1. 2

    I like how that fixes my last major problem with FF: interaction with multiple tabs at once.

    1. 3

      A thing that’s open ignored in this context is that browser numbers are usually not reported by platform. While Desktop Chrome and Firefox may be a tough sell, but IMHO, Firefox for iOS and Android are terrific products. Especially FF for iOS has a much better interface over Safari. Also, Klar (Focus in some areas) is also a really good product, rethinking mobile browsing a little.

      1. 4

        As a Firefox user I feel like Firefox is really not playing up to its strengths. The recent releases have tried to make it more Chrome, thus alienating people who have used Firefox for a long time. One example is the deprecation of classic extensions replacing them with web extensions. This is largely fine and it is nice to be able to run Chrome extensions but I would’ve wanted it to provide a way of porting the functionality of old plugins (via extensions to webextentions) instead of saying “yeah, that’s it”. Then I might as well use Chrome.

        Similarly, I would’ve liked them to add more privacy focus. There are plenty of extensions doing things that a privacy minded person needs to evaluate and install and hope that the developers don’t do a bait and switch.

        1. 17

          One example is the deprecation of classic extensions replacing them with web extensions.

          The biggest problem with extensions is that they were dragging down Firefox. Classic extensions were allowed to eff up many things in Firefox in a big way.

          Similarly, I would’ve liked them to add more privacy focus. There are plenty of extensions doing things that a privacy minded person needs to evaluate and install and hope that the developers don’t do a bait and switch.

          One of the arguments against the old extensions API was that no privacy concerns could be enforced, which kind of makes this a contradicting post.

          1. 2

            I am aware why they were removed. But I would’ve liked if Firefox added sensible extensions to the webextension interface that would allow to do at least 80% of what the previous extensions were able to do. If Firefox extensions have to cater to the lowest common denominator (aka what Chrome supports), there is less reason to use Firefox instead of Chrome directly.

            And the improved privacy support could be added into Firefox proper, instead of letting users have to figure it out, thus requiring users to use fewer extensions in the first place and moving the trust anchor from random developers on AMO to Mozilla proper. Similarly how pop-up blocking was added in early Firefox which was one of the reasons people liked Firefox before every other browser copied this.

            1. 10

              I am aware why they were removed. But I would’ve liked if Firefox added sensible extensions to the webextension interface that would allow to do at least 80% of what the previous extensions were able to do. If Firefox extensions have to cater to the lowest common denominator (aka what Chrome supports), there is less reason to use Firefox instead of Chrome directly.

              Webextensions are - in contrast to other standards - allowed to implement Browser-specific things. And they indeed do provide that. There is definitely the issue that things are still being reimplemented.

              And the improved privacy support could be added into Firefox proper

              Firefox does have such features, like content-blocking and a privacy-conscious sharing setup.

              TBH, I feel like this way of interacting with Firefox is exactly what this blog post is against: we are supercritical of Firefox, but cut Chrome a lot of slack. Indeed to the point where even Chrome bugs are considered expected behaviour, but FF is not allowed to misstep at any point.

              1. 2

                Firefox does have such features, like content-blocking and a privacy-conscious sharing setup.

                To some degree, but the amount of privacy-improving extensions show that there is clearly a demand for more. And many of these extensions have existed for a long time, so there was a long time to be integrated. Of course Google Chrome will never add a built-in adblocker…

                I feel like this way of interacting with Firefox is exactly what this blog post is against: we are supercritical of Firefox, but cut Chrome a lot of slack

                This blog post itself has a hard time to figure out what the advantages of Firefox are at this point. And thinking about it I can’t come up with much either. It is not extensibility anymore, it is not performance, it is not standards compliance. This is about the same in Chrome these days. Maybe it would be time to concentrate on very specific things, like many fringe-browsers do and do massively better in this regard.

                1. 6

                  Of course Google Chrome will never add a built-in adblocker…

                  It has one https://www.blog.google/technology/ads/building-better-web-everyone/

                  This blog post itself has a hard time to figure out what the advantages of Firefox are at this point.

                  Firefox has a different user interface from chrome, it has a sync functionality that does not require a Google account, it has integrated tracking protection (to the point where some news pages see stock Firefox as an ad blocker!). It’s performance is pretty fast after Quantum, often faster than Chrome. It’s memory usage is usually getting lower nowadays. It has a vastly different UX (and IMHO better), especially around the address bar. Also, it’s not unusual that Chrome actually adopts Firefox UX patterns, but we still paint FF against the wall for being a Chrome-like.

                  1. 1

                    not unusual that Chrome actually adopts Firefox UX patterns

                    I wonder if they’ll ever adopt the scrollable tab bar :)

                  2. 2

                    It is not extensibility anymore

                    It is, still.

                    Of course it’s not “any addon can mess up the whole UI” extensible anymore, but everyone in internet comments has latched onto the idea of “it’s exactly like Chrome now”, which is just not true. Firefox provides a lot more APIs for WebExtensions, constantly adding more and more. Just in the latest release: custom context menus for extension pages, among other things.

                    1. 1

                      Want a killer app? Good web videoconferencing. Make that beautiful in firefox and you get a massive chunk of the market.

            1. 14

              I’ve seen a few things on the internet (including here at Lobsters) saying, essentially, “Please, use Firefox out of concern for the ecosystem, even if it’s worse than the alternatives at <thing you care about>.” I do use Firefox, and have for the last year, but this rankles me a bit. I realize that Mozilla is (partially) a non-profit, and that even a for-profit corporation can’t do everything, but if you visit Firefox’s Bugzilla you can find tickets for obvious features that have been open for years. Here’s one that’s been open since April 2013 and which is still unassigned.

              Part of this is a PR/communication problem; Firefox is at a bit of a disadvantage in that we can all see a list of the things they are or aren’t working on right now. But every time Firefox gains a new feature that I don’t care about, I think about all of these tickets that have been open forever and have lots of comments and duplicates but which Mozilla has chosen not to work on.

              1. 10

                I know its a pain when your pet issue doesn’t get fixed but really, bookmarklets.. I have never heard anyone irl ever mention one. 99.9% of web users probably don’t know what they are so I am betting when a mozilla dev has to choose what issue to work on there will be a lot more high priority tasks than fixing bookmarklets. I have had some real blocking issues with some new web features not working exactly to spec in firefox and I have seen a lot of them get fixed in reasonable timeframes because they affect more users.

                1. 8

                  Yeah, but that’s not what they were doing. Mozilla invested all kinds of time into projects people weren’t demanding while not fixing problems their existing users were reporting. That’s not a good way to run a business if you have one product with serious competition. Gotta keep making that product the best it can be along every attribute.

                2. 9

                  Honestly, if we’re concerned about the web ecosystem, people should use Lynx more. The web would be better if most pages had to work in Lynx.

                  Edit: Which, after checking, Lobste.rs is very readable on Lynx, and you can login just fine. Unfortunately, the reply/edit links don’t work.

                  1. 4

                    I do actually know people using the web with lynx frequently (It’s a very nice browser for blind people used to the command line).

                    1. 1

                      Just so people don’t get the wrong idea, I should mention that the majority of blind people who use computers have been productively using GUIs for a couple of decades now. Yes, there are blind people who are more comfortable with the command line and even screen-oriented terminal-based applications like Lynx, but they’re a small and shrinking minority of a minority, and I would guess that even they have given in and started using a JavaScript-capable browser when needed. There is certainly not an economic barrier anymore. So don’t feel that you need to accommodate them.

                      1. 3

                        So a blind person who uses lynx should not be accommodated, because the barriers to switching to GUIs are not economic? If it’s harder for them to learn to use a GUI than to keep using lynx, why shouldn’t they be accommodated?

                    2. 3

                      Yup. I read lobste.rs in links and have to pop over to Firefox to reply. You can post a new comment, though.

                      1. 2

                        Lynx (and Links in text mode) are great options. If you still want graphics, but not the latest JS / CSS fads, maybe try Dillo or NetSurf. All these have independent rendering engines. The parts of the web that don’t work in simple browsers are largely the ones I can do without.

                      2. 6

                        Heh, I should have guessed that was the bookmarklet bug. It is weird that a browser that supposedly empowers the user allows remote sites to dictate what code you’re allowed to run.

                      1. 7

                        Can someone explain to me, a Rust tourist at best, why async/await are desirable in Rust when awesome sauce concurrency because of the ownership / borrowing model have been baked into Rust since its inception?

                        FWIW I also really like the idea of working groups, and I think focusing on the areas where Rust gets the widest usage is super smart.

                        1. 15

                          The current Futures implementation exerts a lot of “rightward pressure” when you’re trying to chain multiple future results together. It works, and works safely, but it’s a bit messy to work with and there’s a lot of nesting to deal with, which isn’t easily readable.

                          The async/await proposal is basically syntactic sugar to linearize logic like that into a straight-line set of reasoning that’s a lot easier to work with.

                          1. 15

                            The biggest problem with the current Futures, as far as my experience goes, is that the method-chaining style involves so much type inference that if you screw up a type somewhere the compiler has no prayer of figuring out what you meant it to be, or even really where the problem is. So you have to keep everything in your head in long chains of futures. I’m expecting async/await to help with this just by actually breaking the chains down to individual expressions that can be type-checked individually.

                            Edit: And it’s desirable in Rust because async I/O is almost always(?) going to be faster than blocking I/O, no matter whether it’s single threaded or multi-threaded. So it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with threads, but rather is an orthogonal axis in the same problem space.

                            1. 5

                              I hope a lot of care is taken to make it easy to specify intermediate type signatures. I know that in other languages with type inference I’ll “assert” a signature halfway through some longer code mainly as docs but also to bisect type error issues.

                              1. 1

                                Totally agreed. As far as I understand (which is not much), saying async foo(); is similar to return foo(); in how the language treats it, so you should be able to get the compiler pointing quite specifically at that one line as the place the type mismatch occurs and what it is. If you have to do foo().and_then(bar).and_then(bop); then it just says “something went wrong in this expression, sorry, here’s the ten-generic-deep nested combinator that has an error somewhere”.

                                1. 1

                                  Async is the easier part. async fn will be sugar:

                                  async fn async_fun() -> String {
                                    // something
                                  }
                                  
                                  fn async_fun() -> impl Future<Item=String> {
                                    // something
                                  }
                                  

                                  In the back, this builds a Generator. await is setting up the yield points of the generator.

                                  async fn async_fun() -> String {
                                    let future = futures::future::ok(String::from("hello, i'm not really asynchronous, but i need quick example!"));
                                    let string: String = await!(future);
                                    string
                                  }
                                  

                                  So yes, the type mismatch would occur at the binding of the await and the right hand side is much easier to grasp. Basically, “and_then” for chaining can now largely be replaced by “await”.

                              2. 1

                                Ah, you’re right. I SHOULD know this in fact from the bad old days of Java when “Non Blocking IO” came out :)

                                1. 1

                                  This has pretty much been my only major negative with rust up to this point, i’ve got three apps underway in rust all using Futures and it just starts getting hairy when you get to a certain level of complexity, to the point you can be hammering out code and when you get to your Futures chaining it stops you dead in your tracks because it’s hard to read and hard to reason about quickly. So i’m on board with async/await reserves for sure.

                                2. 3

                                  This sums it up very well. I can do everything I personally want to do with Futures as they exist now in Rust. That said, I feel like async/await will really clean things up when they land.

                                  1. 2

                                    That’s interesting! I guess I’d mostly thought of async/await as coming into play in languages like Python or Javascript where real concurrency wasn’t possible, but I suppose using them as a conceptual interface like this with real concurrency underneath makes a lot of sense too.

                                  2. 9

                                    I believe async/await are desirable in all languages that implement async I/O because the languages usually walk this path, motivated by code ergonomics:

                                    1. Async I/O and timing functions return immediately, and accept a function to call (“callback”) when they’re done. Code becomes a pile of deeply nested callbacks, resulting in the “ziggurat” or “callback hell” look.
                                    2. Futures (promises) are introduced to wrap the callback and success/failure result into an object that can be manipulated. Nested callbacks become chained calls to map/flatMap (sometimes called then).
                                    3. Generators/coroutines are introduced to allow a function to suspend itself when it’s waiting for more data. An event loop (“executor”, “engine”) allows generators to pause each time a future is pending, and resume when it’s ready.
                                    4. “async”/“await” keywords are added to simplify wiring up a promise-based generator.

                                    In rust’s case, I think it was “implement generators/coroutines” which hit snags with the existing borrow checker.

                                    There’s a cool and very in-depth series of articles about the difficulty of implementing async/await in rust starting here: https://boats.gitlab.io/blog/post/2018-01-25-async-i-self-referential-structs/ (I’m pretty sure this was posted to lobsters before, but search is still broken so I can’t find it.)

                                    1. 8

                                      “async”/“await” keywords are added to simplify wiring up a promise-based generator.

                                      Going further: it follows the very general algebraic pattern of monad. Haskell has “do-notation” syntax which works for Promises but also Maybe, Either, Parser, etc.

                                    2. 8

                                      In addition to the great explanations of others, here are a couple diffs where the Fuchsia team at Google was able to really clean up some code by switching to async/await:

                                      1. 1

                                        Interesting! That speaks to the Rust 2018 initiative’s focus on ‘embedded’ in the mobile sense.

                                        1. 3

                                          The initiative has been surprisingly successful. Most of my clients are currently on embedded Linux and smaller.

                                    1. 10

                                      We compete with Google not because it’s a good business opportunity.

                                      Bear in mind that a lot of Mozilla’s Firefox revenue comes from Google. Mozilla competes with Google because Google lets them. I would speculate that’s to keep the semblance of an open “The Web”, the same way Microsoft paid to prop up Apple in the 1990s.

                                      1. 3

                                        There can be other revenue sources, Mozilla has had other partners in the previous years. If Google or Mozilla decides that that agreement is no longer interesting, there are other partners to work with. For example, some years ago it was Yahoo! who was paying.

                                        Personally, I’d like to see Mozilla going towards a more pulverized way of funding by people voluntarily contributing money to keep it afloat but I don’t think that with the current mindset of the web users this is viable.

                                        1. 4

                                          Personally, I’d like to see Mozilla going towards a more pulverized way of funding by people voluntarily contributing money

                                          That’s more or less the 2019 plan. If you want to support us, there will be a way to “subscribe”. I hope more people realize how important this is, but I also understand your skepticism.

                                          1. 1

                                            I already support with yearly donations and I am also a Mozilla TechSpeaker and Rep. ;-) doing what I can for the web ecosystem.

                                            1. 1

                                              Could you go into that some more (if you’re able)?

                                              1. 2
                                                1. if you’re interested in purchasing a VPN, you can start buying it through Mozilla and send a few dollars in the right direction. See https://blog.mozilla.org/futurereleases/2018/10/22/testing-new-ways-to-keep-you-safe-online/
                                                2. follow our blogs or get a Firefox account and I’m sure you’ll get mail about this :)
                                          2. 1

                                            With all the criticism that I and others have with Mozilla, I found that their strategy around funding has been very clever in the recent years. They have played their position as a neutral player very well. Google funds them to keep other from funding them, not as a smoke screen.

                                          1. 3

                                            Be aware that the slide recommends using pointers to enum something {} for opaque types. This is actually UB (you cannot produce those types in Rust and the compiler will reason on those types being uninhabited). I have yet to see actual bugs coming out of this, but it definitely is. The right way is to use enum something { _private: [u8; 0] }, which is an inhabited type that cannot be constructed.

                                            (Also, we will introduce opaque types for the reason that this is a bit… opaque)

                                            To be very clear: this does not introduce UB into safe Rust, as these types (and thus pointers to them) cannot be created without unsafe operations.

                                            https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/librsvg/issues/391 https://doc.rust-lang.org/nomicon/ffi.html#representing-opaque-structs

                                            1. 81

                                              I beg all my fellow crustaceans to please, please use Firefox. Not because you think it’s better, but because it needs our support. Technology only gets better with investment, and if we don’t invest in Firefox, we will lose the web to chrome.

                                              1. 59

                                                Not because you think it’s better

                                                But that certainly helps too. It is a great browser.

                                                • privacy stuff — the cookie container API for things like Facebook Container, built-in tracker blocker, various anti-fingerprinting things they’re backporting from the Tor Browser
                                                • honestly just the UI and the visual design! I strongly dislike the latest Chrome redesign >_<
                                                • nice devtools things — e.g. the CSS Grid inspector
                                                • more WebExtension APIs (nice example: only on Firefox can Signed Pages actually prevent the page from even loading when the signature check fails)
                                                • the fastest (IIRC) WASM engine (+ now in Nightly behind a pref: even better codegen backend based on Cranelift)
                                                • ongoing but already usable Wayland implementation (directly in the official tree now, not as a fork)
                                                • WebRender!!!
                                                1. 7

                                                  On the other hand, WebSocket debugging (mostly frame inspection) is impossible in Firefox without an extension. I try not to install any extensions that I don’t absolutely need and Chrome has been treating me just fine in this regard[1].

                                                  Whether or not I agree with Google’s direction is now a moot point. I need Chrome to do what I do with extensions.

                                                  As soon as Firefox supports WebSocket debugging natively, I will be perfectly happy to switch.

                                                  [1] I mostly oppose extensions because of questionable maintenance cycles. I allow uBlock and aXe because they have large communities backing them.

                                                  1. 3

                                                    Axe (https://www.deque.com/axe/) seems amazing. I know it wasn’t the focus of your post – but I somehow missed this when debugging an accessibility issue just recently, I wish I had stumbled onto it. Thanks!

                                                    1. 1

                                                      You’re welcome!

                                                      At $work, we used aXe and NVDA to make our webcomponents AA compliant with WCAG. aXe was invaluable for things like contrast and missing role attributes.

                                                    2. 3

                                                      WebSocket debugging (mostly frame inspection) is impossible in Firefox without an extension

                                                      Is it possible with an extension? I can’t seem to find one.

                                                      1. 1

                                                        I have never needed to debug WebSockets and see no reason for that functionality to bloat the basic browser for everybody. Too many extensions might not be a good thing but if you need specific functionality, there’s no reason to hold back. If it really bothers you, run separate profiles for web development and browsing. I have somewhat more than two extensions and haven’t had any problems.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          I do understand your sentiment, but the only extension that I see these days is marked “Experimental”.

                                                          On the other hand, I don’t see how it would “bloat” a browser very much. (Disclaimer: I have never written a browser or contributed to any. I am open to being proved wrong.) I have written a WebSockets library myself, and it’s not a complex protocol. It can’t be too expensive to update a UI element on every (websocket) frame.

                                                      2. 5

                                                        Yes! I don’t know about you, but I love the fact that Firefox uses so much less ram than chrome.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          This was one of the major reasons I stuck with FF for a long time. It is still a pronounced difference.

                                                        2. 3

                                                          honestly just the UI and the visual design! I strongly dislike the latest Chrome redesign >_<

                                                          Yeah, what’s the deal with the latest version of Chrome? All those bubbly menus feel very mid-2000’s. Everything old is new again.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            I found a way to go back to the old ui from https://www.c0ffee.net/blog/openbsd-on-a-laptop/ (it was posted here a few weeks ago):

                                                            Also, set the following in chrome://flags:

                                                            • Smooth Scrolling: (personal preference)
                                                            • UI Layout for the browser’s top chrome: set to “Normal” to get the classic Chromium look back
                                                            • Identity consistency between browser and cookie jar: set to “Disabled” to keep Google from hijacking any Google > - login to sign you into Chrome
                                                            • SafeSearch URLs reporting: disabled

                                                            (emphasis mine)

                                                          2. 1

                                                            The Wayland implementation is not usable quite yet, though, but it is close. I tried it under Sway, but it was crashy.

                                                            1. -3

                                                              Not really. Not to mention Pocked integration and recent vpn advertisement. Ah, and they have removed RSS support.

                                                              It’s just another product made by a for-profit corporation.

                                                              I think web got over-complicated. There are none usable truly independent browsers and probably will never be. It’s a read-only “opensource”.

                                                              1. 16

                                                                It’s just another product made by a for-profit corporation.

                                                                They (Mozilla) are actually a non-profit.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  There is also Mozilla corporation.

                                                                  1. 12

                                                                    …which is 100% owned by the Mozilla Foundation, and:

                                                                    The Mozilla Corporation reinvests all of its profits back into the Mozilla projects.

                                                                    Forming for-profit corporations is not uncommon for NGOs, because NGOs in many countries are severely legally limited in the amount of commercial activities they’re able to do.

                                                                    1. 3

                                                                      Adding to that, funding FOSS software development is not considered 501(c)3-eligible in the US.

                                                                2. 5

                                                                  I had the same impression with that over-complication of JS into ES6. CSS is also looking more like a programming language. HTTP/2 is now a binary protocol. So to have a modern web platform, you need to support all of these, and none are trivial anymore. On the other hand, I find it amazing to be able to do netwroking, audio, video, 3d and highly customizable user interfaces with (relatively) few efforts at a pretty good speed. As a platform for creativity and experimentation, it is without equivalent.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    without equivalent.

                                                                    Java applets - done right?

                                                                    1. 3

                                                                      Or Flash/Shockwave done openly and right?

                                                                      1. 4

                                                                        Both Java applets and Flash were actually more like trojan horses. See how Flash ( very good scenegraph at the time) became Air (ie. a tentative to take over the Web like Java) and thankfully died because Apple killed it with the iPhone. The intention was to run programs within a walled garden, not to interoperate with the Web at large. At least that’s how I read it.

                                                                        1. 4

                                                                          Good point on long-term risk. Do note I said Flash/Shockwave the tech. That was made by Macromedia, not Adobe. Macromedia was a company whose pricey tech was kick-ass but no attempt to be open or interoperate past maybe Dreamweaver. Catchy name many lay people could spell, too.

                                                                          I think Adobe acquiring them made me drop some F-bombs, sigh a bit, eye rolls, and so on. I knew there would be short-term improvements before the large company FUBARed its value over time. Apple’s position sealed its fate.

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            Indeed, Macromedia had a much better stewardship than Adobe in this respect. What I find really ironic is that before the acquisition, Adobe was pushing SVG and SVG animations as an alternative to Flash, embracing and pushing the web standards. After the acquisition, everything stalled and it’s only with Apple creating the Canvas API and standardizing it through the newly created WHATWG that we started to catch up and be able to do so fast interactive graphics on the Web. What we lost, though, is one of the best tool to create vector animations with programmatic behaviour. One step ahead, two steps back some might say.

                                                                        2. 3

                                                                          I think the difference is that aplets and flash were supposed to extend the web experience, new technologies are replacing it. It’s convenient but dangerous as it promotes monoculture. I don’t know if there is a safe middle ground.

                                                                          1. 5

                                                                            There is a lot being lost with the death of Flash. It was amazingly lightweight when it started out. You can take that Homestar Runner e-mail and the original Flash, resize it to 4k, and it will still render correctly and sharply. You can’t do that when you export animation to YouTube at a set resolution. Not to mention all the games that were made in Flash that we’ll loose soon.

                                                                            Adobe really butchered all the Macromedia stuff when they acquired that company. It’s pretty sad.

                                                                    2. 2

                                                                      What does “removes RSS support” mean? Was it possible to use it as a feed reader before?

                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        Yeah, it was called “Live Bookmarks” and basically made your RSS feed subs show up in your bookmarks bar (or accessible from a page). It actually looked really neat, but I only found about it when/because they removed it.

                                                                        1. 10

                                                                          “Live Bookmarks” still exist, in Firefox 63.0.3 released on Nov 15th, 2018. I use them. Go to any RSS feed in FF and they will pop up. I use them for multiple Discourse forums.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Ah, sad times, thanks for the link!

                                                                        2. -1

                                                                          Sure, using live bookmarks and integrated reader. But RSS collided with the their new commercial and closed product namely Pocket.

                                                                          1. 4

                                                                            That’s not completely fair. I’m not sure if anything has happened yet, but Mozilla does have plans to open-source Pocket:

                                                                            As a result of this strategic acquisition, Pocket will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Mozilla Corporation and will become part of the Mozilla open source project.

                                                                    3. 16

                                                                      I switched to Firefox last year, and I have to say I don’t miss Chrome in the slightest.

                                                                      1. 13

                                                                        And those with a little financial liberty, consider donating to Mozilla. They do a lot of important work free a free and open web.

                                                                        1. 10

                                                                          I recently came back to Firefox from Vivaldi. That’s another Chromium/Webkit based browser and it’s closed source to boot.

                                                                          Firefox has improved greatly in speed as of late and I feel like we’re back in the era of the mid-2000s, asking people to chose Firefox over Chrome this time instead of IE.

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            I’d love to switch from Vivaldi, but it’s simply not an option given the current (terrible) state of vertical tab support in Firefox.

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              How is it terrible? The hiding of the regular tab bar is not an API yet and you have to use CSS for that, sure, but there are some very good tree style tab webextensions.

                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                The extensions are all terrible – but what’s more important is that I lost the belief that any kind of vertical tab functionality has any chance of long-term survival. Even if support was added now, it would be a constant battle to keep it and I’m frankly not interested in such fights anymore.

                                                                                Mozilla is chasing their idealized “average user” and is determined to push everyone into their one-size-fits-all idea of user interface design – anyone not happy with that can screw off, if it was for Mozilla.

                                                                                It’s 2018 – I don’t see why I even have to argue for vertical tabs and mouse gestures anymore. I just pick a browser vendor which hasn’t been asleep on the wheel for the last 5 years and ships with these features out of the box.

                                                                                And if the web in the future ends up as some proprietary API defined by whatever Google Chrome implements, because Firefox went down, Mozilla has only itself to blame.

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  The extensions are all terrible – but what’s more important is that I lost the belief that any kind of vertical tab functionality has any chance of long-term survival. Even if support was added now, it would be a constant battle to keep it and I’m frankly not interested in such fights anymore. The whole point of moving to WebExtensions was long term support. They couldn’t make significant changes without breaking a lot of the old extensions. The whole point was to unhook extensions from the internals so they can refactor around them and keep supporting them.

                                                                                  1. 0

                                                                                    That’s like a car manufacturer removing all electronics from a car – sure it makes the car easier to support … but now the car doesn’t even turn on anymore!

                                                                                    Considering that cars are usually used for transportation, not for having them sit in the garage, you shouldn’t be surprised that customers buy other cars in the future.

                                                                                    (And no, blaming “car enthusiasts” for having unrealistic expectations, like it happens in the case of browser users, doesn’t cut it.)

                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                      So you’d rather they didn’t improve it at all? Or would you rather they broke most extensions every release?

                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                        I’m not @soc, but I wish Firefox had delayed their disabling of old-style extensions in Firefox 57 until they had replicated more of the old functionality with the WebExtensions API – mainly functionality related to interface customization, tabs, and sessions.

                                                                                        Yes, during the time of that delay, old-style extensions would continue to break with each release, but the maintainers of Tree Style Tabs and other powerful extensions had already been keeping up with each release by releasing fixed versions. They probably could have continued updating their extensions until WebExtensions supported their required functionality. And some users might prefer to run slightly-buggy older extensions for a bit instead of switching to the feature-lacking new extensions straight away – they should have that choice.

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                                                                                          What’s the improvement? The new API was so bad that they literally had to pull the plug on the existing API to force extension authors to migrate. That just doesn’t happen in cases where the API is “good”, developers are usually eager to adopt them and migrate their code.

                                                                                          Let’s not accuse people you disagree with that they are “against improvements” – it’s just that the improvements have to actually exist, and in this case the API clearly wasn’t ready. This whole fiasco feels like another instance of CADT-driven development and the failure of management to reign in on it.

                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                            The old extension API provided direct access to the JavaScript context of both the chrome and the tab within a single thread, so installing an XUL extension was disabling multiprocess mode. Multiprocess mode seems like an improvement; in old Firefox, a misbehaving piece of JavaScript would lock up the browser for about a second before eventually popping up a dialog offering to kill it, whereas in a multiprocess browser, it should be possible to switch and close tabs no matter what the web page inside does. The fact that nobody notices when it works correctly seems to make it the opposite of Attention-Deficient-Driven-Design; it’s the “focus on quality of implementation, even at the expense of features” design that we should be encouraging.

                                                                                            The logical alternative to “WebExtension For The Future(tm)” would’ve been to just expose all of the relevant threads of execution directly to the XUL extensions. run-this-in-the-chome.xul and run-this-in-every-tab.xul and message pass between them. But at that point, we’re talking about having three different extension APIs in Firefox.

                                                                                            Which isn’t to say that I think you’re against improvement. I am saying that you’re thinking too much like a developer, and not enough like the poor sod who has to do QA and Support triage.

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                                                                                              Improving the actual core of Firefox. They’re basically ripping out and replacing large components every other release. This would break large amount of plugins constantly. Hell, plugins wouldn’t even work in Nightly. I do agree with @roryokane that they should have tried to improve it before cutting support. The new API is definitely missing many things but it was the right decision to make for the long term stability of Firefox.

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                                                                                                They could have made the decision to ax the old API after extension authors adopted it. That adoption failed so hard that they had to force developers to use the new API speaks for itself.

                                                                                                I’d rather have extension that I have to fix from time to time, than no working extensions at all.

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                                                                                        Why should Mozilla care that much about your niche use case? They already have a ton of stuff to deal with and barely enough funding.

                                                                                        It’s open source, make your own VerticalTabFox fork :)

                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                          Eh … WAT? Mozilla went the extra mile with their recent extension API changes to make things – that worked before – impossible to implement with a recent Firefox version. The current state of tab extensions is this terrible, because Mozilla explicitly made it this way.

                                                                                          I used Firefox for more than 15 years – the only thing I wanted was to be left alone.

                                                                                          It’s open source, make your own VerticalTabFox fork :)

                                                                                          Feel free to read my comment above to understand why that doesn’t cut it.

                                                                                          Also, Stuff that works >> open source. Sincerely, a happy Vivaldi user.

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                                                                                            It’s one of the laws of the internet at this point: Every thread about Firefox is always bound to attract someone complaining about WebExtensions not supporting their pet feature that was possible with the awful and insecure old extension system.

                                                                                            If you’re care about “non terrible” (whatever that means — Tree Style Tab looks perfect to me) vertical tabs more than anything — sure, use a browser that has them.

                                                                                            But you seem really convinced that Firefox could “go down” because of not supporting these relatively obscure power user features well?? The “average user” they’re “chasing” is not “idealized”. The actual vast majority of people do not choose browsers based on vertical tabs and mouse gestures. 50% of Firefox users do not have a single extension installed, according to telemetry. The majority of the other 50% probably only have an ad blocker.

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                                                                                              If you’re care about “non terrible” (whatever that means — Tree Style Tab looks perfect to me) vertical tabs more than anything — sure, use a browser that has them.

                                                                                              If you compare the current state of the art of vertical tabs extensions, even Mozilla thinks they suck – just compare them to their own Tab Center experiment: https://testpilot.firefox.com/static/images/experiments/tab-center/details/tab-center-1.1957e169.jpg

                                                                                              Picking just one example: Having the navigation bar at a higher level of the visual hierarchy is just wrong – the tab panel isn’t owned by the navigation bar, the navigation bar belongs to a specific tab! Needless to say, all of the vertical tab extensions are forced to be wrong, because they lack the API do implement the UI correctly.

                                                                                              This is how my browser currently looks like, for comparison: https://i.imgur.com/5dTX8Do.png

                                                                                              But you seem really convinced that Firefox could “go down” because of not supporting these relatively obscure power user features well?? The “average user” they’re “chasing” is not “idealized”. The actual vast majority of people do not choose browsers based on vertical tabs and mouse gestures. 50% of Firefox users do not have a single extension installed, according to telemetry. The majority of the other 50% probably only have an ad blocker.

                                                                                              You can only go so far alienating the most loyal users that use Firefox for specific purposes until the stop installing/recommending it to their less technically-inclined friends and relatives.

                                                                                              Mozilla is so busy chasing after Chrome that it doesn’t even realize that most Chrome users will never switch. They use Chrome because “the internet” (www.google.com) told them so. As long as Mozilla can’t make Google recommend Firefox on their frontpage, this will not change.

                                                                                              Discarding their most loyal users while trying to get people to adopt Firefox who simply aren’t interested – this is a recipe for disaster.

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                                                                                            and barely enough funding

                                                                                            Last I checked they pulled in half a billion in revenue (2016). Do you believe this is barely enough?

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                                                                                              For hundreds of millions users?

                                                                                              Yeah.

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                                                                                          At least with multi-row tabs in CSS you can’t dragndrop tabs. That’s about as bad as it gets.

                                                                                        3. 2

                                                                                          Are vertical tabs so essential?

                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                            Considering the change in screen ratios over the past ten years (displays get shorter and wider), yes, it absolutely is.

                                                                                            With vertical tabs I can get almost 30 full-width tabs on screen, with horizontal tabs I can start fishing for the right tab after about 15, as the tab width gets increasingly smaller.

                                                                                            Additionally, vertical tabs reduce the way of travel substantially when selecting a different tab.

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                                                                                              I still miss them, didn’t cripple me, but really hurt. The other thing about Tree (not just vertical) tabs that FF used to have was that the subtree was contextual to the parent tree. So, when you opened a link in a background tab, it was opened in a new tab that was a child of your current tab. For doing like documentation hunting / research it was amazing and I still haven’t found its peer.

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                                                                                            It’s at least partially open source. They provide tarballs.

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                                                                                              https://help.vivaldi.com/article/is-vivaldi-open-source/

                                                                                              The chromium part is legally required to be open, the rest of their code is like readable source, don’t get me wrong that’s way better than unreadable source but it’s also very wut.

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                                                                                                Very wut. It’s a weird uneasy mix.

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                                                                                                  that’s way better than unreadable source but it’s also very wut.

                                                                                                  I wouldn’t be sure of that. It makes it auditable, but has legal ramifications should you want to build something like vivaldi, but free.

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                                                                                              firefox does not get better with investment, it gets worse.

                                                                                              the real solution is to use netsurf or dillo or mothra, so that webmasters have to come to us and write websites that work with browsers that are simple enough to be independently maintained.

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                                                                                                Good luck getting more than 1‰ adoption 😉

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                                                                                                  good luck achieving independence from Google by using a browser funded by Google

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                                                                                                    I can achieve independence from Google without using netsurf, dillo, or mothra; to be quite honest, those will never catch on.

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                                                                                                      can you achieve independence from google in a way that will catch on?

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                                                                                                        I don’t think we’ll ever get the majority of browser share back into the hands of a (relatively) sane organization like Mozilla—but we can at least get enough people to make supporting alternative browsers a priority. On the other hand, the chances that web devs will ever feel pressured to support the browsers you mentioned, is close to nil. (No pun intended.)

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                                                                                                          what is the value of having an alternative, if that alternative is funded by google and sends data to google by default?

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            what is the value of having an alternative

                                                                                                            What would you like me to say, that Firefox’s existence is worthless? This is an absurd thing to insinuate.

                                                                                                            funded by google

                                                                                                            No. I’m not sure whether you’re speaking in hyperbole, misunderstood what I was saying, and/or altogether skipped reading what I wrote. But this is just not correct. If Google really had Mozilla by the balls as you suggest, they would coerce them to stop adding privacy features to their browser that, e.g., block Google Analytics on all sites.

                                                                                                            sends data to google by default

                                                                                                            Yes, though it seems they’ve been as careful as one could be about this. Also to be fair, if you’re browsing with DNT off, you’re likely to get tracked by Google at some point anyway. But the fact that extensions can’t block this does have me worried.

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                                                                                                              i’m sorry if i misread something you wrote. i’m just curious what benefit you expect to gain if more people start using firefox. if everyone switched to firefox, google could simply tighten their control over mozilla (continuing the trend of the past 10 years), and they would still have control over how people access the web.

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                                                                                                                It seems you’re using “control” in a very abstract sense, and I’m having trouble following. Maybe I’m just missing some context, but what concrete actions have Google taken over the past decade to control the whole of Mozilla?

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                                                                                                                  Google has pushed through complex standards such as HTTP/2 and new rendering behaviors, which Mozilla implements in order to not “fall behind.” They are able implement and maintain such complexity due to funding they receive from Google, including their deal to make Google the default search engine in Firefox (as I said earlier, I couldn’t find any breakdown of what % of Mozilla’s funding comes from Google).

                                                                                                                  For evidence of the influence this funding has, compare the existence of Mozilla’s Facebook Container to the non-existence of a Google Container.

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                                                                                                                    what % of Mozilla’s funding comes from Google

                                                                                                                    No word on the exact breakdown. Visit their 2017 report and scroll all the way to the bottom, and you’ll get a couple of helpful links. One of them is to a wiki page that describes exactly what each search engine gets in return for their investment.

                                                                                                                    I would also like to know the exact breakdown, but I’d expect all those companies would get a little testy if the exact amount were disclosed. And anyway, we know what the lump sum is (around half a billion), and we can assume that most of it comes from Google.

                                                                                                                    the non-existence of a Google Container

                                                                                                                    They certainly haven’t made one themselves, but there’s nothing stopping others from forking one off! And anyway, I think it’s more so fear on Mozilla’s part than any concrete warning from Google against doing so.

                                                                                                                    Perhaps this is naïveté on my part, but I really do think Google just want their search engine to be the default for Firefox. In any case, if they really wanted to exert their dominance over the browser field, they could always just… you know… stop funding Mozilla. Remember: Google is in the “web market” first & the “software market” second. Having browser dominance is just one of many means to the same end. I believe their continued funding of Mozilla attests to that.

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                                                                                                                      It doesn’t have to be a direct threat from Google to make a difference. Direct threats are a very narrow way in which power operates and there’s no reason that should be the only type of control we care about.

                                                                                                                      Yes Google’s goal of dominating the browser market is secondary to their goal of dominating the web. Then we agree that Google’s funding of Firefox is in keeping with their long-term goal of web dominance.

                                                                                                                      if they really wanted to exert their dominance over the browser field, they could always just… you know… stop funding Mozilla.

                                                                                                                      Likewise, if Firefox was a threat to their primary goal of web dominance, they could stop funding Mozilla. So doesn’t it stand to reason that using Firefox is not an effective way to resist Google’s web dominance? At least Google doesn’t think so.

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                                                                                                                        Likewise, if Firefox was a threat to their primary goal of web dominance, they could stop funding Mozilla. So doesn’t it stand to reason that using Firefox is not an effective way to resist Google’s web dominance?

                                                                                                                        You make some good points, but you’re ultimately using the language of a “black or white” argument here. In my view, if Google were to stop funding Mozilla they would still have other sponsors. And that’s not to mention the huge wave this would make in the press—even if most people don’t use Firefox, they’re at least aware of it. In a strange sense, Google cannot afford to stop funding Mozilla. If they do, they lose their influence over the Firefox project and get huge backlash.

                                                                                                                        I think this is something the Mozilla organization were well aware of when they made the decision to accept search engines as a funding source. They made themselves the center of attention, something to be competed over. And in so doing, they ensured their longevity, even as Google’s influence continued to grow.

                                                                                                                        Of course this has negative side effects, such as companies like Google having influence over them. But in this day & age, the game is no longer to be free of influence from Google; that’s Round 2. Round 1 is to achieve enough usage to exert influence on what technologies are actually adopted. In that sense, Mozilla is at the discussion table, while netsurf, dillo, and mothra (as much as I’d love to love them) are not and likely never will be.

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                                                                                                    Just switch to Gopher.

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                                                                                                      Just switch to Gopher

                                                                                                      I know you were joking, but I do feel like there is something to be said for the simplicity of systems like gopher. The web is so complicated nowadays that building a fully functional web browser requires software engineering on a grand scale.

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                                                                                                        yeah. i miss when the web was simpler.

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                                                                                                          I was partially joking. I know there are new ActivityPub tools like Pleroma that support Gopher and I’ve though about adding support to generate/server gopher content for my own blog. I realize it’s still kinda a joke within the community, but you’re right about there being something simple about just having content without all the noise.

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                                                                                                      Unless more than (rounded) 0% of people use it for Facebook, it won’t make a large enough blip for people to care. Also this is how IE was dominant, because so much only worked for them.

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                                                                                                        yes, it would require masses of people. and yes it won’t happen, which is why the web is lost.

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                                                                                                      I’ve relatively recently switched to FF, but still use Chrome for web dev. The dev tools still seem quite more advanced and the browser is much less likely to lock up completely if I have a JS issue that’s chewing CPU.

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                                                                                                        I tried to use Firefox on my desktop. It was okay, not any better or worse than Chrome for casual browsing apart from private browsing Not Working The Way It Should relative to Chrome (certain cookies didn’t work across tabs in the same Firefox private window). I’d actually want to use Firefox if this was my entire Firefox experience.

                                                                                                        I tried to use Firefox on my laptop. Site icons from bookmarks don’t sync for whatever reason (I looked up the ticket and it seems to be a policy problem where the perfect is the enemy of the kinda good enough), but it’s just a minor annoyance. The laptop is also pretty old and for that or whatever reason has hardware accelerated video decoding blacklisted in Firefox with no way to turn it back on (it used to work a few years ago with Firefox until it didn’t), so I can’t even play 720p YouTube videos at an acceptable framerate and noise level.

                                                                                                        I tried to use Firefox on my Android phone. Bookmarks were completely useless with no way to organize them. I couldn’t even organize on a desktop Firefox and sync them over to the phone since they just came out in some random order with no way to sort them alphabetically. There was also something buggy with the history where clearing history didn’t quite clear history (pages didn’t show up in history, but links remained colored as visited if I opened the page again) unless I also exited the app, but I don’t remember the details exactly. At least I could use UBO.

                                                                                                        This was all within the last month. I used to use Firefox before I used Chrome, but Chrome just works right now.

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                                                                                                          I definitely understand that Chrome works better for many users and you gave some good examples of where firefox fails. My point was that people need to use and support firefox despite it being worse than chrome in many ways. I’m asking people to make sacrifices by taking a principled position. I also recognize most users might not do that, but certainly, tech people might!? But maybe I’m wrong here, maybe the new kids don’t care about an open internet.

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                                                                                                        Loved the Rust logo.

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                                                                                                          While the new design looks really good, is there a reason why the contents of the ‘community’ pages differs so much? In particular the omission of IRC channels (likewise for the ‘Social’ at the bottom of the page). Is this indicative of an official shift away from IRC to Discord?

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                                                                                                            Seeing the discord logo at the footer was probably the most saddening part of this design.

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                                                                                                              I’m not a fan, but there’s ton of practical advantages that Discord gave us. I prefer Zulip, but they lacked crucial features when we evaluated. (Now fixed)

                                                                                                              Also note that we only publish resources our moderation team can cover and that one is stretched thin currently.

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                                                                                                                Not everyone on Discord is a gamer Nazi. Joining a community that’s actually filled with decent people gave me an insight into the good parts of Discord, compared to IRC and compared to Slack (granted I don’t have that much experience of Slack).

                                                                                                                Good stuff includes:

                                                                                                                • pinnable topics with multiple lines
                                                                                                                • a great mobile interface
                                                                                                                • persistent identities (not 100% if this is universal thing though)

                                                                                                                The game-centric stuff is a bit off-putting but if it helps keep the servers running I’m fine with it.

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                                                                                                                  I don’t care about the other users on discord. I care that its a proprietary memory hog application that connects to a centralized server.

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                                                                                                                    Thanks for clarifying your viewpoint.

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                                                                                                                    Seeing people assume that the biggest problem with Rust’s adaptation of Discord is that it’s also used by “gamer Nazis” was probably the saddest part of this comment thread.

                                                                                                                    (The biggest problem with Discord is that it is a closed-source proprietary platform used as a primary means of communication for an open-source project, that the developers of that project don’t seem to have a problem with. There’s no reason in principle why it’s bad for Rust-related chat to use the same technology that gamers with politics that some people don’t like use.)

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                                                                                                                      The funny thing is that I don’t even know what “gamer Nazi” is even referencing in the context of Discord. (A Google search shows some interesting results.) To my uneducated eye, Discord is just another chat platform. I like IRC personally, but it’s a weakly held preference that probably has more to do with familiarity. Although, one of my favorite things about IRC is that I can keep logs in a plain text format and easily grep them. I use that functionality a lot. I don’t know how to do that with Discord. Nevertheless, I hang out there because other people are there, and we make sure it’s just as friendly as any other official Rust space.

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                                                                                                                        As sad as I am to say it, the reason for most working groups (not all!) ending up on Discord is literally: it works and has mobile clients that notify properly. It’s better than Slack, exposes less personal information and actually has moderation features.

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                                                                                                                    A huge part of the community page was outdated and frequently checking it became unfeasible. This includes a lot of the IRC channels. With Mozillas IRC channel becoming more and more a target for spammers and such, there is also a move away from them, especially for project members. You can chat there, but there is a high likeliness that you can’t interact with the project if you want. It’s indicative of a practical shift. By policy, the Rust project does not enforce any place to chat.

                                                                                                                    Also, the old style of the community page was great for a young community. We could literally show everything on there. Paradoxically, that becomes unfeasible when the community grows. A lot of things have moved to other places.

                                                                                                                    We felt that a lot of the things now present on the page were not well presented before. For example, conferences were not well presented.

                                                                                                                    Is there anything you absolutely miss from the old page?

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                                                                                                                      Hello, there is not something that I miss per se, but I just found it interesting that the contents differed so much - thank you for your clarification on that.

                                                                                                                      I was not aware of the shift towards Discord. It came as bit of a shock, and while I understand that this is not the correct place to further the discussion, I must confess to be a bit saddened by it (especially with open source alternatives).

                                                                                                                      Regardless, congratulations once again on the new design!

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                                                                                                                        I’m fine with having that discussion, but the short version is: we evaluated a lot of chats and they ranged from functionally broken to lacking features that we need (most notably: moderation). For example, when we evaluated it, Zulip had some very glaring flaws making it hard to use for open projects. (Zulip fixed those in 1.9)

                                                                                                                        Discord fares surprisingly well there. I’m not happy with the state, but there’s almost no good FOSS tools with a thought through moderations story that work well.

                                                                                                                        I have a very rough writeup of our experiences there: https://yakshav.es/from-the-rider-down/

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                                                                                                                      It’s already been discussed to death. And the answer is: yes, there is an official shift from IRC to Discord. irc.mozilla.org#rust is probably never going away, but having built-in logging and persistence is a big enough deal to recommend it as the default.

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                                                                                                                        Matrix/Riot also does these things. Over the last year they have made it a whole lot faster as well.

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                                                                                                                      I hope they change the tag line: “Rust: The programming language that empowers everyone to become a systems programmer.”

                                                                                                                      In my experience, “systems programmer” is used to mean “I write programs that are hard, so I can look down on people who do mere ‘scripting’ programming”

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                                                                                                                        I think Wikipedia sums it well:

                                                                                                                        […] application programming aims to produce software which provides services to the user directly (e.g. word processor), whereas systems programming aims to produce software and software platforms which provide services to other software, are performance constrained, or both […]

                                                                                                                        Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_programming

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                                                                                                                          I’ve just now realized that to me, “systems programming” is basically equivalent to “not having to care about unicode”.

                                                                                                                          I really like this.

                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                            So an alternative to find would not have to deal with filenames or directory names that contain Unicode?

                                                                                                                            Or if you’re writing a database engine, you don’t have to support Unicode?

                                                                                                                            I’m being a tiny bit sarcastic, but it’s also interesting to investigate the boundary between “user” and “systems” programming.

                                                                                                                            Edit wording

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                                                                                                                              It’s certainly a matter of perspective to a large degree (one developer’s platform is another developer’s application), but from where I sit, yes, find, databases and such are definitely more in the “applications” direction.

                                                                                                                              The “systems programming” I deal with consists of things like filesystems (please please please don’t shove unicode in there), block storage layers, thread scheduling, memory allocators, etc.

                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                The “systems programming” I deal with consists of things like filesystems (please please please don’t shove unicode in there)

                                                                                                                                Hah, doesn’t one of the new macOS file systems do this? IIRC, they require valid UTF-8 and I think even do normalization. With that said, I am not knowledgeable about file systems, so I don’t actually know at which level of abstraction these rules are implemented.

                                                                                                                                Anyway, I love Unicode. A significant fraction of the work I’ve done in Rust land has involved Unicode in one form or another. But my area of interest is text search, so that makes sense. Whether that’s “systems” or not, I dunno. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                  Hah, doesn’t one of the new macOS file systems do this?

                                                                                                                                  I haven’t really been paying too much attention to Apple recently, though it certainly seems believable – their filesystems have been case-insensitive since time immemorial, so madness of that sort was already well-established there…

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                                                                                                                          I thought this was a really great description of both the ambiguity of the term and its origin.

                                                                                                                          http://willcrichton.net/notes/systems-programming/

                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                            Thanks for sharing. This article does a good job of exploring why this is such an ill-defined term. In particular I find the early pre-Osterhout definitions to make much more sense than the modern usage. His dichotomy really seems to have set the discourse back significantly.

                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                              Huh, I thought the definitive treatise on the nature of systems programming was this.

                                                                                                                            2. 6

                                                                                                                              We’re not fully happy with the tag line currently and happily take suggestions. “systems programming” being a fuzzy term is one of the problems. The spirit is definitely what we want, but if someone were to find a better way to phrase it, I’d be very happy.

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                                                                                                                                My translation of “systems programmer” is “we don’t do GUIs”. ;)

                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                  Yet many GUIs outside of the web context are written in systems programming languages :)

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                                                                                                                                    Sounds like rust alright.

                                                                                                                                  2. 4

                                                                                                                                    I like the spirit of the tagline. Systems programming is a real thing, it’s genuinely difficult to do correctly - and Rust is helping make that situation better, so that more people can write less buggy systems code.

                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                      This is cynical, although sometimes true.

                                                                                                                                      1. -6

                                                                                                                                        Systems programming is genuinely difficult in a way that, frankly, GUI programming just isn’t.

                                                                                                                                        1. 10

                                                                                                                                          If you just switch “GUI programming” and “Systems Programming”, this statement checks out, too. Modern GUI programming with backends and networks is a complexity beast. Add translation and such on top and it becomes incredibly hard.

                                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                                        Wow, the new website is stunning. Those underlines are so nice I want to steal them for my own website. The website honestly makes me want to try rust again and I’ll have some time to do that over the christmas holidays.

                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                          Thanks <3

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                                                                                                                                          There’s some food for future underhanded contests in this.

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                                                                                                                                            This may be a side note and even off-topic, but I find it quite interesting to see the distribution between teams in this document. Interestingly, Google Developer Advocates are usually very outspoken, but none of them are on the list. SRE is a group that is not that public facing (they have a public profile though) and there’s quite some names on the list.

                                                                                                                                            I have no conclusion to draw, but I dig watching things like this.

                                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                                              Liz Fong-Jones listed her title on signing asa developer advocate, so that’s one I think.

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                                                                                                                                              Such irony in the title here–“open source” is not about you; it’s a movement to hijack the free software movement and turn it into something a company can profit from, riding on free software goodwill and stripping the political aspects that are hard to reconcile with shameless capitalism.

                                                                                                                                              I don’t think it’s what Rich meant here, but it does nicely serve to underscore the vast gulf between the oss and free software camps; if you are in software because you want to make the world a better place, move right along.

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                                                                                                                                                it’s a movement to hijack the free software movement

                                                                                                                                                There’s a problem with this statement, it doesn’t apply to me.

                                                                                                                                                When I was open-sourcing my project I wasn’t joining any movement. I didn’t sign any contract. I use the words “open source” in a plain sense: this is a source code that someone can get and use according to the posted license. I’m totally fine with any company making profit off of this code. No company ever indoctrinated me into thinking this, and I deliberately chose BSD license over GPL exactly to not having to be associated with Free Software movement (I don’t hate it, I just didn’t want to). Yes, for real. People like me exist.

                                                                                                                                                What I’m saying is, we already have a term meaning “open source + a particular ideology”. It’s Free Software. Please don’t try to appropriate “open source” to mean anything more than “available source code”. And no, I don’t really care what OSI thinks about this “term”. It’s their idea, not mine. I need some words to describe what I’m doing, too.

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                                                                                                                                                  When I was open-sourcing my project I wasn’t joining any movement

                                                                                                                                                  That’s exactly the difference between the “free software” movement and Open Source. You made @technomancy’s point for him.

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                                                                                                                                                    It’s contradicting the framing that he’s somehow been duped out of believing in the fsf’s ideology by an open source movement.

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                                                                                                                                                    P.S. In fact, there was a time when “Free Software” also wasn’t associated with not letting companies profit from it. Here’s a classic Mark Pilgrim on this: https://web.archive.org/web/20091102023737/http://diveintomark.org/archives/2009/10/19/the-point

                                                                                                                                                    Part of choosing a Free license for your own work is accepting that people may use it in ways you disapprove of.

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                                                                                                                                                      Check Selling Free Software from 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                        I came here to share this link. the GPL, and free software, was never about gratis, was never about not paying for software. It has always been about liberty and the freedom to control one’s own software.

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                                                                                                                                                        2009 is classic? Am I old?

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                                                                                                                                                          “Classic” in a sense “explains well”, has nothing to do with being old :-)

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                                                                                                                                                        Just because you use a term doesn’t mean you get to define it. Saying “I don’t care what OSI thinks or why the term was invented” seems pretty strange to me… it’s their term and has a history, like it or not.

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                                                                                                                                                          What word should I use if I publish source code so people can use it but don’t care about furthering the cultural revolution?

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                                                                                                                                                            “Open source”.

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                                                                                                                                                              Billionaire. In a historical interview, that’s what the CEO of Apple believed he’d become if a lot of things lined up, one being getting a whole, networking stack for free from BSD developers. The other thing he envisions is them begging for money at some point so their projects don’t close down. He bragged his main competition would be contributing their fixes back since they got themselves stuck with la licence de la révolution. Attendees were skeptical about such a one-sided deal going down.

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                                                                                                                                                              No :-) The only way a natural languages is defined is through use, and the most common usage becomes a definition. OSI didn’t make this term theirs by simply publishing their definition, they just joined the game and have as much weight in it as every single user of the word.

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                                                                                                                                                                True, but also like it or not language evolves over time (always to the chagrin of many). This is not unique to technology or English. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what either OSI or /u/isagalaev thinks, society at large makes the definitions.

                                                                                                                                                                Having said that, if you step outside of the FOSS filter bubble, it seems pretty clear to me that society leans towards /u/isagalaev’s definition.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Also, as a sensible dictionary would, Merriam-Webster defines both current interpretations of it: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/open-source

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                                                                                                                                                                we already have a term meaning “open source + a particular ideology”. It’s Free Software.

                                                                                                                                                                You can’t remove politics from this question; the act of pretending you can is in itself a political choice to support the status quo.

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                                                                                                                                                                  You can remove “politics” from open source, and that is precisely what open source has done.

                                                                                                                                                                  The term open source can be operationally defined (i.e., descriptive, constructed, and demonstrable). From Wikipedia, citing the book “Understanding Open Source & Free Software Licensing.” (Though feel free to use Merriam Webster or the OED as a substitute): “source code is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.”

                                                                                                                                                                  The license terms are selected that most parsimoniously accomplish the stated definition. (i.e., make it possible for the stated definition to become externally correspondent and existentially possible). The fewest number of rules (formula, statements, decisions) possible to accomplish the work–producing a limited number of legal operations (rights, grants, privileges) that can be fully accounted for.

                                                                                                                                                                  It is the deflationary nature of the process that removes “politics.” Making the license commensurable and testable while removing suggestion, loading, framing, or overloading. BSD/MIT are small and shrinking, whereas GPL 2/3 are large and growing. That’s the difference.

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                                                                                                                                                                    “source code is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.”

                                                                                                                                                                    You can still get patent sued for that due to laws paid for by lobbyists. The effects of politicians on what we can and can’t do with open-source mean it’s inherently political. The people who say they want its benefits with no interest in politics or whose licenses don’t address it are still involved in a political game: they’re just not players in it.

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                                                                                                                                                                      I’m not sure why do you think I’m trying to “remove politics”. Of course I do have some political view on this, however vague it might be. This is totally beside the point. The point is that I don’t want to proclaim/discuss my political views every time I want to say that the code is available. It’s a completely valid desire.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Why BSD license over public domain? The latter makes the source code more “available”, does it not?

                                                                                                                                                                      (If you wonder how I feel about the GPL, check my repos.)

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                                                                                                                                                                        The latter makes the source code more “available”, does it not?

                                                                                                                                                                        No. In jurisdictions that don’t recognise public domain (e.g. France) and in which authors cannot give up their copyright, giving it to the public domain is meaningless and it’s as if the code has no free license at all. It’s the same as “all rights reserved”.

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                                                                                                                                                                          That’s very interesting. Would folks in such jurisdictions be interested in working together with others to reform copyright law? Perhaps among .. other things?

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                                                                                                                                                                            Why? It’s a different branch of copyright law and the idea of authorship being something you cannot give up is fundamental to those. You can only perpetually license.

                                                                                                                                                                            CC0 is a great license to use in those cases, btw.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Why?

                                                                                                                                                                              One reason being that some people think copyright, or perhaps even more generally, intellectual property, is unethical. Another reason could be a desire for a single simple concept of “public domain,” perhaps similar to what we have in the US.

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                                                                                                                                                                          I like the idea of retaining an exclusive right to the project’s name, BSD is explicit about it.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Companies are profiting massively from both. The License Zero author figured out the reason is the FOSS authors focused on distribution methods instead of results. That’s why Prosperity straight up says commercial use like many non-free licenses mention. The other one says any change has to be submitted back.

                                                                                                                                                                        The license needs to explicitly mention them making money or sharing all changes to achieve what you’re describing. That plus some patent stuff. The “free” licenses trying to block commercial exploitation are neither believably free nor stopping commercial exploitation after companies like IBM (massive capitalist) bet the farm on them. I mean, the results should prove they dont work for such goals but people keep pushing old ways to achieve them.

                                                                                                                                                                        Nope. Just reinforcing existing systems of exploitation by likes of IBM. We need new licenses that send more money and/or code improvements back.

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                                                                                                                                                                          It should not be the job of a license enforced by copyright to extract rents. That’s the playbook we are fleeing.

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                                                                                                                                                                            ““open source” is not about you; it’s a movement to hijack the free software movement and turn it into something a company can profit from”

                                                                                                                                                                            The commenter wrote as if they expected whatever license or philosophy was in use to prevent companies from using the software for profit or with exploitation central focus. Several companies are making billions leveraging FOSS software. One even lobbies against software freedom using patent law since suits won’t affect it. So, if the goal is stopping that and spreading software freedom, then the so-called “free” licenses aren’t working. Quite the opposite effect moving billions into the hands of the worst, lobbying companies imaginable.

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                                                                                                                                                                          I just don’t see “open-source” being an hijack of “free software” for corporate purposes. Why would corporate care, they can exploit the free labor of free software just as much, the politics are not visible in the final software product. If anything, it seems like the social goals of free software have been diluted by other programmers who like the technical side of it, but neither care or agree about the politics.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Why would corporate care, they can exploit the free labor of free software just as muc

                                                                                                                                                                            Depends on the market. If it’s software they sell directly, the copyleft requirement means they have to give up their changes. Those changes might be generating the customers. They might also be causing lock-in. Better for them to keep their changes secret.

                                                                                                                                                                            Your point remains if it’s anything that lets them dodge the part about returning changes, esp SaaS.

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                                                                                                                                                                              I just don’t see “open-source” being an hijack of “free software” for corporate purposes.

                                                                                                                                                                              It’s not really a matter of opinion. That hijacking is exactly what happened in 1998. The fact that today you forgot that this is what happened means that it worked: you stopped thinking about free software, as the OSI intended to happen in 1998.

                                                                                                                                                                              OSI was created to say “open source, open source, open source” until everyone thought it was a natural term, with the goal of attracting corporate interests. They even called it an advertising campaign for free software. Their words, not mine.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Ethics are inseparable from technology, since technology enables and inhibits actions, which are subject to ethical consideration; ergo, the creation of technology is an set of actions subject to ethical judgements.

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                                                                                                                                                                              I’d go even further than that, attempting to exclude “ethics”, broadly construed, has helped to enable a social environment within technology circles that has legitimated a great deal of what people are now rightly reacting to, the surveillance, the effects the brain of using gambling machines as a design template for websites, the unwillingness of corporations to take any responsibility whatsoever for the effects that their products have on society at large, Uber (all of it), and on and on.

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                                                                                                                                                                                I agree with both of you. On the other hand, I also kinda see the point of wanting a space that’s focused in technical aspects, and understand OP’s fear of ethical/political discourse dominating this forum. And in the other other hand, I also feel that not speaking about the ethics of technologies, and actively discouraging this kind of discussion, is, in and of itself, a way of speaking about it, agreeing with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                So, yeah, that’s hard. I got no solutions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Regarding the “fear of ethical/political discourse dominating this forum”—I understand, but we wouldn’t have to have all of these discussions if people would just stop being unethical :-) The more discussions we have now on this topic, the fewer we’ll need to have in the future. But if we don’t talk about it then, as you point out, things are only going to get worse.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    I think there’s a bit of a difference between discussing the ethics of a company and aggressively attacking a person.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The main top comment raises some points and actually encourages discussion, which admittedly doesn’t really happen in that thread. A large portion of the top upvoted comments are people chiming in and (essentially) saying “me too”. The top comment responding to a maintainer is incredibly aggressive towards the maintainer who stepped forward, only tangentially relates to the parent comment, is arguably a personal attack against that person and discourages discussion through the tone. Yet it’s more upvoted than the technical comments below.

                                                                                                                                                                                    In addition. it’s easy to forget that there are people on the other side of these usernames. It reminds me quite a bit of This is Phil Fish, a case study on how people can associate people with something larger, sometimes in damaging ways. It’s not quite the same, but I see similar parallels in how the community tends to treat employees of certain companies (yes, like Palantir… but Google also comes to mind).

                                                                                                                                                                                    I’d like to see more comments that encourage discussion, like the most upvoted top-level comment, and less comments saying “me too”, “I agree with this”, or borderline attacking the poster, like the most upvoted response to the maintainer.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      The more discussions we have now on this topic, the fewer we’ll need to have in the future. But if we don’t talk about it then, as you point out, things are only going to get worse.

                                                                                                                                                                                      That’s an interesting theory. I haven’t seen any evidence to support it on any of the other discussion forums I’ve used, but I suppose it might be true somewhere. I think friendlysock’s take is more accurate: by encouraging (tolerating? normalizing?) aggressive and reflexive positions on non-technical issues, we will get more of them here, not less. And eventually, the “bad money” will drive out the good, just like it does everywhere.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Indeed - I think we have a plethora of examples of politics taking over, and few (none?) of political discussion settling debate so that everyone can move on.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        The more discussions we have no on this topic, the fewer we’ll need to have in the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I disagree with this in so many ways. We cannot possibly come to some end resolution where everyone agrees on a certain set of ethics, and even if that magically happened, we cannot all agree on the best way to act upon those ethics. Political conversation already permeates way too much of society. I don’t need to see it in a forum for technical discussion. If we’re going to try to think of ways for technology to be abused, we’re not going to produce anything. Further, I think we’re totally dismissing all the great things that same technology has done and can continue to do because it can be abused. If someone wants feedback on their submission, I don’t personally want to see politically-oriented discussion around it in this particular forum.

                                                                                                                                                                                        If the broader group of folks here wants this to become a political-friendly abyss, I’m fine with stepping away. But I don’t get that feeling right now.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        This is basically my opinion, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                        (I haven’t posted more in this an the other meta threads this week because I’ve been very busy starting a new job, but as I’m catching up today I’ve really appreciated all the thoughtful discussion exploring these questions that don’t have easy answers.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                      I think you have a point here that is both truth and lacking utility, but may be getting upvotes because hey, who wouldn’t upvote ethics in technology?

                                                                                                                                                                                      Here are some of the practical issues with supporting debates about “ethics”.

                                                                                                                                                                                      First, what do we mean by “ethics”?

                                                                                                                                                                                      Are we just wanting to talk about right and wrong? That’s often a matter of aesthetics. When I was born, it was pretty commonly held that homosexual acts were Evil, that psychoactive drug usage was Corrupt, and that democracy was unquestionably Good. None of those things are unerringly true anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                      You might say “But friendlysock, those are matters of morals, as opposed to organized systems of beliefs that are analyzed in the context of practicing agents!”, and I would agree. That being the case, what is the point of having discussions that end up going basically:

                                                                                                                                                                                      • “You’re immoral!”
                                                                                                                                                                                      • “No, you’re immoral!”
                                                                                                                                                                                      • “You both act in clear hypocrisy of your professed morals!”

                                                                                                                                                                                      That discussion leaves everybody angry, takes up a lot of space, and doesn’t teach anybody anything. Worse, it breaks the operating regime of the site, because people will inevitably just blindly upvote the folks whose aesthetic matches theirs, and downvote or flag those that don’t–or worse, devolve into namecalling.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Okay, well, what about big-E Ethics?

                                                                                                                                                                                      So, we skip out on thinly-veiled callout threads and we’re just gonna limit ourselves to talking about big-E Ethics. Academic/philosopher stuff like meta-ethics and normative ethics and subtopics like utilitarianism and virtue ethics and state consequentialism and so forth.

                                                                                                                                                                                      And those are really fun topics. We have problems with those as the basis for subthreads though:

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Hardcore philosophy (despite our having a tag by that name, since that usage is looser) is off-topic.
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Most users (myself included!) are completely underskilled to talk big-E Ethics without a lot of clarifying back-and-forth and education in threads. Even assuming we have the skill to do all of that in a subthread (we don’t) and that we avoid falling back into moralizing (we won’t), such conversations suck all of the air out of the room for the technical discussion. That Palantir thread had us scrolling to the very bottom to get anything involving code or tech.
                                                                                                                                                                                      • We’re gonna end up having the same discussions over and over again, as the big-E Ethics questions are, rather famously, undecidable.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Okay, fine, what about professional ethics?

                                                                                                                                                                                      Sure! If people want to talk about how a given thing violates professional ethics, then I think that is healthy. Here is the ACM Code of Ethics. Use that as a starting point in a subthread.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Note though that we still don’t have professional organizations in the sense of, say, Professional Engineers. Our profession isn’t organized enough for that. So, talking about “professional” ethics is kinda hard.

                                                                                                                                                                                      ~

                                                                                                                                                                                      Overall, I just don’t think that the “ethics” discussions are what people are actually after here. I think people want to callout and shit on other folks, and that they want to show to their friends solidarity in an aesthetic. This damages one of the only good venues for safe technical discussion on the ’net today.

                                                                                                                                                                                      And I won’t stand for that.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        I would, gently, point out that adjucating morals to aesthetics (the study of beauty, and of which the current post-Romantic admits a separate aesthetic for each individual) is not a stance that is particularly admirable.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Simply keeping “Lobsters about tech” is a big E ethics decision, with ramifications that ripple out.

                                                                                                                                                                                        If you want to demand that people treat other people well, that is a stable ethical choice that is supportable and relatively decidable.

                                                                                                                                                                                        ~

                                                                                                                                                                                        But to be clear, working for Palantir - or other major enabler of violence & repression that generates widespread sideeye, is both a technical and an ethical choice; pointing this out and pushing back against consuming technical material from such an enabler seems perfectly reasonable.

                                                                                                                                                                                        We can debate whether working for Palantir is ethical - it probably also enables benefits to LEOs working complex cases and addressing real social harm. Many times on other social media sites, employees of ethically tangled companies will comment and discuss the complexity and reality of working in these environments. There is a very real debate, it’s not an open and shut thing where some group of activists come in and screams.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I reiterate: technology and ethics are intertwingled. While some contexts are more neutral than others, very few are pure neutral.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          @pnathan I didn’t want to wade into this muck, but you seem genuine. In my mind is not whether debates about ethics is good or bad, but rather what is lobste.rs for? There are PLENTY of places on this big internet to get on a soapbox and yell about whatever gets your goat. I want a quiet corner where I can just read about technical things. Code, decisions behind code, some PLT, some math and the occasional bit of humor. Perhaps the people here saying, well Kaushik, its time to go away somewhere else because that’s not what lobste.rs is for any more, and I will join the stragglers as we exit out of yet another refuge inundated by the loud and obnoxious soap box crowd.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            I’m 100% with you here. I see way too much soap boxing and bickering pretty much everywhere else on the internet. This was a safe haven for technical discussion without the political theater. If it’s going to become that, I’ll be happy to leave and try to form yet another community where we are trying to avoid this kind of stuff.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              leave and try to form yet another community where we are trying to avoid this kind of stuff

                                                                                                                                                                                              I’ll wager that ethical questions will inevitably follow you there, as they are inextricably part of the human experience, whether or not the primary topic is tech.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                I’m not trying to avoid them entirely, I just want a forum for technical discussion. Not everything has to be polluted with other topics and agendas

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  You might find the more focused discussion you seek in a special-interest forum. General-interest fora will attract general topics of conversation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lobsters has been that forum for me until recently.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      That’s interesting. I hear many voices in this thread expressing the same. I never saw this website as something like that, I just saw it as a place where some relatively niche computing topics are aggregated.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        You’re also relatively new here compared to some of us, so that probably feeds into it. The site has grown quite a bit since I joined.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was reading this website for a long while before I got an invitation, but it is fair to say my account history is relatively new. When I started reading, most posts seemed to get an average of 1 or 2 comments. It’s hard for me to reconcile this—some folks are lamenting that recent discussions are not in keeping with the historical tone of the site, but the site has been historically silent on most topics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Try looking at it from a different perspective. Perhaps the absolute level of good quality comments hasn’t moved too much, but perhaps the absolute level of low quality comments has increased. If that’s true, it increases the signal-to-noise ratio and can lead to the “we used to have more good quality content here” observation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was being very generous with the comment count. Even today, when I posted that comment, half of the front page articles had zero comments. Perhaps the signal level is just too low to begin with. Maybe there’s no consensus on what the signal is.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              you seem genuine

                                                                                                                                                                                              That’s one of the nicest things someone not my wife has said to me for some time. :) Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                              My basic thought is that I also want a corner where we can seriously talk about highly technical things, but we should be aware and also talk about the broader ramifications of our work, because we have the technical background to get the implications of our work and be correct about how it works, and to talk about the ethical implications of how a specific capability works/doesn’t work (whereas I have deep suspicions of an arbitrary op-ed columnist whinging about tech and begging for regulation).

                                                                                                                                                                                              To ask for a soapbox free zone seems completely ok - to ask for an ethics-free zone is an ethical choice that selects for specific social choices (as non-obvious as that may seem). To be specific: I’m not sure discussing the ethics of a new compiler gets us anywhere, but if its produced by Dr. Evilheart Murder Enterprises, maybe we need to discuss if using it supports D.E.M.E., and if we can redeem the technology from its production in the context of D,E.M.E. I don’t think that this is some lefty social justice agenda I’m asking for…. Maybe I’m wrong.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              I acknowledge the intertwingling, abstractly. But it seems you’re not addressing friendlysock’s actual concern. Is an announcement thread by a new user who happens to be the maintainer of an open source project an appropriate place to have the “very real debate” about whether working for that person’s employer is an ethical choice? When a commenter on that post engages in a blatant personal attack and is rewarded with upvotes aplenty, is the “very real debate” being furthered?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                I would say so: it’s an opportunity for the software developers of Palatir to make a case that they are acting in an ethical fashion, that the world is complex and they are producing a net good. When I worked for a Famously Bad Reputation company, we were encouraged to defend the company. This would have definitely been a place where the maintainer could have defended themselves - if company policy allowed, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                One of the interesting bits of social psych is conformity matters. If the general community shuns X group, to the point where its a permanent black mark on the record generating firings/no-hirings and it’s not something anyone is comfortable around at church, marrying family members, etc, then the X group diminishes into the fringe. Whether you are conservative or liberal, you wind up having a conformity and a social order. I’m not personally sure where to draw that line and place the mark, but Palantir is a popular target for placing that mark.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                I would, gently, point out that adjucating morals to aesthetics (the study of beauty, and of which the current post-Romantic admits a separate aesthetic for each individual) is not a stance that is particularly admirable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Why not? There’s a huge variation in morality within our own culture, let alone looking across cultures. You can find people that believe that it’s immoral for two people with the same groin-endianness to get married, and others who think that it’s immoral for to accumulate a large amount of money. You have people who think that allowing dictators to abuse their people is immoral, and others who think that intervention is a bigger evil. You have people who think that it’s important to protect the freedom of users with copyleft licenses, and people who think that copyleft immorally restricts commercial use of software. You have fights between which supposedly divinely inspired book written thousands of years ago by uneducated sheep herders/traders/warriors/… is the primary authority on how to live your life. The list goes on, and all of them have people who believe one thing or the other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The shifting scene of prevailing ethical thought really does make it more like aesthetics than people are often comfortable admitting. Yes, it has longer term effects on people’s lives, and yes, it’s got some underlying principles, but it’s certainly not some sort of fixed beacon of truth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Why do you think that there is a universal set of ethics that people subscribe to? And if you don’t, do you really want this site to be either the battleground for deciding this, or a community of yes-men who boringly signal that yes, they are indeed a part of the in-group?

                                                                                                                                                                                                There are lots of valid and interesting discussions to have on these topics, but to me, they detract from lobste.rs.

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                The book that revived virtue ethics as a viable project, MacIntyre’s After Virtue, points out how (and explains why) contemporary ethical debates have a peculiarly shrill and interminable character.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a weird use of “aesthetics”. I don’t really know what you’re trying to say.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    I read “aesthetics” as, roughly, “something that a group of people has decided to call ‘basic human decency’, with the various external trappings this entails”.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yet I somehow suspect if I ask “What are the ethical implications of creating a webassembly backend for ocaml?” that I won’t receive quite as many upvotes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                    If the answer to the question “What is it built for?” is “for missile guidance systems”, we are in a different territory pretty quickly, though! Nothing technology lives without context.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    To turn this into something more tangible: when DARPA invested around 10 million for https://c2rust.com/, it definitely raised some eyebrows and sparked a couple of discussions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                      ARPA/military were behind the Internet, GPS, Tor, and (via defense contractors) majority of contributions to Linux kernel. Yet, most people discuss them without warnings or ethical debates in threads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      It’s just specific things that are also talking points in liberal media.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                        You are making it seem like these things have not been discussed, which is definitely not the case. Also, we’re not liberal media, we’re a community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Most of the statements read like they were pulled out of the liberal media. Pop-culture politics. People that actually care about popular politics here, say inclusion of under-represented groups, would have people from those groups, esp women, in the main teams (eg Rust compiler/libraries), be submitting work from such underrepresented people here to Lobsters instead of white/asian males, linking to write-ups by the same in the comments, and so on. There’s just one or two people doing that consistently off the top of my head.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Inclusive politics here mainly equals writing comments and language policing to such people, not actually highlighting work by or bringing in underrepresented. Aka what they’d do if it really mattered. Same with employers, eco-friendliness, etc where someone could call out an OP in the majority of threads every day about the ethical ramifications of what they’re submitting. They only do on specific, popular, talking points, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I make an exception for you since your community work probably does a lot of good in inclusion. A lot of good period. On Lobsters, though, most people voting for prioritizing politics for social justice certainly aren’t boosting minorities or even ethical suppliers. So, I call BS on it really mattering to them past ego value from social signaling, virtue and shaming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                        So if somebody builds a webassembly backend for missile guidance and puts it on github, is it ethical to use it for protein folding research? Or is it forever tainted?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                          That’s a different question, and yes, it’s an interesting one. It’s also not like things on Github are just there. They still have a maintainer, a hosting organisation, and a leadership.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thats a cute non-sequitur, given that no one is inserting ethical implications into things like that. Seeing as this thread was sparked by the discussion around the ethical implications of software labor being used to further the work of a surveillance contractor, its not just a worthless message-board retort, its actively muddying the waters around issues that are inseparable from ethical questions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. 18

                                                                                                                                                                                                        You’ve got to go about asking these questions in a way that actually enables the OP to respond. Instead, we got a massively passive-aggressive jab at the OP’s company:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I guess it may be possible to work at a seedy company and still do good stuff […] Regardless, thanks for releasing this as free software.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        After which, the top commenter is hailed as a hero, and, to no one’s surprise, the OP didn’t respond.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A reword that might have actually elicited a response might have started with “Thanks for releasing this as free software!” rather than the “yeah, your company sucks, but thanks anyway” angle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                          the creation of technology is an set of actions subject to ethical judgements

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Assuming that it is true - is it possible to have a small place (e.g. lobste.rs) which is for discussing technology without ethical implications and all the rest of the net for discussing whatever you want (also ethical aspects of technology)? Is this something you can imagine being possible or do you think that such place can’t exist? (this is a serious question)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 32

                                                                                                                                                                                                            That’s certainly an important question.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think that it’s certainly possible to mention technology without explicitly mentioning ethics. I also think that engaging in that way is an ethical position. You can separate them at the surface level of discussion, but not in the substance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            That said, I can certainly imagine a community in which technology is discussed but ethics is never explicitly mentioned. I would not want to be part of such a community; I would find it deeply unsettling. I do think that some people might like it, and there are a variety of reasons for that and I wouldn’t want to make assumptions about any particular person’s reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think the problem with ethical discussions on a technical forum is that there’s not really a shared basis for those discussions. We might have a bunch of members from various religions and cultures who subscribe to widely different ideological frameworks and ethical principles. These different backgrounds are likely to be incommensurate, incompatible, and irresolvable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              In that way it’s similar to discussions like “Are static types good or evil?” or the famous editor wars—so called “religious flame wars” which are known to ruin communities if left to fester.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              So indeed it is a kind of ethical decision about the norms of the community—whether ethical claims and disagreements ought to be encouraged in comment threads. There are pretty good reasons against.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Let’s say I’m a committed socialist or communist or anarchist. There are many such people who are programmers. Now I have very good reason to enter threads about commercial activity and ask the involved people to justify their clearly immoral participation in the tyrannical, plutocratic, deeply unjust system of capitalism. I would of course encounter a bunch of dirty capitalist apologists trying to argue against my ethical position… and we could go on for a long time… almost certainly to the detriment of the community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                “I think the problem with ethical discussions on a technical forum is that there’s not really a shared basis for those discussions. We might have a bunch of members from various religions and cultures who subscribe to widely different ideological frameworks and ethical principles. These different backgrounds are likely to be incommensurate, incompatible, and irresolvable.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                You nailed it. That isn’t hypothetical: it happens in every political thread. The ending, minus rare exceptions, is everyone ends up believing what they already believed with some shunning their opponents in some way. Lobsters doesn’t work for political discussion that’s about actually changing people’s mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Of course, many of you are starting with the foundation that people wanting politics want a political discussion. They mostly don’t as evidenced by their comments in such threads. If you’re curious, I just described here the evolution of politics and behavioral patterns on this site from when I first came to where we’re at now. Given the same environment, political discussion is and will continue to be impossible because the dominant group intends for it to be. They want compliance and conversion, not discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don’t necessarily know that changing people’s minds should be the goal, but I also don’t know that it’s impossible. I think you’re describing what happens when everyone reacts defensively. It’s indeed not possible to change someone’s mind if they aren’t willing to open up and have a real conversation, so I wish the world in general would be more open to interacting in ways that aren’t so resistant to real dialogue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I’m an optimist, and I believe that when people try, they can engage with the goal of at least leaving each other with something to think about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I’ll suggest this (mainly tongue-in-cheek) but it might be a good solution: for every submission provide another link next to ‘reply’ called ‘ethics-reply.’ The links go to two separate discussion areas. That way, people can dip into the tech or ethics discussions as they like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                If such a place did exist, I think you’d have trouble finding a lot of people who would want to hang out there. I’ll just jump immediately to the most extreme possible example: if someone posted an article about the technology used by the Nazis to organize the Holocaust, but discussing the attendant ethics was strictly forbidden, would you be happy participating in that discussion? Would you want to spend a lot of time talking to other people who would be happy participating in that discussion?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 14

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  if someone posted an article about the technology used by the Nazis to organize the Holocaust, but discussing the attendant ethics was strictly forbidden, would you be happy participating in that discussion?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am a jew who was raised by holocaust survivors. My answer is yes. In fact, I think it’s the only way that one could have a discussion about the technology used by the Nazis that wasn’t immediately dragged off topic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And, honestly, an ethical discussion would either be abhorrent or boring, since a vibrant discussion implies a difference of opinion, and anyone who has significant differences in belief with me on the ethics of systematic mass murder is someone that I don’t expect to have a productive discussion with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 12

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes to both, to be honest. I did a bit of research for a point the other day, and something occurred to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Technology, especially computing, is all about solving problems at scale and efficiently. For the most part of the 19th and 20th centuries, the domains that actually had the scale to justify theoretical work and practical development tended overwhelmingly towards things like military applications (standing armies tending to be some of the largest organized groups around) and demographics/census/taxcollecting work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For better or worse, note that IBM was really good at tabulating census data, something that the Nazis took advantage of. I personally would be happy talking about techniques for tabulating that data and managing it, in hopes that it could be applied to more positive uses. Similarly, I’d be happy to learn about rocketry from von Braun, even though most of what he learned he learned by dropping explosives on British civilians.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Let’s take the specifics. Is Palantir stuff that remarkable to be worth the inevitable fallout in the comments and personal ethical compromises? Is it really that seminal and groundbreaking?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is a dilemma when we talk about say an SS officer who also happened to run the US Moon programme. But Palantir is adtech’s meaner sibling, what is there that makes it worth picking the turd pile?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The drop in the level of technical discussion is the issue, not the company being discussed. I’d prefer to let posts on unethical companies die in silence, rather than make this site a worse place to discuss technology.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Another reason is highlighting the bad gives you less time to create the good. Most people that care can look up a company to see if there’s anything messed up. The bad or at least going with the flow are also the majority. If we’re talking companies, I’d rather people put more effort into highlighting ethical ones with useful tech or products. Basically, anything that can be a fit here on technical grounds with them also mentioning in a comment that the person, company, product, etc is good/beneficial for (reasons here). Maybe they mention some bad examples with it if trying to shame companies. Just optimize to promote more tech and examples of public benefit over just calling out bad companies who are the perpetual default.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Easy example: Prgmr.com over Digital Ocean, AWS, Google, or Azure if fits use case due to ‘straight-forward offerings, great service, some nice people, and freely hosting an excellent site for deep, technical discussion.” The submission might even be about something else entirely that’s merely hosted on the ethical product/service. Then, they add a quick note about it that barely distracts from the focus on technical content. Just all flows together for the reader.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. 8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          the inevitable fallout in the comments

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The fallout is not “inevitable” - it is not a force majeure. Actual, specific, individuals CHOOSE to make it about the “ethics”. You’re asking people to appease these individuals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Would you be also ok to discuss methods of performing deadly medical experiments on people with Nazi concentration camps staff? Would you be ok to advise them how to improve the scale and speed? Would you still want to keep such discussions ethics-free? How about diacussing effectiveness of guns with the Zodiac Killer? Or advising Ted Kaczynski on bombs?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          edit: Please note my intention here is not to seed outrage; I’m sincerely interested in your answer, as I find it hard to imagine setting really no ethics limits, so I’m curious to gauge where would you actually set them? Or would you really want no limits?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I’ll pick on your first example, because I don’t see benefit in addressing the others (I read you as making the same category of point, with those added for emphasis).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Would you be also ok to discuss methods of performing deadly medical experiments on people with Nazi concentration camps staff? Would you be ok to advise them how to improve the scale and speed?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Let me turn that around on you:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Would you prefer they do them inefficiently, if you knew they were going to do them regardless? Would you prefer that the innocent lives lost in the nominal science of these experiments be done in vain because somebody screwed up their data collection? Would you prefer that, for the same data, they use extra prisoners because they suck at statistical power analysis?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don’t support immoral behavior, such as mass murder and torture. I do recognize that whether such things are legally or ethically permissible (again, not morally) is something that transcends individual opinion, and that where those acts fall is a function of the zeitgeist of the times. Sloppy engineering, science, and math will always be sloppy, aesthetics of the time be damned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We can’t get to identifying and fixing/discouraging/pillorying that sloppy behavior if we can’t engage with it. We can’t even get close enough to try and reclaim those lost souls if we can’t engage with them on (nominally objective) material civilly.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the interesting reply! So, I think in shortest words I could express what I think about this the following way: I would indeed prefer for them to do this ineffectively - I’d say that is the principle behind sabotage. As far as I know, sabotage works. And that’s indeed what I’d hope to be able to say I’m doing against actions I believe to be significantly unethical. (Though trying to keep my own integrity in means employed to that end.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I’m not sure sabotage always works the way one hopes. When you destroy the results of human experimentation, the data is recreated by repeating the experiments on a new set of humans. That seems like a bad outcome for those involved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think the problem is we too often define success as hurting the bad people, and yes sabotage hurts them, but we too should consider the collateral damage of our actions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It’s not about hurting bad people. It’s about making their evil work harder and less efficient at actually hurting good people, while also trying to convince evildoers to not do the evil in the first place, and preferably do good instead and thus become good people. If doing evil is easy for them, it won’t make them do less of it, but rather more of it. They will always invent new experiments to do on a new set of humans anyway. Appeasement policy did not work on the onset of WW2. A bully must be stopped, not let continue the bullying. A child doing bad things must be reprimanded and informed/educated about bad consequences of their deeds, not spoiled.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well put.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. 5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            if someone posted an article about the technology used by the Nazis to organize the Holocaust, but discussing the attendant ethics was strictly forbidden, would you be happy participating in that discussion?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Interesting example - you are asking if I would be interested in (discussing) e.g. technological aspects of IBM products around Second World War. Yes, this might be very interesting. I can also imagine other Nazi tech related topics that I wouldn’t find interesting (but see no reason for others not to be interested in) and in such cases I would use the hide button. Hopefully such place wouldn’t be all war tech from Nazi Germany or modern day USA ;)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I would absolutely be hanging out there. That was kind of how this place has been for the most part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As to your question about Nazis, yes I would want to discuss the technology, and I’d be happy to discuss it with people in those threads. If it were completely neutral politically, there is the potential to have great technical discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think you’d have trouble finding a lot of people who would want to hang out there

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree, but that’s not a bad thing, is it? This is not some sort of mass movement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. 0

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                s it possible to have a small place (e.g. lobste.rs) which is for discussing technology without ethical implications and all the rest of the net for discussing whatever you want

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                No. Even if it were, this would not be it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Even if it were, this would not be it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How do you know this?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 0

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Because this site is full of intelligent people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah. You’re implying that “discussing technology without ethical implications” is exclusive to stupid people. Do I understand you correctly?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I’m chewing on my keyboard right now!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Discussing technology without coming up against ethical issues is impossible. I don’t think intelligent people would just skirt around them when they come up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. 5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do you have an example of an action that would not be subject to ethical judgements? In trying to understand your claim, but I don’t sufficiently understand the definitions you’re using to determine whether you’ve made a falsifiable statement or not. Will you spend a little time describing the limits of your statement or what empirical observations support it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would argue that there is a class of actions, e.g., selecting one knife over another in the kitchen for cooking, that has neither inherent ethic or no ethical consequence. Now, the ethic selected for consideration will affect whether you consider something to be of consequence. If, e.g., there is an ethical judgment on the Proper Utensils To Use, then that becomes of ethical consequence. Generally, societies consider actions such as killing adult humans to have inherent ethics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Suppose we choose gcc or clang - then you are supporting, ever so mildly, one development philosophy & license over another. Those licenses are widely considered to have ethical entailments. The FSF has very strong ethical stances about licensing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now, with respect to empirical observations, I suggest weapons systems: they are an obvious technology which carries ethical implications. Other technology might be: AirBNB (affects housing), Uber (affects taxi operators), factory robots (replaces factory workers). Each of those affects jobs and thus the ability of many members of society to be fed and housed, a clear ethical question.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I hope those presents samples that adequately points towards the answer you are looking for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I would argue that there is a class of actions, e.g., selecting one knife over another in the kitchen for cooking, that has neither inherent ethic or no ethical consequence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interesting. Why do you believe that the methods that knife companies use to exploit their workers and the labor conditions of their employees would not be something to discuss? Do you believe that the environmental implications of importing knives from China rather than buying them locally has no ethical impact? What about the historical implications of Western expansion and influence in Japan, and the resulting western style Gyuto knives supplanting Sujihiki style kitchen knives? In fact, not only are there ethical implications, there are deep historical forces involved in your selection of kitchen knives.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Of course there are ethical considerations in picking kitchen knives. But you might not want someone to bring them up every time you try to discuss paring potatoes, because they may be considered to be off topic by some.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ah, this is the problem with language: I was contemplating grabbing one knife out of my kitchen bin versus another. “Selection” is a polymorphic verb over multiple objects dispatching… and yes, actual purchasing of knives exercises an ethical choice regarding the supply chain and who gets my infinitesimally small dollar choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It’s a bit tiring, as a friend said to me once, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism(even if you disagree with my Lefty friend there, you can get the spirit of the statement) - sometimes you do just need to get the Thing done. One has to care the appropriate amount, and respond in the proportional manner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 10

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          there is no ethical consumption under capitalism

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I’d go one step further: There’s no such thing as an unquestionably ethical action. The economic model doesn’t matter – everything is an ethical trade off. With that realization, it becomes clear that ethical debates can be shoehorned in anywhere, which is why a space where discussions on ethics are deemed off topic can be valuable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (Edit) High quality discussion on ethics would be interesting, but quality is subjective, and discussions are prone to turn into flame wars and shaming, especially in today’s internet climate, so I’d rather have them declared off topic, at least in this little corner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If politics is encouraged in every applicable thread (it is now) and I wanted to join that practice (I don’t), I could be calling folks out in many (sometimes most) threads here each day on ethics around employers, code maintenance, energy use, disposable products causing environmental harm, using tech that’s non-inclusive cuz few understand it or CPU/RAM requirements price out the poor, and so on. It would be ridiculous even when true since it distracts so much from the kinds of technical submissions that brought many people to Lobsters in the first place. Especially those actually building interesting stuff vs just submitting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It’s why I was for either ban on politics or a tag so it would be in specific threads folks could filter. Both got shot down. Here we are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You’re absolutely correct.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hell, Portland State University’s CS program even has a requirement class “CS 305 Social, Ethical, and Legal Implications of Computing”[0]. I suspect this is not an anomoly..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. https://www.pdx.edu/computer-science/cs305
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For those who figured it was odd to publish this on Medium… The authors blog is here, the link to the post about Medium is here, with the following text:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To get the point better, read it on Medium.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 11

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Something interesting to note about this post: it was drafted and written with support of the https://github.com/rust-community/content-o-tron/, a community team initiative to get more people blogging about Rust.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Complex feedback and documentation, also around limitations is incredibly important to us and we gladly help you in making it a published and useful thing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yep. I didn’t mean to post this as a jab at the Rust Evangelion Strike Force, but more just as an interesting article going through various issues and their resolutions in the language–somewhat similar to MISRA-C guidelines, for example.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Just because I personally don’t see much benefit from Rust doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate good technical writing on it when I see it. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ah, I may have put too much emphasis on “even critical posts”. My main point is that the team exists and can be approached for review. I think it’s quite unique.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hm, as an organiser of many meetups: I like this, but I’d prefer it to not encourage more meetups to serve pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (I have no issue with pizza per se, but moving beyond the “pizza & beer” monoculture important)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hey now, everyone loves pizza! It’s versatile, readily available, easily eaten without utensils, and can serve most niches for people with dietary requirements or taste preferences. (Beer, on the other hand…)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I do even agree with your points! Pizza is the easiest food to quickly get on short notice with a wide variety of variants. This is not a “I hate pizza and you should feel bad for ever serving it”.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But everyone loves pizza until all you serve is pizza. You’d be surprised how much positive response you get when you finally run something with other food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also, with caterers taking note of meetups as a target, other food gets close to pizza when it comes to convenience and price. Usually, they serve a rolling menu where you can only pick what’s available at that night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, totally agreed that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. More variety would be nice - at least pizza places offer non-pizza things if that’s your only option.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hmm what are some other things that you would like to server in place of pizza? Other dishes such as pasta/salads? (I can’t think of a good replacement)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One meetup in Chicago does empanadas and those work pretty well. I’ve also seen burritos go over well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Those both sound like good ideas - I guess it really depends on location as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For larger things, curry/rice is a great alternative that can easily cover many food styles. Bagels are also awesome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For smaller meetups, any buffet can be made affordable or even be prepared yourself with a short trip to the supermarket and 15 minutes of cutting and slicing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you have enough money, any city has a lot of small scale caterers, though they tend to cost a little more then pizza. (Not much, but it may be prohibitive) At least in Germany, getting some food from the restaurant around the corner is usually possible, even if they don’t officially cater. If they are close, they might even bring stuff up to your offer and lend you plates. This definitely becomes easier if you are always at the same location.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My rule of thumb: go to a local sports club, see what they do ;).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I suspect you’ve never tried to eat vegan, gluten-free pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I’ve gotten some feedback on some of the events I run that having non-pizza options was definitely a thing. I started running one event out of the venue space in a bar, and that’s worked quite well. Lots of food/beverage options there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yep. There’s lots of way to solve it. I want meetup organisers to be creative. (also, I want meetup organisers not to spend too much time, it may become exhausting)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In my previous company (which just raised money) we had trouble to find other “sponsors”, so we tried not to put the usual pizza and beer stuff. The result is that less people came because they had to come back late at home without eating and going to the restaurant for a meetup was too expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We finally setup for the pizza and very few beers, but it felt like people preferred the catering than the talks…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, food is important, I just want variety.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pizza isn’t the most healthy, but hey, John Carmack didn’t develop Doom ordering chinese takeout every night :p

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        BRB, registering the “John Carmack Meetup”, where everyone is John Carmack.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It isn’t as much about health. Eating Pizza once a month is fine and if you visit meetups so often that their choice of meal becomes a health issue, you should probably reconsider your meetup habit before your food habit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It’s odd to not see Fish mentioned at all. I loved Fish, but couldn’t use it for day-to-day work because of the lack of POSIX compatibility.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My experience too. The omission rankles a little harder, since the title seems to be a reference: Friendly Interactive SHell.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It’s in the man page (See DESCRIPTION).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          https://github.com/zsh-users/fizsh/blob/master/man/fizsh.pod

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ah, thanks!