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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] How do you handle references to non-free software

From: Sam Geeraerts
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] How do you handle references to non-free software in public forums?
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2011 20:51:50 +0200
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20101029)

Henry Jensen wrote:

If it occurs at the forum of a FSDG compliant distro that now and then
non-free software is mentioned, how do you handle this?

I think general forum good practices apply:
- Make sure you have clear rules about what is allowed, not just with regards to software freedom but also about the use of the forum in general. - Make sure it's clear what consequences can be expected when someone crosses the line (which doesn't mean you have to be zero-tolerant about it, honey works better than vinegar). - Be on the look-out for potential moderators to whom you could trust some responsibility and don't be afraid to give them that.

The question came to my mind because of

Deleting the posts would be censorship and I think this would be not

I agree, unless it's deliberate trolling about non-free software.

Non-free software "should be discouraged if someone brings them up."
All right, but in case of many new users or a high-traffic forum a
small team wouldn't be able to discourage every reference to non-free
software because of their limited resources.

In case of many new users I would first of all get suspicious. It means you either excel at marketing (in which case you're welcome to do the same trick for gNewSense ;) ) or you suck at it and nobody knows that the distro is supposed to be fully free.

Eitherway, the problem probably solves itself over time. In the latter case the users go away again once they realize the nature of the distro. In the former case you hopefully also get more moderators to keep things under control. Or not, and then your community implodes and all your worries are over. :)

Discouraging doesn't always have to be a whole essay about the importance of software freedom. You can usually assume forum members have some understanding of the concept and then a short (standard) explanation is enough. But a link to the forum rules or one of the philosophy articles on is often sufficient, I imagine.

What about references of NON-FSDG software? Let's say if someone would
post instructions how to install a Linux kernel with included blobs or
any other software mentioned on

I can imagine that there is a situation where such posts are overseen by a 
small team.

As long as there's not a structural problem of condoning such references, it's fine, IMO. I think the "mistakes are ok" part of the "Commitment to Correct Mistakes" section of the guidelines applies here.

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