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Re: Grammar checking

From: Lynn Winebarger
Subject: Re: Grammar checking
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2023 11:24:05 -0400

On Sat, Apr 1, 2023 at 11:12 PM Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> wrote:
>   > LanguageTool isn't proprietary software, but it is used for SaaSS
>   > where the "premium" tier appears to use rule sets that are not
>   > released with the base tool.
> We certainly don't want Emacs to lead people to submit to practices
> like that.
> If the released (and free) LanguageTool _program_ gives adequate
> results, we could make Emacs support working with that.  But we should
> take pains _not_ to support the kind of communication that that SaaSS
> server offers.
They may not make it easy, see this complaint on their forum:
Although that appears to only apply to the "grammar checker" on the
languagetool.org site, so presumably users of a locally installed free
server won't see such comments.
There's also this kind of thing in the code base:

>                                   LanguageTool.org is very clear in using
>   > the term "open source" rather than "free" to describe the software
>   > (and configuration files) for its "Basic" service.
> That means they don't agree with our philosophy.  Given the facts
> you've described, that is no surprise.  But we don't need to reject a
> free program just because its developers disagree with our philosophy.

I agree the concerns I've raised are of a "second-order" nature.  I
haven't claimed the program itself is non-free, just that there are
foreseeable complications of the sort highlighted in Section 8 of the
GNU coding standards.   There was an extensive discussion around how
to incorporate the grammars for tree-sitter modes *after* all the work
to get the functionality working, and I'm not sure that even involved
any truly non-free software.  The issues around how to advise users to
set up and make use of languagetool seem to me to be much stickier.

* The documentation is free but definitely refers to the SaaSS in
meaningful ways in the sense of Section 8.

* The process for contributing "rules" to the free version is to go
through the SaaSS's forum sites.
https://community.languagetool.org/rule/list?lang=en shows 5919 rules
for english, presumably in the basic version.  I have no idea where to
find these rules in the code base, nor whether submitting a rule that
is already in the premium version will actually get incorporated in
the free version.   Looking at the java code makes it appear there are
many hard-coded rules, but I don't know if that is really the case.
That is whether the code for the rules are some generic implementation
of the rules coded in XML, or if the XML rule sets are being
translated into java code at some point in the build process.

The second one is going to put users in a sticky situation if they
want to enhance emacs's grammar checking once there is an official
reliance on this external tool.  I'm not really a purist, but I don't
like dealing with these kinds of ambiguous situations where the
gatekeeper for community contributions has such a conflict of interest
in whether and how those contributions are incorporated and shared.
Without impugning the developer and gatekeepers, there's no
*guarantee* a contributed rule via those community forums will not be
incorporated in the premium ruleset without being incorporated in the
"basic" ruleset, since such contributions are presumably provided to
the project maintainer under the LGPL.

There are workarounds to these issues, but none of them that I can see
are trivial.  I don't know what benefit there is to delaying dealing
with these issues until the functionality is already implemented in


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