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Re: The General Public Licence (GPL) as the basic governance tool

From: Mark Wielaard
Subject: Re: The General Public Licence (GPL) as the basic governance tool
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2020 22:40:00 +0100

Hi Eli,

On Fri, 2020-02-21 at 12:09 +0200, Eli Zaretskii wrote:
> > From: Ludovic Courtès <>
> >
> > See the timeline at:
> > 
> >
> If, as that page says, the proposed "contract" is entirely voluntary,
> then what is its significance?  IOW, what would those who endorse it
> have or be entitled to that the others won't?  And why are you going
> to such lengths trying to advance and promote a document which is not
> mandatory for endorsement by GNU developers and maintainers?  Those
> promotion efforts imply that the document is somehow very central to
> your ideas of governance and the call for changes in the GNU
> leadership, whereas dismissing its importance by saying the
> endorsement is entirely optional seems to fly in the face of those
> efforts.  This apparent contradiction needs to be clarified, IMO,
> because its existence makes your intention unclear and even somewhat
> mysterious.

These are good questions and my apologies we didn't make this more
clear. The GNU Social Contract is important because it defines what the
GNU project stands for. It is a mission statement. The core ideas that
we all believe in. It doesn't prescribe any policies, but is worded so
that it isn't in conflict with any of the current policies of the GNU
project. To work on the GNU project you do not need to endorse it. But
those who do are promising to uphold its values while working on GNU.
It isn't directly related to governance issues. But discussing
governance issues (or any policy issues) will be easier if we at least
have a set of core principles we all value. Promoting those values is
what is important.

> More generally, I don't think that page answers Dmitry's concerns.
> The disputes we witness here and elsewhere about your initiative
> involve much more than just that single short declarative document,
> they are about several more specific ideas of yours, such as that GNU
> maintainers and developers should have more say in the GNU political
> decision-making, and that RMS should be removed from his current role
> because you think he is unfit for leading GNU and even causes harm to
> GNU.  There's nothing in your Wiki about dissent over these and other
> related ideas, AFICT.

You are right that some months ago there was discussion on this
mailinglist about some of those issues. Yes, there are GNU participants
who have strong opinions about those issues. But they are often
expressed in the negative. I don't believe there is consensus on some
of those ideas yet. And it was probably a mistake to start with those
(my mistake, because I started that discussion). Without first having a
clear definition of what GNU is and what the core values of the GNU
project are that we all agree on, it is unproductive to tackle more
controversial topics. That is why the GNU Social Contract is so narrow,
focused and concentrates on the positives.



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