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Re: [ELPA] New package: repology.el

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: [ELPA] New package: repology.el
Date: Sat, 09 Jan 2021 10:54:21 +0200

> From: Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org>
> Cc: bugs@gnu.support, emacs-tangents@gnu.org, ulm@gentoo.org,
>       ams@gnu.org, arthur.miller@live.com, dgutov@yandex.ru
> Date: Sat, 09 Jan 2021 01:41:21 -0500
>   > I want help them because I don't see how these references cause any
>   > damage to the Free Software cause.  Promoting non-free software and
>   > inviting users to use it is indeed against our cause, but just telling
>   > where it's stored isn't.
> Telling people that the package _exists_ is what we want to avoid.

I'm quite sure this is a misguided effort.  For example, there's no
reason not to tell them it exists, if you at the same time tell them
it's non-free and urge them to use a free replacement instead.  Thus,
the urge to avoid divulging this information is not absolute, and we
should talk about when it's okay and when it isn't, instead of flatly
refusing to divulge the information as an absolute principle.

>   > I don't think the GNU project is about concealing information.  I hope
>   > it isn't.
> The information is available to the public without our help, so
> we are not concealing it.  But we have no obligation to go out
> of our way to spread the word.

Having a single package that works with a single site is a far cry
from going out of our way.  Let's not exaggerate, please.

>   > Not mentioning a program does nothing towards eliminating it,
> Actually it does, sometimes.  If we avoid mentioning a program we
> avoid recruiting more users for it.

That's an assumption, and I don't think it's true in this era of
abundance of information.

> That can eventually contribute to its elimination.

That's another assumption, which I think is even less true.

I could argue the opposite: by not mentioning such a program we leave
the field to those who will promote it and lure users to use it.
Whereas if we do mention it and say that it's non-free or has other
issues (like spying on its users) we allow the users to make better
decisions regarding its use.

> The point is, it avoids leading people to use that program.

But it does that badly, if it ever does.

> A nonfree program denies freedom to its users.  If we lead a person
> to use the nonfree program, we lead per to surrender freedom to it.
> Therefore we try to avoid that.

I'm not arguing for leading people towards using such programs.  I'm
saying that pretending they don't exist is a very inefficient
strategy, to say the least, towards the goal of leading users away
from them.

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