The removal of an old joke from the GNU C Library manual might not seem like the sort of topic that would inspire a heated debate. At times, though, a small action can serve as an inadvertent proxy for a more significant question, one which is relevant to both the developers and the users of the project. In this case, that question would be: how is the project governed and who makes decisions about which patches are applied?
Toward the end of April, Raymond Nicholson posted a patch to the glibc manual removing a joke that he didn’t think was useful to readers. The joke played on the documentation for abort() to make a statement about US government policy on providing information about abortions. As Nicholson noted: “The joke does not provide any useful information about the abort() function so removing it will not hinder use of glibc”. On April 30, Zack Weinberg applied the patch to the glibc repository.