Russ Allbery schreef op 20-09-2016 1:15:
Bart Schouten <> writes:

I am just going to respond point by point. I was not merely talking
about open source here.

But I was. :) I'm not particularly interested in talking about anything else, since that's the point of this discussion: Debian as a free software
project, and what that means for our relationship with our users.

I realize that but I've just come to understand recently, and over time, that there are great similarities that are often not recognised.

The open source world uses different jargon for the same things, in my perspective.

I do greatly appreciate your in-depth explanation of where you're coming
from.  The ideas of mutuality that you talk about resonate with me as
well, and I'm not after some sort of one-sided relationship. But I think we're talking past each other a bit in that this is exactly the point: the
customer model is one-sided, except for the money flow.

Thank you. But I would hold that the outlook on life doesn't change when money is involved.

For instance: personally as I am using so much "free software" in the event that if I ever did make a successful business out of it (just saying it in a certain way here) (without trying to incur debt now) I might feel inclined to think "I have been given all of that, in a sense for free, but I never considered it had to be for free. Now that it is making me money, I am going to give back to it."

A bit the style the graduates in the USA have. Many successful alumni contribute back to schools and universities, also financially.

See I like for the relationship to be or remain open and not determined by laws or regulations, so I am free to do /in/ it what I want.

But this mindset "I wouldn't mind giving back (paying for it) financially in due time" also has a consequence that you may not like ;-) (just kidding you here).

You were specifically talking about the free software relationship with
users who do not have the technical capabilities to contribute to the
development of the software, so that's what I'm focusing on.  In that
situation, I think the gift characterization is accurate. If people are actively collaborating together on a project, each contributing pieces of it, this becomes a somewhat different scenario of a mutual project where
everyone is adding their piece to build something together.  But that
inherently involves collaboration, which isn't the context of this thread.

But that user may turn into a collaborator.

And when is the contribution recognised? Some people contribute (for the time) by sharing ideas.

Others contribute by developing concepts, or experimenting with systems. Others contribute by writing software (maybe not exclusively for Debian) or maintaining packages (maybe exclusively for Debian).

So just assuming this is a gliding scale here, or a matter of "how much" rather than "if at all" (relative and not absolute) -- a matter of gradation, not absolutes,

then it would be reasonable to say that "solve it yourself" but be a rather hostile thing to say to a fellow contributor, wouldn't it? If you said that to your teammates, it wouldn't be very nice.

(In a sense, we're all collaboratively building human society together,
but I think that sense is too abstract to help much when trying to decide specifically how the Debian Project should deal with incoming bug reports,
although it's worth keeping in mind when deciding when and how to
volunteer one's time.)

I like and I am happy that you say this here, at least, perhaps.

I most assuredly don't know anything of the kind! In fact, I completely
disagree with that statement!

No one is required to contribute to my open source projects in order to
use them.  In fact, if I required such a thing, it would not be open
source; it's explicitly ruled out by the definition.

Maybe you're talking about copyleft licenses specifically? Those require
that *if* you make modifications *and* you distribute them to other
people, *then* you have to provide source.  But that absolutely doesn't
require you to contribute in kind! You can use the software and modify it
all you want for your personal use without any sort of in-kind

(That said, I'm one of those free software developers who prefers not to
use copyleft because I don't like the sorts of relationships that are
created by long legal documents, although I do respect what advocates of
copyleft are trying to accomplish.)

Well same here, we have a like-minded person then ;-). What often happens in open source (not necessarily here) is that contributions of /thinking/ or /designing/ or /reflecting/ are dissuaded unless and until someone "makes his hands dirty". Debate, then, is discouraged until someone is an active contributor by doing the "dirty work" (the way in Spain some construction worker will have to do the more unpleasant jobs until he becomes more senior).

It is often expected that if you have /any/ complaint about the software, you are then recommended and required to file bug reports, to begin with. But bug reports are often not acted upon (not saying here). It sometimes becomes a fight to get anyone to do /anything/.

It is often a goal to draw people /into/ the project but the way this is done is "letting them do their own work". Often times information is withheld (in certain venues) in order to prompt the person to dig into it himself.

If many projects are not very good or user experience are not that adequate and software is sometimes even designed around /not being so good that the designer is no longer needed/ then in order to use the software, often times a form of interaction is required, and this interaction then takes the form of contributing.

I am merely saying or hoping to say that indeed already there may be a dynamic that says: it is better if the software is not that user friendly, because this at least prompts an investment from the person who tries to use it.

See what I mean? Everything we do requires an investment, whether it be money or something else. And maybe software is getting designed around this idea that an investment is required to use it, and it won't be money, but it will be effort.

As if the software (some software) is left with "rough edges" on purpose.

Free software isn't that sort of gift; it's a gift to the public, which is a different sort of thing, since it doesn't create those sorts of personal
relationships.  It's a gift to strangers, a way of saying "I made this
thing, and if you find it useful, you can use it too."

Aye, of course, I will concur (I just said the same thing). I just think it's a bit more as well, and this creates the tension.

The tension is created I feel by others who take your software and then say "You can use this, no problems whatsoever".

It's the kind of people that say Linux is for everyone. This kinds of people creates expectations because people then assume this information is correct.

And there are many people in Linux who will vehemently deny that Linux is hard to use. It is these kind of people that create skewed images of what people can expect. It is this skewed image making that creates the obligations you've talked about because it is a form of advertizing.

Now personally I would never go to the Debian project and expect perfect GUI experience because I don't go to Debian for the GUI, I only use it as a server and hence, in a sense, for individual packages.

So to the point of this bug report that this was about; I concur and I agree that it is not something I would feel responsible about, to put it that way, to ensure someone has a great desktop experience because I'm not in Debian for desktop experiences nor for providing them.

Yes.  I believe this is true of all free software.  If it's not broken
now, it will be at some point.  This is just how software is.

I don't agree entirely, to use the words of some movie ;-). ("I disagree, that is to say, I don't agree entirely"). But the problem from my perspective is not necessarily with the product an sich, but rather, as I've said here, with the false advertizing that people make.

Many times in Linux, I'm sorry but it's true, will people /deny the brokenness/ which, in a sense, keeps the brokenness intact ;-), because if you can't even talk clearly and directly about something, you will also not find a way to fix it, as the whole experience has been denied. I mean that saying "okay, yes, it's broken" is the first step in fixing anything, right?

If you don't want the gift, that's fine! I have no objections to that at all! I don't want you to use something that you don't enjoy, or that will bring you pain, or dependency that you don't want. But I'm not going to give the gift on different terms just because you want different terms; I
have not the time nor the energy to do so.

It's probably not you but someone else, that says that is nothing wrong with your product and can never ever be and that it's the user's fault.

This ego that Linux is perfect.

I just want to quickly summarize what I've taken from this.

- I don't mind that you want to create software "as is" but there is a not of fanboyism around it that will claim it is utterly perfect when it isn't.

- There is a lot of ego around certain solutions (think SystemD) that make using it a barrage of being subjected to all kinds of "advertizing" claims.

- Often times solutions as these are sold with a kind of "is better than anything else" attitude.

- The end result is that software takes up a space in terms of advertizing it to be perfect for a certain solution.

- Software "as is" would not do that but fanboyism does.

- I guess you must fight hard to prevent that from happening.

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