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Re: State of the GNUnion 2020

From: Samuel Thibault
Subject: Re: State of the GNUnion 2020
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2020 00:02:27 +0100
User-agent: NeoMutt/20170609 (1.8.3)

Alexandre François Garreau, le sam. 22 févr. 2020 23:32:13 +0100, a ecrit:
> giving a link to GNU coding standards (actually even packaged into
> debian), for instance, would be pretty reasonable mentoring.

Sure (but also telling which piece is questioned in the contribution,
e.g. "there are missing spaces in function calls, see the corresponding
part of the GNU Coding Standards"). Providing a link may not even be
necessary, the contributor can easily find it with a webcrawler.

> > 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.
> 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.

No: in many juridictions it's simply the default if you don't explicitly
make it free.

I see my students not think that much when they put software on github,
if I don't discuss with them. When you create a repository on github,
it proposes to set a licence, and it happens to list essentially free
licences (it may not be so long-term wise on github). But if you
don't explicitly make a choice, no license is set, and thus in many
juridictions the software is not free.

> 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*.

Sure. But if your software is unknown, it will not attract new
contributors, and you will not have the opportunity to discuss with them
about the politics.

But anyway the matter I was discussing was not about the software being
"good", but about welcoming contributions. Some software might be very
good, if it is not welcoming new contributors they will just rewrite it,
even if that'd result with a much less good software.

> > 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.

How can they know about the need for freedom if nobody gets to tell them
about the dangers of non-free software?

> 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.

But they'll most often come from a technical door.

We often see this kind of situation in the community-driven ISPs of
FFDN: people often come with technical questions to help some people
with Internet access, and they come home not only with technical
answers, but also political aspects of why e.g. network neutrality is
important etc.

If we were not nice/welcoming on the technical questions, they would
just not listen to whatever politics we'd like to talk them about in
addition to the technical parts. Because they have no idea that these
questions are important. We have a similar situation with free software.


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