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Re: Adding advisory notification for non-ELPA package.el downloads

From: Radon Rosborough
Subject: Re: Adding advisory notification for non-ELPA package.el downloads
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2017 09:19:35 -0700

> All of this is based on the assumption that people *want* to assign
> their copyright to FSF.

I think this is possibly the most important point here. Not everyone
agrees about these sorts of issues.

Some people don't want to assign copyright to the FSF. Some people
don't want to put their packages on GNU ELPA. Some people don't want
to license their code under the GPL. And we have to respect these
feelings. If we try to *force* people, then that will just make them
angry and liable to spread exaggerated criticism.

In my opinion, the only reasonable way to make more people assign
copyright to the FSF is to make this process as easy as possible. The
appropriate response to people preferring MELPA over GNU ELPA is to
make GNU ELPA just as feature-rich and easy to use as MELPA.
Displaying a notice message in Emacs about these things will annoy
people. Not me, personally; I'll just turn it off. But I'm not
important: the people who are important are the people who don't care
about this stuff, and will just see the message as a nuisance that
turns them off Emacs. In other words, the other 95% of developers who
do not use Emacs but whom we want to convince to use Emacs.

I might have my own opinions about these issues, but I care much, much
more about Emacs and other free software becoming more widely used.
Pragmatically, the only way that this will happen is if they become
better alternatives to non-free software. Putting the GPL on them is
not sufficient. If someone advocating non-free software is
inconvenienced by the GPL, then that will just push them even farther
away. Likewise, if someone receives a message telling them how they
should manage the copyright for their project, that will also push
them farther away, if they happen to disagree with the FSF's stance on
copyright assignment.

That's why these issues about making contributions easy and using
modern development tooling are really important. Regardless of
anyone's personal feelings on the matter, it's a fact that software
projects which have kept a closer eye on these things have seen more
success and adoption. I'd love to see Emacs overtake Atom but that
won't happen unless we stop being so insular and distrusting of the
"outside world". RMS, I've seen you say things like "we need to make
it clear that the 'Emacs ecosystem' is not part of Emacs" and "there
is a big ethical problem with melpa.org" (I'm quoting from memory,
please correct me if I'm wrong). You may perfectly well be right, but
that doesn't mean it's the right message to send: "We are right; you
are wrong; please do it our way instead or you shouldn't be a part of
our community."

To reiterate, the most important thing to do is to bring the FSF way
into feature and easy-of-use parity with third-party offerings. That
is what will bring success, in the long run.

Best regards,
Radon Rosborough

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