agreeing a policy for maintainers and hackageDB

Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho antti-juhani at
Tue Jul 1 15:08:52 EDT 2008

(As I've asked before, please don't send me copies of list emails,
unless you have reason to believe I am not subscribed.)

On Tue, Jul 01, 2008 at 02:03:51PM -0400, Gwern Branwen wrote:
> The alternative is worse: why is it better to have three values
> ('Specifically unmaintained', 'Maintained by foo', 'not specified
> either way/omitted field')?

Arguing by question, hmm?  I think I answered that one in my original
mail, and you don't give any reason for me to reconsider.

> At least with the omitted field being significant, users can proceed
> knowing that if there is a maintainer of a package with omitted
> maintainer field, they haven't been too diligent about packaging the
> program.

Failing to check for a trivial error is indiligence?  Perhaps.  I prefer
that such trivial errors be checkable by program - and that requires
that a missing value is distinct from a null value.

> And we already have a situation where omissions are significant.
> Consider the license: field. If a license isn't specified, it must,
> legally, be AllRightsReserved. That's the law.

You are making an analogy that supports my position, not yours. 

A missing Cabal license field says "there is no information about
license here", not "all rights reserved": thus, the field distinguishes
between a missing value and a null value (indeed, if this analogy
supported your position, there would be no AllRightsReserved value!).

It is true that if the package comes with no license, then you don't
have any rights beyond what the law provides you (it does some, but it
depends on the jurisdiction).  However, there are more ways than just
the Cabal license field to specify your license.

Personally, I would regard the Cabal license field as informational only
and check the package for the actual license statement before doing
anything that requires a license.  Likewise, I would never release a
Cabal package which contains no license statement beyond the Cabal
license field.

Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho, Jyväskylä, Finland
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