1. 33
  1.  

  2. 16

    I saw the disclaimer at the end (“Note: this article is not about Richard Stallman. I have no comment on the recent controversies”), but in my observation a lot of this pedantic nonsense comes from rms, so it’s hard not to talk about one without also mentioning the other.

    The question now is, can the movement grow beyond his childish pedantic stubbornness or is it too late?

    1. 3

      We need someone who’s a bulldog on user rights and software freedom without being childish and, let’s be clear, stubbornly wrong about things which have nothing to do with software. We need to ensure the Overton Window can’t be dragged so far to one side by the proprietary hardware and software companies that the right to repair seems like a radical and subversive idea, and that software which doesn’t track you seems like something only criminals want.

      1. 2

        RMS has been kicked out because he lost support and protection for being what he is. If not the movement, at least the community already grew beyond RMS, to the point where even his immediate surroundings turned against him and all the shit came out.

        I would say there’s still a lot to do in terms of communication and elitism, and this might be an unsolvable problem intrinsic to the hacker ideologies, but at least “pedantic stuborness” won’t be the main problem anymore.

        1. 1

          The question now is, can the movement grow beyond his childish pedantic stubbornness or is it too late?

          How many people have you met who are as childishly pedantic as RMS? The “movement” has been in progress for the last 20-30 years, and we’ve grown well past (and in spite of) Stallman’s word policing so much that it’s become functionally irrelevant. All he had was a pulpit at this point.

          1. 10

            He’s the one that started the movement and set the tone. You see this in many communities; the guy who starts it sets the initial tone, and this attracts like-minded folks and keeps out people who don’t have/like the same kind of attitude, which creates a snowball effect.

            1. 6

              You need look no farther than any lobsters thread about FSF calling android malware or abortion jokes in glibc manual to find people insisting that these are the words which must be used.

              1. 3

                You don’t have to call the Android surveillance platform malware. A rose by any other name, however…

                1. 2

                  I’ll admit that some of the biggest loudmouths in the community might be drawn to RMS’ style, but the vast majority of us don’t follow.

            2. 7

              I very recently discussed with a colleague about this.

              The pedantic, sometimes supremacist and cult-like tone of some advocacy by the FSF (and specially RMS) throw me off their boat.

              1. 7

                Why is “get everyone to say ‘libre’ instead of ‘open-source’” one of our goals instead?

                “Open source” to me is largely a movement to subvert the adoption of, and the moral arguments behind, Free Software. In this context it’s not really even Open Source vs Free Software like with BSD vs GNU. The anti-libre sentiment brewed by Big Software is an attempt to force a cultural shift; villify the contract of GPL, designed to protect freedoms (YMMV, YOMV), while abusing OSS through antisocial business practices. This corporate cultural shift has provided the landscape for anti-open licenses like SSPL and Parity, that fail to protect the same freedoms and morals behind FOSS, personally damaging the sphere.

                (As an aside, I see three Open Source factions, really: “classic” Open Source, BSD-heads who don’t agree with the GPL’s requirements to protect it’s ascribed freedoms; “ethical” Open Source, a more widely political force in the sphere, who are interested in using OSS licensing to protect people as well as their code; and “corporate” Open Source, almost anti-Open Source, where your project either has to be OSS to continue to be GloboCorp’s library of choice, lest you change the license to make some hard-earned money and they cough up or rewrite your project in a month internally. (I am passing no moral judgement on these factions as I see them, but I thought it could be an interesting talking point, maybe it’s stupid, you tell me.).)

                1. 1

                  This corporate cultural shift has provided the landscape for anti-open licenses like SSPL and Parity, that fail to protect the same freedoms and morals behind FOSS, personally damaging the sphere.

                  Even though I don’t agree with your opinion those licenses are ‘damaging’ to the sphere, I can see where you are coming from. Do you think there are other strategies to prevent those antisocial business practices, while at the same time avoiding any of those potential downsides?

                2. 6

                  I agree that the linguistic distinction between “libre” and “open-source” is real, but technical, and relatively unimportant for the broader political goal of making user-freedom-preserving software widely available and useful. That said, I’m skeptical of the claim that this linguistic pedantry among hardcore free software enthusiasts makes much of a difference one way or the other with regard to that political goal. People use non-free software because free software is often harder to use on the hardware they have at hand, or doesn’t perform as well at the things they care about doing, or because they don’t see the value of having control over their computation - and there are lots of good reasons why developing useful and performant free software is difficult, or why people value computational freedom less than other things. The pedantry doesn’t help, but I don’t think it particularly hurts either - and I think it’s good for the ethical message about free software that RMS and pedantic free software people like him espouse to exist in the world, even if it’s not enough by itself to meaningfully change things.

                  1. 5

                    As a massive language pedant, I have to agree. Languages change and evolve, and sometimes the old ways were more wrong than the new ones. My take on language pedantry is always to maximise communication effectiveness. If someone says open source and means libre, and everyone listening knows what they mean, there is no problem.

                    There are companies and groups that use the general misunderstanding of this distinction to their advantage, deliberately obfuscating the issue. So correcting bad usage of these words will always have a place, but if one’s language pedantry is not contributing to someone’s understanding, it is undermining communication not helping it.

                    1. 3

                      This kind of pedantry lacks tact and pushes people away from the movement. No one wants to talk to someone who corrects them like this, so people shut down and stop listening. The speaker gains the self-satisfaction that comes with demonstrating that you’re smarter than someone else, but the cost is pushing that person away from the very ideals you’re trying to clarify. This approach doesn’t help the movement, it’s just being a dick.

                      This pretty much exactly describes how I’ve felt when exposed to that type of pedantry and almost certainly has contributed to me favouring permissive licensing and not engaging with the free software movement when in theory I share some of the same ideals.

                      1. 3

                        I have the same reaction to people who use corporate-friendly permissive licenses to stick it to user freedom advocates.

                      2. 2

                        It’s an important distinction though, because one is about “creating software that people can use and modify without seeking permission” and one is about “creating software that people can use and modify as long as they join our crusade”

                        1. 9

                          And yet every other day we get stories about people releasing their software with relatively permissive licenses (BSD/MIT) and complaining that BigCo’s are profiting from their labor without compensating them.

                          At least the GPL requires said companies to actually contribute back their enhancements to the community.

                          But hey, release GPL software and BigCo’s won’t use it, because of the requirement above. Life’s a trade-off.

                          1. 4

                            the GPL requires said companies to actually contribute back their enhancements to the community

                            Only if they release the modified version. Not if they just run in as a server, which is what the “commons clause” stuff was trying to defend against.

                            1. 4

                              AGPL solves this issue, right?

                              1. 4

                                Yes, AGPL solves this issue, which was the main motivation behind its creation.

                                1. 1

                                  It’s also too toxic for people trying to create a business. I get aiming at big corps, but so many measures can be absorbed by the big ones yet completely prevent small ones from getting traction.

                                  1. 4

                                    This is part of why I want a good CopyFarLeft license: something that would allow share-alike use between individuals and cooperatively-organized firms (and possibly non-profits; not sure), while disallowing use by corporations. I’m not super concerned about the size: small business tyrants and startup-bros can go fry ice as much as the big corps.

                                    1. 2

                                      I see things that ban corporate use as inconveniencing big companies and killing little ones. I want to see more little companies so the big companies know they are not safe just because they are big. Therefore, I dislike things like strong copyleft because they are not hurting people who can afford to be hurt.

                                    2. 3

                                      It’s also too toxic for people trying to create a business.

                                      We could always dual license; if you don’t like the GPL freedom, pay money for a separate license.

                            2. 6

                              You do not need permission to use or modify Free Software.

                            3. 2

                              It is also a bit pedantic to disagree with the FSF, on the grounds that they are too pedantic.

                              1. 2

                                Can you expand on this comment? I don’t see the connection.

                              2. 1

                                The problem is that Microsoft, for example, are winning plaudits for using Open Source as a promotional strategy while continuing to attack user freedom and enclose the entire production pipeline of modern computing.

                                It’s easy to point this out when talking about free software. Much less so when talking about open source.

                                While it is possible to be rude when making that point, it is still a substantive point about language being used to mislead people. So let’s be better at making that point rather than simply tell people to be cool about letting opponents of user freedom triumph.