|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [Hangout - NYLXS] Fwd: Re: GNU - Principles and Guidelines
> > * The GNU Project and the free software community
> > The GNU project stakeholders are all users of the GNU system as represented by the FSF. As such, an
> > FSF-sponsored maintainer for the GNU system as a whole (the Chief GNUisance) will ensure the GNU Project
> > adheres to FSF guidelines pertaining to the GNU project in particular and software freedom in general.
> Two comments:
> • Users of GNU matter, but they are not, to me, “stakeholders” in the
> same sense as people who dedicate much of their time building GNU
> (webmasters, sysadmins, developers, maintainers, etc.).
> We envisioned the social contract as a connection among all these
> stakeholders and as a pledge to people outside the project,
> including users.
I would argue users of GNU are not "stakeholders" *to the same degree*
as people who
dedicate their time building GNU, but certainly "in the same sense". GNU
is not simply a product
where consumers would have no say in a company's products other than not
During the early drafts there was some discussion about the definition
of "stakeholder" but
it proved difficult to establish without being too exclusive and the
matter was dropped.
Fortunately another thread called "What is a software stakeholder" was
recently created to address the problem directly.
DJ Delorie quoted a wikipedia page about project management which had
the quote "Think broadly about stakeholders. This is good project
If any project should think broadly about stakeholders, it should be
GNU, because its goal is not strictly a technical feat.
Those who deploy GNU, or advocate GNU, or even simply run GNU have a
direct stake in the project, because GNU is not just a product. If the
social contract is about fairness in governance, everybody stakeholder
should be represented to a degree.
Finding a precise and generally acceptable definition of "stakeholder"
might be one of the things that
is holding back adoption and acceptance of this document.
As far as I'm concerned, rms has always represented me in the GNU
project. He is the one I could contact
directly with any concerns or questions.
After he stepped down from the FSF, he told me to trust the FSF. Having
known of Alexandre Oliva's track record for a long time, this was not
hard to accept.
If someone wants to restructure GNU governance and abolish the role of
the Chief GNUisance and
cut out the FSF, something needs to replace that implicit chain of trust.
No design of new governance so far has addressed the implicit chain of
trust to any satisfaction, and those in favour of
restructuring have given me no reason to trust them, but even if they
had, there's no oversight
that guarantees the new governance structures wouldn't be corrupted from
the inside over time. And given the scope of the GNU project, "over
time" isn't measured in quarterly goals, but centuries,
if not millenia; it is, or should be, part of the future of our species.
It's fair to discuss governance of the GNU project in a post-rms era.
It's not fair to say "Trust us, we
know what we're doing. We're the good guys."
Having to trust rms is a historical necessity and a fluke. We're lucky
it turned out okay-ish. I agree relying
on flukes is not a solid plan for the future, but any replacement plans
should address all aspects
of what he represents.
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