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Re: State of the GNUnion 2020

From: Alexandre François Garreau
Subject: Re: State of the GNUnion 2020
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2020 23:32:13 +0100

Le samedi 22 février 2020, 21:43:00 CET Samuel Thibault a écrit :
> Kaz Kylheku (gnu-misc-discuss), le sam. 22 févr. 2020 10:22:55 -0800, a 
> > On 2020-02-22 01:50, Samuel Thibault wrote:
> > > Yes. Which doesn't mean they should immediately be given commit
> > > power
> > > etc. But at the very least be helped to improve and acquire
> > > experience.
> > 
> > I strongly disagreee; people should come to freeware projects
> > as "self starters" with some meaningful combination of decent
> > industry experience and talent.
> Perhaps that's one point where opinions diverge.

Especially if the freeware (it commonly is) is proprietary software… as 
according free-software philosophy, GNU’s philosophy, proprietary software 
*shouldn’t exist at all*.

But moreover, what if those other projects also have low quality 
standards? or simply standards different from GNU ones? giving a link to 
GNU coding standards (actually even packaged into debian), for instance, 
would be pretty reasonable mentoring.

> > Simply put nobody has the time to tutor you.
> > You have all the code; you can study it. There are books,
> > tutorials, and other resources.
> So the new generation will have to learn by itself? Do not be surprised
> if it doesn't wish to pick up the software that was produced by the
> previous generation, and will just rewrite everything with non-free
> tools etc.

It could simply be “rewrite everything”.  It doesn’t have to be non-free.  
“all reserved” copyright, and stopping people from studying and reading 
code, has not to be the norm for mankind.

If they do non-free, it’s not because “they are not teached” 
appropriatedly, that’s the fantasy of the “homo homine lupus est”.  If 
they ever do, it’s actually because they were *teached* into non-free 
software, or tricked into it, either by bad teachers, or by bad laws.

But that problem is absolutely not technical, it is political.  What is to 
be fixed here is philosophy, politics, not anything technical such as 
ability to contribute or so…

We shouldn’t be defending free software because it is good but because it 
gives freedom, so we shouldn’t try to make it good *just* for the fantasy 
of it to be considered as such so then people agree on free software.  
People need to be *politically convinced*.  Otherwise, it’s simply moot.  
They may simply betrail as soon as the economical conjoncture or the 
political system (say: one that *forbids* free software) abandons us, and 
put their comfort at stake.

We shouldn’t value freedom just because at a certain time it gives us 
comfort, because it could change.  Freedom is not freedom to be 
comfortable, freedom is freedom to do anything you find appropriate to 
*make stuff comfortable* when you find it is not already.  Without the 
possibility of discomfort, there wouldn’t be a point in freedom.

If we sucked, then maybe they should rewrite other free-software from 
scratch… very good, if it’s a consequence from the fact we’re unable to 
understand them, they shall not simply listen and obey to us!  but if they 
write non-free software… then being “good” wouldn’t help in anyway, 
because they wouldn’t do that for freedom.

And anyway, if we want more software to be free, we should research to be 
used, for instance as dependency, for linking, for scripting, etc. because 
by the virtue of GPL it would make their things free, regardless of their 
opinion.  And to obtain that, we need to produce software that runs well 
and that have proper and clean interfaces… which require skills, sometimes 
precise people whose departure would be a certain loss.

Then what if more contributors are attracted, but the software less used? 
less linked against? less relied upon?

> If nobody is there to hold their hand, I don't see a reason why they
> would listen to the free software goals.

Freedom.  Freedom is valuable per se.  I think the biggest downside you 
could find *against* rms would be that if he never existed, some other 
people at some time (maybe later, maybe less consistently) would have got 
his ideas.  This is something you can point against him, and at the same 
time a compliment… of consistency, of strength, of moral value.

So people will want to uphold freedom anyway.  Maybe fewer, and that would 
be sad, but then we’d need to give them *political* hand-holding, not 
technical one.

Because free-software philosophy is philosophy, freedom philosophy, 
universal philosophy, we don’t need to be specially nice or welcoming to 
uphold it.  We can do it, and at the same time be true to self, even the 
worse person imagineable…

Imagine what if we needed to be nice to be against something as bad as 
torture? because then people would say “if we are not convincing they will 
turn to accept it”… but holy crap! it would be horrible! we don’t need to 
do anything special for torture to be bad already! you can’t say it’s 
purely our fault then, because we’re not nice or welcoming enough, if 
people prefer something bad, even for them!

This is a deep, heavy and bad symptom I see here: simply blame ourselves 
for the lacks or unsuccess of something as deep and important as free 
software… and then because of the extreme gravity of the fact, forget the 
extreme importance of the goal… but… that is actually really un-humble and 
pretentious to do so… it diminuish the idea of free-software itself to put 
it *below* ideals of kindness, etc.

Anyway being perfect doesn’t make you right about the worst things, and 
even if it could look more likely you would convince some people into it, 
they’re still able to reflect by themselves, so even being perfect, if you 
defend the worst wrong, people will disagree with you.

The same way, if you defend the best good, even if you’re the worst 
person, people should be prepared to the idea you defend may not be made 
wrong, or at least worthless, de facto, simply because it’s you, horrible 
person, who’s upholding them.  Because then they stupidly deprieve 
themselves from the best good… for an arbitrary fact ><  Arbitrary: 
because otherwise it gives you the power to state you uphold anything, and 
people should abhore it… it then becomes so easy to do political 
manipulation! and I’m pretty sure that’s already a common thing.

> "Welcome" or "give opportunity" doesn't mean "commit the change".

To me “give opportunity” can be pretty wide.  This look like official 
language… really “light”, wide-meaning and unclear one… that kind of 
language simply makes me… tired… after reading such things I’ve less 
energy and I need to rest… I don’t usually expect that from GNU…

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