Re: A question for all the candidates.

Martin Sevior <msevior mccubbin ph unimelb edu au> writes:

> Dear Candidates,
> 	        One of the duties of the Gnome Foundation is to provide
> "Direction" for the project. In a Free Software environment like Gnome it
> is not immediately obvious how this will be achieved. I can imagine
> several ways in which direction can be provided in terms of strength and
> nastiness. Here are some of them:


Well, maybe I'm not "the nice guy" here, but I try to answer these questions
independent of the fact that I'm candidating for the board, ie. I don't call
this a political statement; it's just the way I'd solve these problems if I
was elected.

> 1." This project is wasting resources. It will be removed from Gnome CVS."

Basically this the decision of whoever hosts the Gnome CVS. However, since
the Gnome CVS belongs the whole GNOME community it's probably up to the board
as official representation of the GNOME community to decide this.

We should try to always handle this in a way which is the best for the whole
GNOME community and we should also restrict such decisions to the absolute

If I was elected, I would not ask any project to be removed from the Gnome CVS
unless there is a very good reason to do so and also not without talking to
the maintainers of this module. The board will more or less have the power
to forcibly remove a project from Gnome CVS, but it is extremely unfair for
everyone who's working on that project to do so.

We also need to distinguish here whether a project is "wasting resources" or
"abusing the Gnome CVS". In my oppinion, a project can never be removed from
the Gnome CVS without the maintainer's approval unless the latter one is true.

For instance, I'd call it abuse if someone

* imported the Linux kernel source code, the Mozilla source code or some other
  very large software project which has nothing to do with GNOME into Gnome CVS
  without asking.

* does something which does extreme harm to the Free Software community (for
  instance forking a GNU project and importing the forked source).

* does something which is against the spririt of Free Software (for instance
  I won't tolerate a project with a non-free license in Gnome CVS).

The board is the legal and official representation of the whole GNOME community
and in those extreme cases we need to behave as such and act in place of the

However, as a first step in such a dispute we always need to talk with the
maintainer(s) of the project first and try to find a solution.

And if a project is only "wasting resources" (I can only imagine such a
situation if a project has nothing at all to do with GNOME) the only thing
we can do is to ask the maintainers whether they want to host it somewhere
else, but we must not force them in any way. Doing so would be extremely
unfair and it'd also give all potential GNOME contributors the feeling that
they must fear to be removed.

> 2. "This project is wasting resources, we recommend that no distribution
> (especially Helix-Code) include it in their release". 

The board has no authority over what distribution vendors should or should not
include in their distributions. So we can only recommend this to distributions,
but not force them in any way to do so.

However, I don't think a project can ever "waste resources" if it is a free
software - all it can do is to be "unstable" or "against the community".

In the first case: every project, no matter how polished it is, was unstable
before it became mature and every unstable project may become stable and
become a valuable part of GNOME.

It'd be extremely unfair from us to say that a project is "wasting resources"
and it'd also be stupid to do since we'd piss off all future contributors of
GNOME with this.

So the only decision which needs to be made here is whether a project is
"stable" and "official part of GNOME", but it's up to the distribution vendors
whether they want to include it in their distribution.

However, if a project is "against the community" (non-free license, unfairly
forked an existing project) we may decide that it should not be called part
of GNOME and ask distribution vendors not to label it as "GNOME", but this is
the only situation in which I could imagine this.

> 3. "Project X and project Y have the same goals. Have you guys considered
> a merger"? 

The is the sole decision of the maintainers of X and Y and the board must
keep itself out of this. All we can do is to ask the maintainers of X and Y
to talk with each other about this and to make a decision, but it's up to
them to make that decision.

> 4. "We really think project Y should be supported. Gnomers please hack on 
> it." 

[my bus is going in a few minutes, so I'll answer the last four questions
 tomorrow; have a nice evening, guys .....]

Martin Baulig
martin gnome org (private)
baulig suse de (work)

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