquiries (we used to call them "polls")
about users' views about possible changes in well-known behaviors.

* Make a file for the replies to go into.

* Make a mailing address which drops all mail into the file.

* Write a inquiry statement which describes the proposed change in
sufficient detail that people can judge it, what kind of information
we seek, and where to email the response.  Include a deadline for
replies at least 6 weeks in the future.

If possible, we should tell users how to select various behaviors, so
that they can state their opinions based on comparing actual

End the inquiry statement with the following text.

    We do not seek "votes", but rather understanding.  If you are for
    the change, please explain why.  Would it help you directly?  If
    so, in what scenarios?  How often, and how strongly, would it
    benefit you?  What would the benefit be?

    Or is it that you think it will improve Emacs, or speed Emacs
    development, by helping other users?  How so?

    Please distinguish between what you know and what you predict.

    Likewise, if you are against the change, please explain why.
    Would it inconvenience you directly?  If so, in what scenarios?
    How often, and how strongly, would it inconvenience you?  What
    would the inconvenience be?

    Or is it that you think it will harm Emacs or Emacs development by
    inconveniencing others?  How so?

    We invite you also to propose alterations in the proposed change that
    you think would improve it -- saying in what scenario that would be an
    improvement, and how so, etc.

    Please post the URL of this page in forums where it is appropriate,
    and resend it to Emacs users and mailing lists where you know people
    will be glad to receive it.

It is crucial to urge people repeatedly to explain their positions
because people tend to skip that crucial part.

* Put the inquiry statement in a web page under gnu.org/software/emacs.

* Mail the inquiry statement info-gnu-emacs, help-gnu-emacs and
emacs-tangents, with the URL of the web page _and_ the full text
of the inquiry statement.

Also post a note referring to the web page on reddit.com/r/emacs, and
any other suitable places.  Mail the URL to Sacha Chua

* Wait until at least two weeks after the deadline, then study and
record the responses.  Note down all interesting comments, since they
are the most important information in the responses.

* Do count how many people support each position that people support,
but it would be a mistake to make the actual decision based simply on
counting.  A given change can affect one user very often, and affect
another user only rarely, but they could both state a "strong

* We are not compelled to choose between "make that change" and "no
change".  The best outcome of the inquiry is that the responses show
us how to design a way to please almost all users, almost all the
time, and not displease any user very much.

Dr Richard Stallman (https://stallman.org)
Chief GNUisance of the GNU Project (https://gnu.org)
Founder, Free Software Foundation (https://fsf.org)
Internet Hall-of-Famer (https://internethalloffame.org)

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