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

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: The General Public Licence (GPL) as the basic governance tool
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2020 10:17:54 +0200

> From: Mark Wielaard <>
> Cc:
> Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2020 22:40:00 +0100
> 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.

I don't understand the practical implications of the last sentence.
What does it mean in practice "to uphold the values while working on
GNU", and how might that differ from what we the maintainers do today
while working on GNU, for a maintainer who doesn't necessarily endorse
the document?

I always thought that maintaining a GNU project according to the
guidelines I was communicated when I was appointed _is_ upholding GNU
values, that it's all there is in upholding them, as applied to my job
as the maintainer.  But you seem to be saying there's something else
there?  What is that?

> 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.

How will governance be easier if some of the governed don't endorse
some of the principles in the document?

> > 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.

That the dissenting opinions are expressed in the negative doesn't
mean they are invalid or should be dismissed.  Surely, there's a way
of describing those opinions in civilized ways so they are worthy to
be mentioned as serious objections.  Moreover, some of the dissenting
opinions were indeed expressed in such civilized form, so the label
"negative" is not really appropriate to them.

> I don't believe there is consensus on some of those ideas yet.

The lack of the consensus is precisely why they should be mentioned
there, including the fact that there's no consensus as of yet.

> 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.

The fact is that those same people who wrote the document and promote
it are those who are promoting the ideas of changing the leadership
and the governance model.  You cannot work around of that.  It is IMO
better to present these issues honestly and a objectively as possible
than to try to sweep them under the carpet.  It might make the
discussions more open and the sides more trustworthy towards one

IOW, focusing on the positive sides is, at least IME, not a good
strategy when dealing with such divisive topics.

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