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How would you feel about a tag for proprietary software? It could save readers from searching in vain for a public repo, and some may appreciate being able to filter it out. I for one would find it useful to just get a general idea of what sort of project a submission is about. Thoughts?

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    I feel it’s unnecessary. Software is copywritten and proprietary by default at least in my country. It’s only open when user publishes it openly w/ OSS license. Vast majority of working code was similarly not on Github last I checked. I suggest speeding up your checks with quotation marks around key words such as products name, “download,” “source,” etc. That’s if you don’t find it with site:Github.com, site:Sourceforge.net, and so on.

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      Software is copywritten and proprietary by default at least in my country. It’s only open when user publishes it openly w/ OSS license. Vast majority of working code was similarly not on Github last I checked.

      The amount of proprietary software in the world doesn’t seem as relevant as the amount of proprietary software posted on Lobsters. Here, free software seems to be the norm. We could add a “FOSS” tag, but then 95% of the projects posted here would have it.

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        That’s a good point. The effect would be different on our news feed. I commented asking two others whether they want to filter as proprietary everything free as in beer, patent encumbered even though FOSS, hardware, or supported by proprietary vendors. Almost every FOSS-lover I know uses some kind of thing that’s either proprietary or developed through sales of proprietary software. Everything but the last category would be marked proprietary since it is. They’d miss knowing about it here or getting its benefits through discovery. I’m curious how many people preferring to see FOSS over proprietary software would also like all the other categories filtered despite the benefits they provide.

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          Well, people who are not interested in android might filter android development despite the possibility that a project they’d be interested in is marked “android.” If they didn’t filter android they might not see certain non-android posts that they’d be interested in. I imagine people who are not interested in proprietary software would make a similar calculation.

          Almost every FOSS-lover I know uses some kind of thing that’s either proprietary or developed through sales of proprietary software. Everything but the last category would be marked proprietary since it is. They’d miss knowing about it here or getting its benefits through discovery.

          As a FOSS-lover I can tell you that I’ve never benefited from proprietary software “through discovery.” All the proprietary software that my digital life depends on is either pre-installed in my computer, built into my Linux distro, or abstracted away in some service provider. Finding out about a new version of the proprietary drivers that come with my Linux distro, or the proprietary software running on my ISP’s switches doesn’t benefit me, because I would still get the same benefits if I didn’t find out about it.

          edit: FWIW I still probably wouldn’t filter out the proprietary tag for most of my browsing, as it’s nice to know what people are talking about. But having a proprietary tag would give me a heads up that it’s not a project that I would use.

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            Finding out about a new version of the proprietary drivers that come with my Linux distro, or the proprietary software running on my ISP’s switches doesn’t benefit me, because I would still get the same benefits if I didn’t find out about it.

            That’s really an odd perspective on a technical discussion forum.

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              It may seem odd to you but many here share that perspective. It seems odd to me when people on a technical discussion forum have no problem with software that prevents people from learning how it works and changing it to fit their needs.

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                So patents don’t bother you, only closed code? You didn’t want to read the google spanner paper or Google’s Paxos paper or about Intel Management Processor systems or about AWS capabilities or …

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                  Your can rest assured that patents bother me too, but for different reasons. In some ways patents are the opposite of closed-source software, because if I see something about a patented invention I know that the details of how it works are publicly available.

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                    Here are some interesting and much discussed systems that are closed source Spanner, bigtable, Google paxos implementation twitter gmail, Oracle DB Intel C compilers google search, bing photoshop AWS etc. Azure Windows

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                      I’m open to the possibility of interesting discussions about those systems, which is why I probably wouldn’t filter out the tag. But at the same time I would be more interested in similar discussions about free systems, which might be displaced by stories about proprietary systems. So maybe I would filter it sometimes.

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        All (to my knowledge) current author protection policies are severely outdated. While originally intended to encourage creation and communication without fear of plagiatorism and associated economical consequences they currently severely hamper both our scientifical and cultural development.

        Free software specifically proves that it is much more economical to collaborate openly. Ability to freely reuse cultural artifacts has almost completely removed up front investments in several domains, yet more free software gets created every year. If it was not economical, it would have declined with the rise of parasitic actors who would extract the value using the up front investment of the original creators.

        Same goes for science. If it were not public (albeit restricted, with access only through the libraries who pay the fee to the publisher), we wouldn’t see such a widespread utilization of it’s fruits. Failures of secretive alchemy of the middle ages is a nice example of such a broken ecosystem.

        I do not understand the reason for closed culture. I create with the purpose of creating value, not extracting it. If I were able to alter our current policies, I would immediately revoke copyright and retain just the anti-plagiatorism mechanism.

        Some might argue that this would severely damage the entertainment industry by making it impossible to make a living by creating something that is not immediately useful, only entertaining. To that I would reply that the current configuration of the society encourages the very separation of useful and entertaining.

        So please, include the tag. That way I can stop wasting my time reading about people who contribute nothing, but are very proud for it.

        (Sorry for the larger text, I’ve got carried away a little bit. tl;dr Open by default, please.)

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          Ah, zealotry. I used to be that way, once, only it was over the Amiga. A proprietary platform that was likely popular before you were born :)

          Seriously though, this attitude is incredibly closed minded. Is open source preferable? Sure! To claim that proprietary hardware and software amount to nothing is just plain wrong. The open source software movement is a relatively recent phenomenon, and could not exist at all were it not for generations of mostly proprietary hardware and software that came before it.

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            Open source software movement may be relatively recent phenomenon, but so is proprietary software.

            Rob Landley likes to tell that proprietary software was born in 1983 after Apple won the Apple vs Franklin case. That made binary software copyrightable.

            Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprietary_software#Software_becoming_proprietary

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              That timeline/correlation is very suspect. The rise of shrinkwrap software didn’t have anything to do with the emergence of an entirely new personal computer market? VisiCalc was released in 1979 because they had a crystal ball telling them they would be able to copyright it four years in the future?

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                As I understand it the beginning was indeed the new personal computer market. But the Apple v. Franklin case made copying of binary software illegal. It was sanctioned in 1983, so just 4 years after the release of VisiCalc.

                This must have sent massive shockwaves through the industry.

                From Rob Landley’s blog:

                This ruling created closed source software, and led to everything from IBM’s termination of its long history of public domain mainframe programs with its “Object Code Only” announcement, to the binary only Xerox device driver that triggered Richard Stallman into starting the GNU project. Before then, there was no such thing as “free software” or “open source” because everything worked that way. Proprietary software was a fairly recent invention, and unix was 15 years old when it started.

                EDIT:

                Also: An Golden Gate University Law article from 1984 [PDF]

                While the law has developed in favor of protection for computer software, until recently there has been substantial argument over which type of protection should govern the various phases and types of computer programs! The Third Circuit’s decision in Apple Computer, Inc. u. Franklin Computer Corporation” is significant because it held that all computer pro grams, whether expressed in object code embedded in ROM or expressed as an operating program, are copyrightable subject matter.s Thus, by granting copyright protection to all programs, the Franklin opinion has helped stabilize copyright law in relation to computer software and has allowed copyright to become the most effective, most easily obtainable, and most preferred form of legal protection· for computer programs.

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                  Yeah, Rob likes to tell the version of the story that fits his narrative where everything was free in the garden of eden, then Apple bit the serpent and enslaved humanity.

                  But there’s another version of the story that goes something like this: binary software was always subject to copyright. Franklin tried to pull a fast one and got shot down.

                  Given numerous examples, from VisiCalc to King’s Quest, that predate Rob’s creation of closed course, I know which story I believe.

                  I think the best you can say is that the status was somewhat murky, and nobody was in a hurry to find out until Franklin came along, but to affirmatively claim binary software could not be copyright is to overstate things. Read your second link. Much weaker claim given than Rob tries to make.

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                    the version of the story that fits his narrative where everything was free in the garden of eden, then Apple bit the serpent and enslaved humanity.

                    It’s interesting that RMS also has a version of this story with a totally different set of villains. An oddly similar timeframe (the GNU project was announced in 1983), but neither Apple nor their copyright case plays any role in RMS’s tale of the closing-off and creeping proprietarization of MIT Hacker Eden.

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                      The edenic days where everyone worked for the military.

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                    So strange that IBM turned away from public domain mainframe programs just as it lost its monopoly hardware position. By gum!

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                  I really don’t understand this argument. Let me use an example, are you saying that something like TOPS-10 isn’t proprietary?

                  It shipped in 1967.

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                  To top it off, user is almost certainly complaining on proprietary hardware via proprietary networks using a mix of proprietary and open component inside each. Because that’s how effective the free hardware and software model was. ;)

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                    This line of attack never struck me as a particularly interesting criticism. It goes in the same category as “ah, a socialist eh? funny you write this screed on a computer itself built by capitalism!” and [travels back in time a few centuries] “ah, a capitalist, eh? funny you write this screed on a parchment itself produced by feudalism”.

                    The end result is that if you want to change anything at all, and avoid a charge of hypocrisy, you must advocate change entirely with things you have built with your own hands on a remote desert island, because advocating change in society while using anything that was produced by current society is automatically hypocritical.

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                      But do socialists argue that capitalism has contributed literally nothing to the world? I guess some do, but Marx didn’t. I think it’s one thing to argue that a free system could be better than the current system. It’s something else to use a proprietary system to argue that said proprietary system has zero value. At a minimum, it provides the capability for you to complain about it.

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                        That sounds like a strawman to me. I highly doubt @mordae would argue that life-saving medical devices running proprietary software have zero value; that’s certainly not the impression I got from his post.

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                          It would be hard to argue for proprietary, life-saving devices outside regulation with the claims of the post. Many claims were red herrings or strawmen which led to the downvote. Since comments kept coming in on it, I’m going counter that post now but with no judgment on author as I’m guilty of same zeal about many things in past. Maybe something in present… (!)

                          “Free software specifically proves that it is much more economical to collaborate openly.”

                          Free software proves people can collaborate but the economy proves proprietary software and endeavors are more economical. With money, they can also buy politicians to make life hard for FOSS (esp on patents, API copyrights, or mass media with voter/buyer response). So, FOSS needs money to combat that stuff. Can’t ignore the economics when aiming for max benefits. The average shop in proprietary takes care of the economics with average FOSS not doing so. This is important weakness of currently-popular strategies for FOSS.

                          “Ability to freely reuse cultural artifacts has almost completely removed up front investments in several domains, yet more free software gets created every year.”

                          Switching to free software let people freeload on the few that were good. Followed by strawman that people are creating more FOSS with no data on the value of that vs all the proprietary software created for businesses or consumers. Details are important here.

                          “If it was not economical, it would have declined with the rise of parasitic actors who would extract the value using the up front investment of the original creators.”

                          This isn’t true because it’s an all or nothing proposition. The overall ecosystem of software has different types of supply and demand from money to usage to volunteering. Reality is more complicated.

                          “Same goes for science. If it were not public (albeit restricted, with access only through the libraries who pay the fee to the publisher), we wouldn’t see such a widespread utilization of it’s fruits.”

                          There is a widespread utilization of private, proprietary software. It’s apparently different from scientific publishing in some way.

                          “I do not understand the reason for closed culture. I create with the purpose of creating value, not extracting it. “

                          Author disagrees with other people’s motivations for paying their bills or gaining wealth to accomplish whatever ends. This has no bearing on how the market works but is my personal opinion. Relevant because reader preferences are relevant to filters.

                          “If I were able to alter our current policies, I would immediately revoke copyright and retain just the anti-plagiatorism mechanism.”

                          Author claims that doing something other than talking about copyright on a forum might allow the elimination of the entire copyright system that many Americans (esp artists/celeb fans) and politicians often paid by entertainment/software industry support. This point also has no bearing on what we’re discussing about what’s happening or (probably) will in the next 10-50 years.

                          “Some might argue that this would severely damage the entertainment industry”

                          They might but we’re talking about the current industry of software along with how much is proprietary vs open-source in consideration of adding a tag. Effects of copyright or tags on entertainment industry is also irrelevant.

                          “So please, include the tag. That way I can stop wasting my time reading about people who contribute nothing, but are very proud for it.”

                          A statement that could apply to a FOSS filter since most FOSS is garbage just like most proprietary software is garbage. The good ones of both definitely involve a positive contribution. Only difference is payment and distribution.

                          “(Sorry for the larger text, I’ve got carried away a little bit. tl;dr Open by default, please.)”

                          A truth followed by a reasonable statement better expressed when you pointed out what’s typical on Lobsters vs outside it. The users preference with or without that point would’ve been fine. I couldn’t have found true fault in it. I’d merely disagree, maybe upvote it for being useful, and move on.

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                            Thanks. Would you be willing to discuss the topic with me? I don’t feel that this thread would be the right place, though. Maybe another post?

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                              You can PM me about it if you want. I respond to those during time I can squeeze into my schedule.

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                              It would be hard to argue for proprietary, life-saving devices outside regulation with the claims of the post.

                              Don’t know what you mean by this. It would be hard to argue against genocide using the claims of this post, but nothing in this post suggests I support genocide.

                              Many claims were red herrings or strawmen which led to the downvote.

                              Okay but two strawmen don’t make a non-straw man. I will let the author of the post address your comments if he wants to.

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                                Don’t know what you mean by this.

                                Your comment was about whether someone supported that. The other commenter was for demolishing the I.P. systems that let vendors of life-saving devices get a return on investment in development, testing, and certification. So, I said it would be hard to say that commenter was supporting such a thing if simultaneously destroying what brings it into existence. Now, I’m sure that was an unintentional consequence of the person’s position rather than intent. Also, it was you that brought it up that specific scenario rather than the person you were talking about. Probably just a bad example.

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                                  There is a difference between “proprietary systems would not be developed under the model I am advocating” (what @mordae was saying) and “all existing proprietary systems have zero value” (what @tedu was ascribing to him). Hence why I called it out as a strawman argument.

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                                    Did you miss the part in bold?

                                    So please, include the tag. That way I can stop wasting my time reading about people who contribute nothing, but are very proud for it.

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                                      No, I read it in context and saw that it says nothing about the value of already existing proprietary software. It also doesn’t say that all proprietary software developed today has no value.

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                                        The author also wanted to eliminate copyright with the implication it was doing worse than stuff without. Almost all life-critical stuff is copywritten, patented, and with investors refusing to even attempt growing it due to risk.

                                        Now, the author might have made an exceptions for certain things. Eliminating copyright isn’t compatible with more life-saving devices in US system, though. Probably many.

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                                          It sounds like you don’t disagree that “all proprietary software has no value” is a strawman. So I’ll let the author address your comments if he wants.

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                                          Well, if the tag is for proprietary software that has no value, but not proprietary software in general, a better name for it would novalue.

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                                            That category is much more subjective and difficult to determine though. Different people have different ideas about what has no value, to the point that the tag would be completely useless. Proprietary software on the other hand is well defined.

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                                              It’s actually hard for me to assess what that would be. Many people enjoy their software that was inferior to some other software or they didn’t really even need. Games come to mind. The only thing I think of having no value to a user is something that said it would do one thing but did another. Or that locked users in to inferior stuff using legal means.

                                              Fraud and extortion are already well-established concepts. I’m not sure we need tags for them. Maybe just discourage submitting such things unless they’re unavoidable for a subset of readers due to dominance. Windows, Google Search, SaaS-related tech (eg scalability), and mobile come to mind.

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                                This is closest to what Im actually saying. Im using as much FOSS as possible so my preference is clear. Yet, people acting like payment isnt a powerful motivator, that proprietary isnt dominating is most categories, or esp that it has no value to users (uh billions a year…) is all nonsense.

                                People want both. Both get stuff done. Both can be high-quality. Both can be acquired free or cost a lot depending on supplier or solution. Complex topic they’re oversimplifying in zeal.

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                              The vast majority of software in most Linux distributions is free. Lobsters is free. The network stack consists of open standards. So what are you talking about? People might be running proprietary software on the routers/switches that make up the network?

                              Because that’s how effective the free hardware and software model was. ;)

                              The ubiquity of proprietary software seems to be a measure of which development models serve the interests of tech companies. What does that have to do with “effectiveness”?

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                                Lobsters aint free: it’s $150 a month because volunteers of various places werent laying down tons of fiber iterating on low-cost, 10Gbps switches with dirt-cheap, FOSS servers. That was those proprietary vendors trying to make a profit. Hell, they made so much they could nearly pay for unlimited FOSS, security reviews, and so on. At least jcs doesnt charge for the source code you install on your proprietary stuff. That’s true.

                                And, yes, most of a single, GPL application is freely licensed. One whose success seems to be a one off thing that doesnt back up claims about FOSS in general. An outlier. Also with most contributions coming from proprietary vendors. Without them, those contributions wouldn’t be there and it wouldn’t be nearly as cool. It’s also a copycat of UNIX: a proprietary, software development that was widely shared.

                                Proprietary, FOSS, and models in between all have a place in this world with proprietary products seeming to suceed more often.

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                                  Lobsters aint free: it’s $150 a month because volunteers of various places werent laying down tons of fiber iterating on low-cost, 10Gbps switches with dirt-cheap, FOSS servers. That was those proprietary vendors trying to make a profit. Hell, they made so much they could nearly pay for unlimited FOSS, security reviews, and so on. At least jcs doesnt charge for the source code you install on your proprietary stuff. That’s true.

                                  Lobsters is free software; that’s what I meant by free. It’s BSD licensed. If they started charging a subscription fee it would still be free software.

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                                    “Lobsters is free software; that’s what I meant by free.”

                                    I’m aware the site software has an open license. Your tangent was that hard problems don’t need proprietary solutions. Then, you brought up a FOSS software that supports your point (but is an outlier nobody expects to repeat much) and… an online discussion forum that depends on many proprietary vendors to solve a ton of hard problems while it solve a much simpler one [with much respect to admin’s hard work designing/coding it]. I pointed that example, data point out as it was evidence against your own claim in my favor of showing how critical the proprietary solutions were on a problem FOSS still doesn’t solve. Obviously, since Lobsters don’t use it to talk despite FOSS hardware and open and/or decentralized networks being available. It just all sucks compared to the highly-optimized, well-funded, proprietary Internet w/ its open protocols and massive uptake. The right combo of greed/ego and sharing got the job done on a massive level that FOSS alone keeps not doing.

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                                      What do you mean by “proprietary vendors” and which ones does Lobsters depend on? I’ve worked at a web hosting company that uses 100% free software, but they are a company that makes money. Does that make them a “proprietary vendor” by your definition?

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                                        Again, the hard parts are the hardware of the system and network. They are a few proprietary things connected to piles of proprietary hardware that run the Internet. They are almost always proprietary outside some one off hobbyists. That’s because free model didn’t work for them. Lobsters wouldn’t have happened if jcs similarly only used FOSS solving hard problems of endpoint and network. It would be maybe a Forth CPU/system talking via mesh, radio network or something similar that FOSS creates by hand or FOSS-only tools. The readers would’ve mostly gone somewhere else using the proprietary hardware and networks. We call this a network effect. :)

                                        So, you can thank those proprietary companies for the fun discussion on top of jcs and whoever contributed to the FOSS parts.

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                                          What do you mean by “proprietary company”? What is “proprietary hardware”?

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                                            It’s hardware designed by professionals to be sold for a profit without its documentation, PCB’s, Verilog, etc released as open-source. Similar for the networks with their cables, 10+Gbps switches, and so on. Also, without patents that can force it to never be created again legally. Proprietary company is a company that makes money selling hardware or software that’s not open source. Almost every one in existence outside a rare, rare few. These made the CPU’s, PCB’s, networking gear, and physical lines. FOSS replacing them must eliminate the need for them for target user-base or do everything they did.

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                                No doubt. Most of the haughty “I’M running an OPEN SOURCE operating system!” crowd is clueless about the fact that the OS is just about the only piece of OSS in their entire toolchain.

                                OSS is wonderful, and I really mean that (Truth be told I’ve largely built my career on it) but some problems are just hard to solve without properly monetizing them, and often that requires the implementation to be proprietary.

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                                  The idea that hard problems require proprietary development models doesn’t seem well thought out, and quite closed minded. Solutions to the hardest problems in the world are regularly published openly – I’m thinking of basic research in science and math.

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                                    Often the issue isn’t difficulty, but sheer scale. Programming languages, for instance, require quite a bit of infrastructure to even approach being used by the general programming public. Off the top of my head, you need a compiler/interpreter, a standard library, a runtime, documentation, etc. And a lot of it is unsexy work, which OSS does not do well with.

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                                      The idea that scale requires a proprietary model raises similar questions though. There are analogues in science with organizations like NASA and CERN, and even in software the GNU project has been able to develop a compiler, standard library, runtime, and documentation under a FOSS model.

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                                        “even in software the GNU project has been able to develop a compiler, standard library, runtime, and documentation under a FOSS model.”

                                        Do you have a list of projects that hard and big that were done under FOSS model? And where proprietary vendors weren’t paying for everything licensing proprietary software? I like collecting such things as they might lead to ideas for how to do it again.

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                                          Sorry, no I don’t. GNU is just the one that came to mind, but I should point out that GNU also gets a lot of support from companies that make proprietary software.

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                                          Totally agree. If I were independently wealthy, I’d love to work on the software commons in the tooling space. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a paying gig for this yet.

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                                            Organizations like NASA and CERN work because outside organizations and people are willing to put large amounts of money into them. They do this both for public good, and because investing money into these organizations tends to produce useful inventions as well as economic development around the organization into which the investment is going. Similarly, these are large organizations that have proven themselves to be careful stewards of the money they do receive, and there is a degree of trust built up, and a structure of oversight to ensure that the money provided is being used appropriately. These sorts of externalities and structures don’t necessarily exist in the world of free and open source software, where the focus is far more often on demonizing people and organizations that make money from software, rather than encouraging efforts to establish the things necessary to make free and open source software actually viable for most projects. Because demonizing the people who don’t follow your religion (and truly, the FOSS movement seems a lot like a religion) is a lot easier than supporting their conversion.

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                                              Organizations like GNU, the Linux Foundation, and Debian, have developed those structures and do receive a lot of funding from other companies. That’s why they are able to develop such complex systems.

                                              As to your second point, I don’t share your view that FOSS developers focus more on demonization than on making FOSS a viable option. I think they spend a lot more attention on the latter.

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                                                They’re receiving $14+ and $1+ billion a year respectively to hire tons of the brightest minds, buy the best tools, and throw those brains at hard problems until something happens? Because I thought the funding and talent situation for those FOSS organizations was much different than NASA. That whatever they are doing didn’t bring in the budget or results of methods of proprietary and CompSci.

                                                Meanwhile, the proprietary vendors rake in anything from millions (local shop) to tens of billions of dollars. Then then just hire people to write the kind of software they want to see in the world. Mostly for their benefit but sometimes FOSS. There’s a ton of that. Maybe more people wanting FOSS should attempt starting businesses that bring in enough revenues to hire at least one person working on FOSS? Or worked up to control a proprietary company or division then redirect money into FOSS infrastructure for its purposes but with side benefits to society? Wonder what FOSS would look like with a tenth of its contributors doing that.

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                                                  That whatever they are doing didn’t bring in the budget or results of methods of proprietary and CompSci.

                                                  What proprietary software exceeds the technical achievements of FOSS organizations? From a technical perspective it doesn’t seem like proprietary software is any more sophisticated or high quality. Though I’m open to hearing examples.

                                                  Maybe more people wanting FOSS should attempt starting businesses that bring in enough revenues to hire at least one person working on FOSS? Or worked up to control a proprietary company or division then redirect money into FOSS infrastructure for its purposes but with side benefits to society? Wonder what FOSS would look like with a tenth of its contributors doing that.

                                                  Okay? Maybe they should. Some people are. Some are pursuing other strategies.

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                                                    “Or do you agree that changes to our economic and political institutions could make FOSS more viable than proprietary software even for those applications where proprietary currently dominates?”

                                                    Ok. OS’s: Burroughs, VMS cluserimg, QNX determinism w/ self healing, NonStop fault-tolerance, LISP machines on flexibility, BeOS on concurrency, and Window or Mac on UX plus hardware support. Databases: Spanner/F1 RDBMS and other strong consistency high-scale models. Audio/video/publishing on Win/Mac vs Linux, gaming, cryptlib vs OpenSSL’s vulnerabilities, average commercial IDE vs average FOSS, usability + resilience of proprietary backups vs open-source tools, EDA tools that work vs FOSS, iOS vs the world… the list just goes on and on. If all such FOSS was better for customers, people would use it with it spreading word of mouth. Opposite happened.

                                                    There’s propreitary stuff that does way better than FOSS. There’s FOSS that does bettet than proprietary. Good to have both until development influences produce FOSS that’s better than proprietary in every category I mentioned.

                                                    Also, policy and legal modifications as in my other comment to make that happen sooner.

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                                                      I’m not familiar with a lot of those examples, but many of them don’t represent superior technical achievements for proprietary software.

                                                      • Windows/Mac UX is not better than Linux. That’s subjective, and people’s familiarity with Windows/Mac UX is a network effect.
                                                      • Hardware support is a network effect and also influenced by collusion between proprietary OS companies and hardware companies, which I don’t consider a technical achievement.
                                                      • The technical aspects of publishing are accomplished just as well or better on Linux. You can run a web or gopher or ftp server or seed torrents or host an onion service easily on Linux, which are the most effective publishing tools from a technical perspective.
                                                      • Gaming support is also a network effect and influenced by collusion between proprietary OS companies and game studios. Again not a technical achievement.
                                                      • cryptlib is FOSS.
                                                      • Proprietary IDE’s solve a non-problem and encourage overly verbose code and overly complex directory structures. I wouldn’t consider that an achievement, though there are free programs which fuck things up in similar ways.
                                                      • FOSS backup solutions seem technically superior to me because they mostly use standard file formats, and so are not artificially tied to a particular program, making them technically superior.
                                                      • iOS is an achievement of marketing.

                                                      I don’t consider more bloated code and more uninteresting drivers to be a technical achievement, though I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. Most technically interesting developments are available as FOSS, or else are published openly in academic papers. Then again it’s possible that proprietary software or unpublished in-house research has made technical breakthroughs that we don’t know about.

                                                      If all such FOSS was better for customers, people would use it with it spreading word of mouth.

                                                      I disagree. The most popular things are not the things that are best for customers, especially when billions of dollars per year are spent on marketing.

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                                                        “Windows/Mac UX is not better than Linux. That’s subjective, and people’s familiarity with Windows/Mac UX is a network effect.”

                                                        Did you use Linux before proprietary vendors of Linux invested tons of efforts into UX? It was more like DOS but more complicated. Meanwhile, we had Windows and Mac already usable by the masses doing more than Linux distros. It was definitely better at achieving its goal. Calling it a network effect is mere dismissal as each style aims to create network effects with this one succeeding better.

                                                        “Hardware support is a network effect “

                                                        It’s a network effect of the proprietary model that inherently works to its advantage. The open model tried but failed to achieve that network effect. That’s an advantage for proprietary.

                                                        “The technical aspects of publishing are accomplished just as well or better on Linux. “

                                                        You have the equivalent of the Adobe tools there that many professionals prefer over the Linux stuff?

                                                        “Gaming support is also a network effect “

                                                        Another failure of the FOSS model to convince people to give stuff away for free on platforms that, at the time, dragged behind the proprietary ones. Also, another advantage of proprietary model since it convinced game developers to work with that model.

                                                        “cryptlib is FOSS.”

                                                        It’s dual-licensed. The proprietary licensing pays for its development. Anyone doubting the quality would be better on a FOSS model can look at OpenSSL to see what’s typical.

                                                        “Proprietary IDE’s solve a non-problem”

                                                        Their users say otherwise. That’s why they’re so prevalent and languages even suffer in uptake until they exist. This is another dismissal technique given one of the first things developers mention about new languages is whether it has a good, development environment along with libraries.

                                                        “FOSS backup solutions seem technically superior to me because they mostly use standard file formats”

                                                        That’s economics more than technology. The vendors of GUI tools that make everything push-button simple could do that but most users don’t care. It would enable clones with no benefit. On tech side, how many FOSS services are as usable as top backup programs on Windows for average user or equivalent to Glacier and its ilk on data integrity + pricing?

                                                        “iOS is an achievement of marketing.”

                                                        Their competition said they were dead because Apple was the first to “put a desktop on a phone.” They also made it beautiful vs the competition. They’re now the richest company in existence with more profit than most or all of their competitors combined. You’re implying this happened with no technical advantage over Windows CE/Mobile, Symbian, PalmOS, and Blackberry. That’s hilarious.

                                                        And I end on that joke you just told me.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          Did you use Linux before proprietary vendors of Linux invested tons of efforts into UX? It was more like DOS but more complicated.

                                                          I find the UX that came out of those efforts to be inefficient both from a UX standpoint and computationally, so I don’t use that. Unless you’re going back to when X was created? I don’t know whether X was funded by companies that also make proprietary software, but if it was I don’t see that as a victory for proprietary software. X itself is free.

                                                          Meanwhile, we had Windows and Mac already usable by the masses doing more than Linux distros. It was definitely better at achieving its goal. Calling it a network effect is mere dismissal as each style aims to create network effects with this one succeeding better.

                                                          Not succeeding better, but succeeding first. And not succeeding due to technical superiority, but due to marketing.

                                                          It’s a network effect of the proprietary model that inherently works to its advantage. The open model tried but failed to achieve that network effect. That’s an advantage for proprietary.

                                                          As mentioned earlier network effects are the product of marketing, not a particular feature of proprietary development.

                                                          “The technical aspects of publishing are accomplished just as well or better on Linux. “

                                                          You have the equivalent of the Adobe tools there that many professionals prefer over the Linux stuff?

                                                          I’m aware that Adobe makes Photoshop but that’s not really a publishing tool. Which publishing tool did you have in mind?

                                                          “Gaming support is also a network effect “

                                                          Another failure of the FOSS model to convince people to give stuff away for free on platforms that, at the time, dragged behind the proprietary ones. Also, another advantage of proprietary model since it convinced game developers to work with that model.

                                                          OK we’re clearly arguing different points.

                                                          “cryptlib is FOSS.”

                                                          It’s dual-licensed. The proprietary licensing pays for its development. Anyone doubting the quality would be better on a FOSS model can look at OpenSSL to see what’s typical.

                                                          Dual-licensed is a FOSS model. Cryptlib is free software. OpenSSL is another example of a network effect popularizing an inferior product. If you don’t consider cryptlib to be free software, LibreSSL definitely is and I’d trust it over OpenSSL or cryptlib.

                                                          It’s also interesting that you say when proprietary software benefits from a network effect, that’s evidence of the software’s superiority, but you don’t make the same argument when FOSS benefits from a network effect.

                                                          “Proprietary IDE’s solve a non-problem”

                                                          Their users say otherwise. That’s why they’re so prevalent and languages even suffer in uptake until they exist. This is another dismissal technique given one of the first things developers mention about new languages is whether it has a good, development environment along with libraries.

                                                          Okay, and people who don’t use IDE’s don’t say otherwise. There are people who buy Juiceros too, and they don’t think it solves a non-problem. Doesn’t make them right.

                                                          “FOSS backup solutions seem technically superior to me because they mostly use standard file formats”

                                                          That’s economics more than technology. The vendors of GUI tools that make everything push-button simple could do that but most users don’t care. It would enable clones with no benefit.

                                                          The enabling of clones is a benefit.

                                                          On tech side, how many FOSS services are as usable as top backup programs on Windows for average user or equivalent to Glacier and its ilk on data integrity + pricing?

                                                          I don’t know and don’t care. That’s applying the uninteresting solved problem of how to make a GUI with buttons to underlying backup technologies which are technically inferior to ones that use open standards. I don’t consider that a technical acheivement. And what the “average user” is capable of is itself a network effect resulting from marketing.

                                                          “iOS is an achievement of marketing.”

                                                          Their competition said they were dead because Apple was the first to “put a desktop on a phone.” They also made it beautiful vs the competition. They’re now the richest company in existence with more profit than most or all of their competitors combined. You’re implying this happened with no technical advantage over Windows CE/Mobile, Symbian, PalmOS, and Blackberry. That’s hilarious.

                                                          Yes, I am. Making people think something looks beautiful is not technical superiority. But I’m glad I could make you laugh.

                                        3. 1

                                          “The idea that hard problems require proprietary development models doesn’t seem well thought out, and quite closed minded.”

                                          Whoa… poorly thought out? If free/open is best, why aren’t most things open and done by volunteers by now? Clearly the paid or get rich attributes motivated more people to act in a way that made proprietary dominate. It’s more effective by working with human nature rather than against it. Further, the biggest projects like Linux often get most of their contributions by vendors of proprietary software.

                                          Then you mention solutions to hardest problems in corporate or University R&D. Both are a paid, cathedral model. What’s tech transfered into proprietary vendors and what’s opened varies considerably among those. For instance, EDA advantages for hardware often get rolled into proprietary apps with NDA’s for some stuff, RSA was openly described with patent restrictions, Burroughs B5000 was shared source to customers, CompCert was proprietary with mixed licensing based on usage, LISP was open enough for widespread copying, and WorldWideWeb browser that help launch Web was public domain… after proprietary after the revolution of proprietary desktops… after the open Internet… after the Greatest Demo ever that wasnt done by volunteers.

                                          As you can see, the great works are all over the place in terms of licensing but almost always made by paid CompSci researchers in evironments full of good ones. You’d knock out some of the best stuff ever made filtering all but FOSS built or licensed software.

                                          1. 3

                                            Whoa… poorly thought out? If free/open is best, why aren’t most things open and done by volunteers by now?

                                            I’m not saying that free software is best or the only way to do things. I’m saying that the idea that hard problems require proprietary development models is poorly thought out. The success of proprietary software is not evidence that it’s required to solve hard problems, just as the success of slavery was not evidence that it’s required to produce cotton.

                                            Clearly the paid or get rich attributes motivated more people to act in a way that made proprietary dominate. It’s more effective by working with human nature rather than against it.

                                            So when people develop software in order to enrich themselves, they are acting with human nature, but when people develop software because they are interested in it, or to help others and contribute to a community, they are acting against human nature? That is a highly cynical view of human nature which I don’t agree with at all.

                                            As you can see, the great works are all over the place in terms of licensing but almost always made by paid CompSci researchers in evironments full of good ones. You’d knock out some of the best stuff ever made filtering all but FOSS built or licensed software.

                                            You seem to be conflating FOSS vs. proprietary with paid vs. unpaid development. It’s obvious likely that the best stuff will be developed by people who devote their careers to something, rather than contribute as a hobby. But it’s not true that the only way to pay people is within a model that locks down the product and restricts its use.

                                            1. 1

                                              I’m saying that the idea that hard problems require proprietary development models is poorly thought out.

                                              OK. If that’s all your saying, then let’s focus on that. There’s what’s required in theory vs what’s required in practice. I argue the latter are the actual requirements in general case since that’s what normally happens in the real world. In theory, open-source has a huge advantage in labor in terms of number, cost, and commitment. I thought it would be best thing for high-assurance systems or security particularly since the labor and commitment required was most important. In practice, almost every high-assurance system has been proprietary with not a single one done outside the paid, pro model. Likewise, the dominant systems have been proprietary except a few types despite all the zeal and time people put into FOSS.

                                              So, in practice, the paid and proprietary models dominated. The free or open-source models didn’t solve but the tiniest fraction of hard problems. I’m saying paid, even taxpayer, was required in practice for most of what we see as the FOSS contributor model just didn’t produce it. Past that, FOSSing it would be desirable but most didn’t. The places like Shenzhen that are ultimate test of your model do constant remixing of stuff innovating a ton in shallow features almost always on top of copies of stronger innovations from proprietary vendors (there’s exceptions occasionally). Yet, nowhere depth of innovation that proprietary or at least patented R&D is doing in U.S., U.K., Europe, Israel, Japan, or even more conservative labs in China. All of which are in top Universities aiming to have much of their high-impact tech transfered into the proprietary sector with money flowing back to them for more R&D. Or big corporations or small startups of bright people likely motivated by proprietary motives.

                                              So, you say we don’t need proprietary to solve hard problems. Maybe true in theory. A combo of paid researchers w/ proprietary aims, existing companies, and startups did solve many to most of those problems, though. The FOSS people or investments meant to lead to FOSS results mostly didn’t. Seems in practice free or give it away models do less as general rule. So far… I think your claim is mostly refuted although I encourage new models combining payment and FOSS deliverables to try to get best of both.

                                              1. 3

                                                I’m saying paid, even taxpayer, was required in practice for most of what we see as the FOSS contributor model just didn’t produce it.

                                                I don’t know what you mean by FOSS contributor model: some FOSS contributors do it as their job, some do it as a hobby. Again you seem to be conflating FOSS vs. proprietary with paid vs. unpaid, which is muddying the waters a bit.

                                                To address your general point about true in theory vs. true in practice, consider once more the analogy with slavery. During slavery, it was not a viable development model to hire free workers for a livable wage. Plantations that hired free workers got outcompeted by plantations that used slaves. Your argument for why FOSS is not viable in practice seems to have the same problems as a slave owner saying slavery is the only way to produce crops in practice, because 99% of cotton is produced by slave plantations. The success of slavery was a result of the institutions and particular conditions of the age; so it is with the success of proprietary software.

                                                1. 1

                                                  No you didn’t! You just brought slavery into the discussion then said it was similar to the paid, class-change-enabling labor of proprietary instead of the free labor of FOSS? Slavery has two components:

                                                  1. There against will with no legal options to leave. This doesn’t apply to either model on contributor side.

                                                  2. They get either nothing in exchange for their work or no guarantee of payment.

                                                  Most developers working on proprietary software get a paycheck. Most developers working on FOSS don’t get a paycheck. Most proprietary developers are sure the check is coming. They wouldn’t doubt they’d receive it. Most FOSS developers either expect no check or struggle to get them. If one is slavery, it’s definitely FOSS given most FOSS developers constantly loose time and money for others’ benefit with nothing in return. At least on financial side.

                                                  You wouldn’t see me bring slavery into the discussion, though, as I know it applies to neither. The FOSS work cited above may make a person feel good, support a proprietary business, net consulting, get jobs (portfolio), etc. Proprietary work can do the same. So, your tangent was an oversimplification that backfired on you spectacularly since highlight of both FOSS and slavery was that workers get no pay.

                                                  Note: You could in future make an analogy about lock-in via combo of proprietary software and legal instruments being a form of slavery. Big companies can’t leave without maybe destroying their business. That seems like slavery.

                                                  1. 2

                                                    I agree that this is an irrellevant tangent. We can put aside the question of whether labor undertaken as a hobby is closer to slavery than labor undertaken out of financial necessity.

                                                    It’s irrelevant because unpaid vs. paid work is independent of FOSS vs. proprietary. You can develop proprietary software as a hobby, and you can develop free software as your job.

                                                    It’s also irrelevant because the point I was making does not depend on a similarity between paid work and slavery. Maybe we can get back on track if instead of responding to a claim I’m not making (“paid work is closer to slavery than voluntary unpaid work”) you addressed the point I was making: is your argument against the viability of FOSS any stronger than a similar argument against the viability of hired wage labor for producing cotton?

                                                    Or maybe I’m putting words in your mouth and arguing against a claim you’re not making. I wouldn’t want to do that, as I know how it feels. Do you indeed believe that proprietary software is the only way to produce certain complex systems? Or do you agree that changes to our economic and political institutions could make FOSS more viable than proprietary software even for those applications where proprietary currently dominates?

                                                    1. 1

                                                      “Or do you agree that changes to our economic and political institutions could make FOSS more viable than proprietary software even for those applications where proprietary currently dominates?”

                                                      Now we’re talking. My position is currently proprietary software is solving hard problems FOSS isnt or cant. However, changes to policy of both Universities and government agencies funding R&D could dramatically increase the amount of tough problems that go FOSS. That includes CPU’s, mobike, and network tech as CompSci already builds lots of it. However, the laws on things like patents, API copyrights, and sharing fiber will also need to change if we want best results in openness such as in competitiveness and Internet backbone.

                                                      Im also for charismatic people and well-funded FOSS groups to target effort at likes of DARPA, NSF, Universities with huge endowments, and so on to establish those policies. I gave up on getting people in my country to combat laws passed with bribery. So, gotta just work around that stuff for now.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        Cool so it looks like we didn’t really disagree after all, at least on this point.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          Yep. The most important point, too. That things might get better with right strategy. :)

                                  2. 5

                                    How does a comment like this end up with a negative score? Seems totally relevant. What are people labeling it as? Incorrect? Spam? Doesn’t seem right.

                                    1. 1

                                      I don’t downvote but Im guessing because it started with how the author disagreed with our fundamental system, laws, etc. The argument for how we act in that system would be based on it. And useless since we need strategies based on what’s legal, useful, and prevalent if talking software licensing.

                                      All of those comments had at least 1 vote last I checked.

                                2. 10

                                  I will use that tag as a filter. I will also suggest the tag next time some post title “leads me down a garden path”.

                                  1. 4

                                    I too would filter links using this tag.

                                    1. 1

                                      @hobbes @danso What if it was free of charge with source for personal use, educational purposes, or verification? Software that helps people, is inspectable, or fixable but it’s still proprietary since its license is restrictive. Or patents the FOSS people are ignoring hoping for the best? A proprietary filter would apply to it with you missing its benefits.

                                      Would both of you like all shared-source, free like beer, proprietary software filtered too? Or just paid and/or closed-source stuff? Three examples from my mind are CompCert for perfect compilation, x86/ARM/MIPS/POWER CPU’s or assembly since their owners enforce patents, and most mobile OS’s (including non-ASOP Android).

                                      1. 3

                                        Price has nothing to do with “free” vs “proprietary” software, and you seem to know that, so I’m not sure why you keep bringing it up throughout this comment thread.

                                        Anyway, I’m fine with the line for this tag being unclear and missing a story that would interest me once in a while if it means I don’t see what are effectively advertisements every day for things I would refuse to use on principle.

                                        Does this include shared-source, non-commercial use licenses? I don’t really care either way…

                                        1. 1

                                          Appreciate the reply on what you’d filter. You also miss the connection between paid and FOSS. Many FOSS would simply not exist if the mantra of only use FOSS or unencumbered was followed. Universities getting revenue from tech transfer would cut FOSS’d research a bit to focus on whats popular with funding authorities, proprietary vendors contributing to Linux etc would stop, dual licensed works would take a hit, open core model would take a hit, nobody would be communicating over today’s Internet, and so on.

                                          The number of people working with financial incentives and the amount of FOSS in existence have a significant relationship. Anyone wanting people to stop buying or selling proprietary software is just asking a lot of FOSS to go away. Esp majority of contributions to Linux kernel, Android, and LLVM which would impact me peronally despite me mostly using FOSS software. So, I challenge their viewpoint esp with hardware where FOSS failed miserably due to human nature or just not right structure.

                                    2. 7

                                      I don’t think a tag that could apply to around 50% of stories is particularly useful. I think the right range for a tag is (off-the-cuff) over 2% and below 15%.

                                      1. 5

                                        Well let’s take a sampling from the front page:

                                        Tag suggestion: proprietary
                                        The Future of Ops
                                        Build yourself a Linux
                                        Decentralized Social Networks
                                        The only Official OpenBSD 6.1 CD set to be made, For auction for the project!
                                        Why use Postgres
                                        What's a Monad? Digging into Haskell
                                        Is The GPL Really Declining?
                                        You weren’t bad at maths — you just weren’t looking at it the right way
                                        Distributed Algorithms Visualizer
                                        The alarming state of secure coding neglect
                                        Kryptonite - the new home for your SSH private key.
                                        Caution when using before_destroy with model association in Rails
                                        Data analysis with Monoids (2013)
                                        Merging Maps
                                        MapSCII - Braille & ASCII map renderer for your console
                                        Live Stream: DConf 2017 Berlin - Day 1
                                        NASA Spins Up High Performance Computing Challenge
                                        Running TensorFlow in Clojure
                                        Voice "spoofing" and other military-grade deception tech (1999)
                                        Sowell on software
                                        The Hungarian Naming Convention
                                        Not Lisp again....
                                        gnome-class: Integrating Rust and the GNOME
                                        

                                        Of these, the only one that would be tagged “proprietary” is “Kryptonite - the new home for your SSH private key.” Some of the posts are not about a particular project, and many of them are about free software projects. Based on this sampling the frequency for the “proprietary” tag would be 1/24 = 4.2%, which is in your recommended range (and nowhere near 50%!).

                                      2. 4

                                        Standard request: set of example links that need such a tag.

                                            1. 1

                                              Sure. I didn’t claim mine was an exhaustive list.

                                              1. 2

                                                Of course. :) I’m just checking to see where the tag boundaries are. Do the people who want to filter these links also want to filter RMS says proprietary software is bad links? Do they want to avoid hearing about vulnerabilities in AMT?

                                                1. [Comment removed by author]

                                                  1. 3

                                                    “latest buggy-as-fuck proprietary javascript app”

                                                    I suggest the quoted statement being a tag itself. The submitters will be forced to punish themselves reading it until, Maslow-style, they’re conditioned to either stop using or posting those apps.

                                                  2. 3

                                                    Perhaps just links that present or explain a proprietary app should have the tag, instead of news related to the app.

                                            2. 8

                                              I would tag these, because they leave me disappointed:

                                              This disappoints me, but I wouldn’t tag it because it has a ‘news’ component.

                                              I would not tag this, because although no source is available, the post is about the experience of building it, not about the desktop environment itself.

                                              1. [Comment removed by author]

                                                1. 5

                                                  I wouldn’t want to filter

                                                  I’ve always thought the lobsters “all or nothing” approach to filtering is too aggressive. It would be cooler to have custom hotness modifiers.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    Hm, this is correct. If something is the hottest post ever, maybe I want to read it, regardless.

                                                2. 1

                                                  That’s helpful.

                                                  Every year in March, some colleges in the US have a basketball tournament. The best 64 teams (for large values of 64) get invited. For some teams, their status is obvious. But for others closer to the cutoff the situation is murky. This leads to the phenomenon of last four in and first four out. Examples of links “on the bubble” are quite helpful.

                                              2. 3

                                                I’m with @nickpsecurity here. Also exactly what does it mean? I know plenty of software packages which have both proprietary and OSS flavors - Sidekiq, Redash, etc etc. Does the tag apply to those, or not?

                                                1. 7

                                                  I had to check several times before I realized how you got his username wrong.

                                                  1. 2

                                                    Not a bad username itself, though :p

                                                    1. 4

                                                      Appreciate it. I always post under my actual name Nick P. It was taken on some places and I was only one on security sites with those initials that I could tell. So, nickpsecurity.

                                                      Only one that took creativity was my high-security brand and email. Had to be catchy plus convey highly-robust, but not bulletproof, security to lay persons. Settled on Digital Kevlar. Main account was Swiss (“Harbinger”) but a Gmail for public one for mitigating DDOS or availability risks better. So, that’s the story behind alias and email.

                                                  2. 2

                                                    I think it would be most useful if the tag referred to software that was only available under a proprietary license. So Sidekiq probably wouldn’t, but if there were a press release about Sidekiq features exclusive to the proprietary variant, then it would be marked proprietary. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

                                                    Could you elaborate on why you think the tag wouldn’t be useful?

                                                  3. 1

                                                    I would like to have also a few corporate tags: google, apple, microsoft.

                                                    1. 1

                                                      Even open source software has a monetization model most of the time. If it doesn’t that’s a concern, because its a matter of time till the creator abandons it. Postgres has the consulting community, Elastic has support, Ionic their premium products and I think that’s generally a good thing. Very hard to keep quality high and invest in things that users also care about (support, documentation etc.) when there is no monetization what so ever.

                                                      That being said, I do like open source as a hobby.

                                                      1. 3

                                                        I hear you, but this doesn’t need to be a referendum on whether proprietary software is morally wrong. Adding this tag would just give people more choice and freedom to focus on the things they want to focus on.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          I see what you mean, yeah that makes sense. Bit hard to identify at times maybe. With some open source solutions having a paid/closed component and a lot of closed source solutions releasing open source examples, materials, blgoposts etc.