The new flag policy, discussed in January, was recently announced to fedora developers.
I do believe that accepting the proposal was a mistake and ask FESCO to please overturn the proposal as is.
The current policy is not mandated by Red Hat legal, therefore FESCO is free to overturn the earlier decision.
There certainly are reasons for mandating a flag policy, most connected to a flag being a political symbol, e.g. a Linux operating system being certified for sale in the P.R.C. might encounter problems if it chooses to show a Taiwan having a separate flag.
While this is certainly reason enough for a commercial entitity to require it's shipped software to be modified to appease potential customers, it is the wrong policy for fedora:
As can be seen on the newly improved fedora-devel list, many other maintainers share my opinion.
So, please reexamine said policy and throw it out. We already have upstream authors telling us that our packaging guidelines are useless, no need to bolster their arguments with really useless policies.
CC'ing spot since he proposed the original policy.
Adding some links for easy reference:
As with various other types of material, we have to make a judgement on whether to remove/ban them, or whether they're OK to be included in Fedora.
We need to compare the disadvantages of including the problematic material with the disadvantages of removing it.
For stuff like profanity, the more colourful fortune files and 'dubious' imagery (including the random image screensaver stuff), the technical downside of removing them is fairly small. So even though I personally don't like pandering to political correctness, I accept that on balance it's saner to remove them.
The same kind of decision-making process applies to flags -- we have to balance the pain of shipping them against the pain of removing them.
I voted for the policy because I believe(d) that the "pain" of removing flags is fairly much negligible. Others disagree vehemently with that position. There is a common (or at least vocal) perception that removing flags is more painful, and more technically detrimental to Fedora, than we had originally believed -- thus potentially changing the balance enough to change our decision.
The other thing to consider is whether the policy would actually fix the 'problem' it sets out to fix. The policy as stated would not ban flags outright, but would allow them to be shipped with explicit FESCo approval. If we would then end up with Fedora being undistributable in the affected countries anyway, we haven't actually gained anything and might as well have abandoned the policy. So we should perhaps give some thought to what our policy would be w.r.t. granting exceptions.
Also, do we want to postpone this until after the forthcoming FESCo elections? If people really feel strongly and there are some anti-flag-policy candidates standing for the election, that could change the outcome. It's not as if there's any rush -- we're not holding F-11 up to implement the policy, after all.
In order to facilate the decision on this topic, I re-read the rather heated discussion on fedora-devel-list and tried to summarize it.
''NB: I did try to be as neutral and as far as I can see, there are really much more reasons against the policy to be found on the mailinglist then for the mailinglist. The proponents of a flag-ban are basically concentrating on four arguments. If I should have overlooked any argument mentioned on the ML in favor of banning flags, please accept my apology.
On another note: I find the discussion culture on fedora-devel-list detestable. Straw man arguments are flying wild and ad-homminem attacks are following shortly after. But what really struck a chord were some of the retorts I read. Answering to complaints about additional work for maintainers by stating that, if a maintainer is not willing to do things properly, maybe he shouldn't be doing anything for Fedora" is not what I consider conductive to the aim of building or fostering a community.''
First, for people coming in late, some neutral background on the newly created
Reasons mentioned during the discussion on fedora-devel-list for dropping
flags from the distribution:
Reasons mentioned during the same discussion against dropping flags,
respectively against introducing such a policy at all.
The different suggestion to resolve this issue raised on the ML are as follows:
My personal recommendation to Fesco would therefore be the following:
Personally though I'd like Fesco to not enact any policy on Flags. The
conclusive arguments to me supporting this are that it is basically an
upstream problem which we should try to persuade upstream on working on
and even more importantly, the fear that we're setting a precedent which
will haunt us in the future.
Some arguments against dropping flags which came up (in fact, I posted them) and which you have missed:
* There are over a dozen affected packages (and those are just the ones I know of, I strongly suspect there are more). Even the GNOME desktop spin which was claimed flag-free includes at least a UN flag. So the argument for dropping flags that "only 4 or 5 packages are affected" is moot.
* Some upstreams (e.g. KDE) are not willing to remove flags because they consider doing so to be a political statement. (This is related to the "It's an upstream problem" and "The idea of being neutral to any side by banning all flags is absurd." arguments you already quoted.)
I haven't noticed any other arguments for dropping flags either (except the "only 4 or 5 packages are affected" one which is provably false).
Flags are not the only entity that describes a nation. The nation is the real problem, and it consists of more then just flags.
as maintainer of dnssec-conf, if Taiwan goes DNSSEC, can I not include their key?
There are other occurances of regions, countries and geographic maps that would surely be as bad as flags. Will those have to be removed too?
Let the censors to their own censoring. I do not wish to do it for them, as it does not promote my personal goal of giving people free software. Fedora is already free, it does not need to be free-er.
If I might make a suggestion to make the meeting flow smoother, it might be a good idea to have a mini agenda for the flag discussion. Something like:
FESCo voted to retract the current policy and do research as to the impact and scope of any potential new policy.
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