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Re: referencing non-free software


From: Ilya Shlyakhter
Subject: Re: referencing non-free software
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2018 14:57:26 -0500

(I hope it's clear that my respect for the FSF and its work goes
without saying.   If I'm challenging its guidelines, it's to suggest
possible improvements, to put them on a better foundation, and to
better my own understanding.  I've been reading RMS's posts on the MIT
CSAIL list for many years, and do understand the value of his strong
underlying philosophy.)

On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 2:52 PM, Ilya Shlyakhter <address@hidden> wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 02:19:29PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
>> [..], so the  FSF's caricature
>> of non-free software authors' motivations (“I want to get rich
>> (usually described inaccurately as ‘making a living’)") hardly
>> applies.
>
> "Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
> of them" -- It's a direct quote from
> https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/shouldbefree.html .
>
> "Which merits one picks helps determine the outcome of the
> comparison." -- but _who_ should pick the merits and do the
> comparison?  I'm suggesting it should be the users.  If "it's obvious
> how nonfree software harms the user", then, after being pointed to
> non-free software along with a warning of its harms, users will
> obviously choose "even buggy and less featureful free software" over
> its non-free counterpart.  They will then be using free software
> deliberately, which I'd think is the kind of activity the FSF would
> want to encourage.
>
> I understand the argument for preventing naive/unsophisticated users
> from getting trapped into proprietary programs without a full
> appreciation of the consequences.  But most Org mode users would not
> be in that category.
>
> I have trouble understanding why it's unethical to point even
> sophisticated and discerning users, fully capable of understanding the
> problems of non-free software, to such software.  A ban on such
> pointing has obvious cynical explanations (FSF just doesn't trust any
> users' judgement, and/or wants to reduce the need to compete with
> non-free software on technical quality).  Loosening the ban would have
> the benefit of disproving such interpretations.
>
> On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 2:48 PM, Francesco Ariis <address@hidden> wrote:
>> On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 02:19:29PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
>>> [..], so the  FSF's caricature
>>> of non-free software authors' motivations (“I want to get rich
>>> (usually described inaccurately as ‘making a living’)") hardly
>>> applies.
>>
>> Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
>> of them
>> -F
>>
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