Avoiding Problems by Avoiding Decisions

Adriaan de Groot adridg at cs.kun.nl
Fri May 14 08:09:27 BST 2004

Hash: SHA1

First off, I realize that this thread has already gone on far too long for a 
recap to bring things to order; after all the arguments, we've lost track of 
what we're arguing about. I'm going to try to paraphrase what George's 
original question was:

(1)	"What is the policy of the KDE team in deciding on the list of
	locales (and their English names)?"

a secondary question is

(2)	"What is the policy of the KDE team in deciding on the names
	of locales in languages other than English?"

George's repeated statements that he doesn't care are directed towards the 
concrete policy we have: he doesn't care what the policy says exactly, as 
long as it says _something_ exactly, and it's documented. Others in this 
thread have requested the policy document as well. So far, noone has come 
forward with anything better than "we let folks name themselves". This is 
unsatisfying because it's vague and has no provision for resolving conflicts. 
And as George has pointed out several times, he doesn't care to do the 
conflict resolving either.

In the thread on -doc, it seems that some folks have taken George's ethnic 
background - he's from Toronto, after all - to indicate that he wants a 
resolution in KDE in favor of M or M'. I find this highly distasteful, since 
his repeated question is "what is the policy to decide whether we should use 
M or M'?".

Yes, I know that since the days of Neil, the word "policy" has a negative 
connotation. In the past, we've been fairly good at sticking our heads in the 
sand (a common ornithological misconception) and letting the stink blow over; 
it conserves the energies of the people who do the real work, sure. In one 
sense, at least, since you can't close the bug or stop the discussion with 
Status: Closed Resolution: FOAD. In the worst case, ping-pong commits by 
members of F and H to change the name will be resolved by taking away their 
commit bits, leaving the name set randomly by whomever got in the last 
commit. That is not a policy that suggests it will reduce the amount of 
argument in future.

On Friday 14 May 2004 07:14, Andreas Pour wrote:
> After all, the point of the locale is not to give lessons in World
> Government, but to let people find the language they want to use for their
> desktop.  And, e.g., in the case of the disputed country, it is the
> "Macedonians" and not the Hellenics who need to find their language.

The reason we need a clear policy in (1) is that there is a group of people H 
in one country that denies - almost to the point of war, IIRC - a group of 
people in another country F the use of a particular name M. According to the 
UN, we should use a name M' until this issue is sorted out (that's why it's 
an interim resolution, thanks Dwayne). Now, using name M offends (some) folks 
in H. Using name M' offends (some) folks in F.

Please note: all names M and M' in the previous paragraph are the English 
names of country F. Let's leave translations out of it until we get to 
question (2).

> I think relying on the recognized government is an adequate step.  Now
> there are cases where there is no recognized government (like Tibet), and
> that makes things more difficult . . . but as a general rule, using the
> name of the country advocated by the recognized government is IMHO the best
> policy.

The problem with recognized government is that even the recognized government 
of H says that the name of F in English is M'. Now, we could formulate a 
policy as follows:

	"The inhabitants of a country decide the name of their country as it
	will appear in English. The sole representative of the inhabitants of the
	country shall be its recognized government."

See, if you _state_ the policy somewhere, you can point to it later in order 
to resolve disputes by saying "that's the policy, sorry." A hideous 
bureaucratic end to a discussion, sure - but an end. The policy could also be

	"The proposed names of the country shall be written on pieces of A4 paper,
	equal amounts of each proposed name (1 proposal per sheet). For two
	proposals, 50 sheets of proposal 1 and 50 sheets of proposal 2 should do.
	These are taped together and put in a room. A chicken is released into the
	room and the first proposal it shits on is accepted. A video shall be made
	of the event for documentary purposes. In cases where the first shit
	covers more than one distinct sheet, the process shall be repeated with
	fresh sheets and a fresh chicken."

That's _also_ a policy. Right now, _anything_ is better than having to say "we 
don't know why the name is like this, it just kinda happened that way."

Locales are fluid; wars get fought over them (how long do we have the Eritrean 
locale now?). That means arguments. And as George says, it'd be nice to have 
a policy to shut down the arguments by referring to the policy instead of 
trying to argument the merits of each case individually.

Since creating a fair and acceptable policy ex nihilo on our own is probably 
difficult - viz. the notion of recognized government - the suggestion to 
defer to the UN isn't all  that bad. The politicing happens _there_, then, 
instead of in Bugzilla. Can we at least agree that these arguments don't 
belong there (in b.k.o)?

- -- 
   "On top of that [watching KDE CVS] is interesting in a perverse 
    way, like watching sausage get made. By very smart people." - dkite
Version: GnuPG v1.2.4 (FreeBSD)


More information about the kde-core-devel mailing list