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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: Mon, 24 Feb 2020 19:16:58 +0200

> From: Ludovic Courtès <>
> Cc:,
> Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2020 22:34:32 +0100
> > That's just the tip of a very large iceberg.  I know it, you know it,
> > and every GNU maintainer knows it.  When we get appointed, we receive
> > a 1000-word message from RMS with some quite non-trivial instructions,
> > including, but not limited to, a pointer to maintain.texi as the place
> > to find specific policies and guidelines that are mandatory to follow.
> > That is what I alluded to when I said "maintaining a GNU project
> > according to the guidelines".  I don't know how things are on your
> > plate, but for me following those guidelines takes most of my free
> > time, and requires some non-trivial efforts.
> Of course, but these are mostly technicalities.  Richard’s point here is
> that we’re expected to do nothing beyond following those policies, and
> even the guidelines can be sidestepped.

Those "technicalities" and policies is what makes the GNU Project what
it is: a Free OS advanced by a Free Software movement.  Without those
"technicalities", there would be nothing to make us different from any
other "open-source" project.

> >> The GNU Social Contract is about changing that. 
> >
> > How can you change that if the document is voluntary?
> Endorsers will know what to expect from each other and people who work
> with them will have a clearer picture, too.

Expect from them and have a clearer picture in what areas?  Are we
talking about developing GNU software, or are we talking about
something else?

IOW, are you trying to make the GNU Project change its goals to
include more than just developing a Free OS?  And if you do, then what
are those additional goals which you would ideally want GNU to pursue?

> Over the last decade I have, again, not been silent about a desire to
> work towards a collectively-run GNU.  But I’ve also done a lot for GNU
> in that time, and I don’t think it’s useful to view every single action
> of mine as “part of that campaign”.

I was only talking about that single action, not about everything you
did and continue doing as part of developing and maintaining GNU

> If you and I both state our commitment to upholding that set of values,
> then we have something in common that we can build on.  We know we’re on
> the same page.
> A project like GNU is the people who make it.  If the ties among those
> people are stronger, the whole project benefits.  The Social Contract
> can be one of these things that allows us to emphasize what we share.

I think being involved in the same GNU software project is already
evidence that we have a lot in common, and goes a long way towards
making our ties quite strong.  I don't see how a declarative document
can do anything to make that any stronger.  Especially since not
everyone will endorse it.  I hope it doesn't mean you will talk kinder
to those who did, or treat them more favorably in any other sense.

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