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

From: Ludovic Courtès
Subject: Re: The General Public Licence (GPL) as the basic governance tool
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2020 22:04:36 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.3 (gnu/linux)

Hello Eli,

Eli Zaretskii <> skribis:

> 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?

Quoth RMS¹:

  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.

The GNU Social Contract is about changing that. 


> The fact is that those same people who wrote the document

The document was drafted on this list, with a call for an additional
feedback period.  You could have been one of those people, and you can
become one for a future version.  The goal has always been to have as
many maintainers as possible on board.

> 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
> another.

That some of us want to change the governance of GNU is not a mystery.
Our first message to maintainers¹ and the endorsement page² read:

  Additionally, we think it can be a first step towards formalizing a
  transparent and collective governance of the GNU Project.

Maintainers who’ve been following gnu-prog-discuss over the last decade
are even less surprised, I’m sure.

We can discuss the pros and cons of different governance models, but
let’s not pretend there’s an ongoing conspiracy.

Now, I do think there is value in having maintainers endorse the Social
Contract, regardless of the governance model one is aiming for: it can
improve cohesion and allow for more delegation of responsibilities.



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