[rb-general] [PATCH] Document timestamp clamping

Ximin Luo infinity0 at debian.org
Thu Nov 3 22:07:00 CET 2016

Chris Lamb:
> Daniel Kahn Gillmor wrote:
>> fwiw, i think that examples make a document easier for most people to
>> grasp, not harder.
> I am coming from my personal experiences in submitting patches to Debian
> packages & upstream (as well as seeing others' contributions) in that
> clamping — in comparison to vanilla application of SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH —
> is exceedingly, exceedinly rare.
> To be sure, when it is needed, it is clearly needed; but then one is almost
> certainly more immersed in Reproducible Builds lore and thus the specification
> is no longer really targetted at you.
> Thus on balance adding it that specification would somewhat paradoxically
> be counter-productive to our goals. If you can excuse the cliche, for
> documents like this, less is most definitely more and we should be highly
> conservative about what we add.

I agree that the amount of text that is proposed to be added, is disproportionate given what's currently on the rest of the document. You're more than welcome to add it here though Daniel: https://wiki.debian.org/ReproducibleBuilds/TimestampsProposal

On a separate note however: I think the scope of the specification document as it stands, is only good for one purpose - dictating what the specification is, to people that already agree with us, or that want to automatically follow us for whatever reason. This is a purpose that is very narrow in scope, and also very weak.

For people that want to spend the time thinking through the topics for themselves, or for convincing people that initially disagree with the proposal, I think the wiki page is much better. Sadly, the specification document currently only points to it for "examples", but I think the wiki page is much more than just "examples" - it documents the rationale, history, rejected alternatives, common counterarguments etc etc.

This type of document and content is much stronger than merely telling agreers what to do - it's an educational document, not an instructional one. Actually, I have referred people more times to the wiki page than to the specification document, because most of the time I am talking with people that initially disagree with the concept.

I'm not suggesting that we change the specification to add this content - I can't be bothered moving the content over, and the XML formatting is pretty painful. Also doing it in a way that distracts from the "instructions" is hard (but not impossible, IMO). But what I am suggesting is that we don't treat it as "the main document" that represents SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH. There is more to this topic (and in fact every other topic) than just telling agreers what to do.


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