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Re: referencing non-free software


From: Ian Kelling
Subject: Re: referencing non-free software
Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2018 17:10:23 -0500
User-agent: mu4e 1.0-alpha3; emacs 27.0.50

Ilya Shlyakhter <address@hidden> writes:

> FSF guidelines discourage referencing non-free software:
> https://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/References.html#References
>
> I see some problems with this, and think it'd be better if the
> standards addressed these questions head-on.
>
> To me, this prohibition looks like simple protectionism.  It's one
> thing to promote free software by creating a free program superior to
> a non-free one, pointing users to both, explaining the advantages of
> the free program (including the freedom part), and then letting the
> users decide.  It's quite another thing to simply hide the non-free
> program from users.  I have seen software authors who are confident in
> their work point to competing software right from their websites; for
> me as a user, this promotes confidence in the author's own work.   Is
> the assumption here that users are unable to see their own best
> interests, even when presented with all the arguments?  If yes, that
> seems disrespectful and paternalistic towards users.  If no, why not
> point users to both free and non-free alternatives and trust them to
> decide?

The article mentions reasons and you haven't addressed them. Look at any
kind of website. How often do they discuss alternatives to whatever
their site is about. Rarely, any gnu is no different. Are they being
disrespectful? I don't know what you mean by protectionism. Afaik, that
is an economic policy.

- Ian



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