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Re: [address@hidden: What's GNU -- and what's not]

From: Ludovic Courtès
Subject: Re: [address@hidden: What's GNU -- and what's not]
Date: Fri, 07 Feb 2020 13:37:56 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.3 (gnu/linux)

Hello, (Alfred M. Szmidt) skribis:

> From: "Richard Stallman (Chief GNUisance)" <>
> Subject: What's GNU -- and what's not
> To:
> Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2020 18:26:51 -0500 (2 days, 11 hours, 43 minutes ago)
> The GNU Project is sending this message to each GNU package 
> maintainer.

Thank you Alfred for forwarding this message.  I suppose it was sent to
a subset of the maintainers since I didn’t receive it.

> You may have recently received an email asking you to review a
> document titled "GNU Social Contract" and then to endorse it or reject
> it.  It does not entirely accord with the GNU Project's views.  It was
> created by some GNU participants who are trying to push changes
> on the GNU Project.
> The message also proposed to "define" what it means to be a "member of
> GNU", and cited a web page presented as a "wiki for GNU maintainers",
> It may have given the impression that they were doing all those things
> on behalf of the GNU Project.  That is not the case.  The document, 
> the
> wiki, and the proposed idea of "members" have no standing in the GNU
> Project, which is not considering such steps.  The use of a domain not
> affiliated with GNU reflects this fact.
> GNU package maintainers have committed to do work to maintain and add
> to the GNU system, but not anything beyond that.  We have never
> pressed contributors to endorse the GNU Project philosophy, or any
> other philosophical views, because people are welcome to contribute to
> GNU regardless of their views.

I feel sad to see you try to shut down discussion, Richard.

Formally endorsing a core set of values can only make GNU stronger in my
view.  It’s also a necessary step to allow some of the project’s
decision-making to be delegated to maintainers—you were the one who
pointed out that maintainers do not currently agree to uphold the
project’s values, and thus cannot be trusted, and this is precisely what
the Social Contract is fixing.

I don’t see how telling people to ignore those “GNU participants who are
trying to push changes on the GNU Project” is a contribution to the
well-being of the project.


> The wiki that they set up "for GNU maintainers" represents them, not
> the GNU Project.  People are always free to publish what they think
> the GNU Project should do, but should not presume it will be accepted
> or followed by the GNU Project.

You’re bringing up a key question: what’s GNU, and what’s not?

When you mention “the GNU Project’s views” above, whose views are these?

When you write that the “wiki […] represents them”, where “them” refers
to the loosely-defined “some GNU participants”, are you implying that
“they” are not really part of GNU?  Are you forgetting that the wiki is
open to all GNU maintainers?

More importantly, what message are you sending to fellow GNU hackers who
build GNU every day, who _are_ GNU?  That they’ll never be part of the
process to decide what’s “accepted or followed by the GNU Project”?

I fail to see a vision for the future of GNU.  What you describe is far
away from the ambition of building a cohesive GNU Project, with shared
responsibilities.  Many in GNU would like to see it happen and I will
keep working for it with all the GNU hackers who want to help shape GNU.

Thank you,

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