Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-10 Thread Alfred M. Szmidt
We strongly recommend people to not use non-free software simply by
not mentioning it.  We don't cater to software that tries to destroy
computer user freedom, there is no point and is counter productive to
our goals.

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread J.B. Nicholson
Please stop copying me on your replies, Ilya Shlyakhter. Both Reply-To: and 
Mail-Reply-To: were set and pointed to gnu-misc-discuss@gnu.org on my reply 
which was sent only to the same address, the mailing list address. That's a 
pretty clear sign that the poster doesn't want replies going to them.


Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:

"Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
of them" -- It's a direct quote from
https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/shouldbefree.html .


I didn't write the text you quoted. Your posts in this thread are 
needlessly confusing because you quote without attribution and you quote 
multiple people in the same followup.



"Which merits one picks helps determine the outcome of the
comparison." -- but _who_ should pick the merits and do the
comparison?  I'm suggesting it should be the users.


The users are free to modify their copies of free documentation and 
distribute their modified copies. This discussion concerns what the FSF 
will accept into GNU.



I understand the argument for preventing naive/unsophisticated users
from getting trapped into proprietary programs without a full
appreciation of the consequences.  But most Org mode users would not
be in that category.


You're making claims beyond your knowledge. You also do this in another 
post in this thread about where users go to learn Org mode. You would do 
well to stop doing that and speak only for yourself instead of making 
unbacked claims about what others know or what programs they're allegedly 
prevented from using.


I have trouble understanding why it's unethical to point even 
sophisticated and discerning users, fully capable of understanding the 
problems of non-free software, to such software.
I think you're having trouble because you're reacting to your own 
misstatement. I'm not aware of anyone besides you claiming it is unethical 
to point users to nonfree software. You don't indicate where you get such a 
notion and I see no such language in 
https://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/References.html which is the 
source you initially complained about. That page says proprietary software 
is unethical ("Proprietary software is a social and ethical problem, and 
our aim is to put an end to that problem."). That page also says that the 
context of the reference to nonfree software matters.


A ban on such pointing has obvious cynical explanations (FSF just 
doesn't trust any users' judgement, and/or wants to reduce the need to 
compete with non-free software on technical quality).  Loosening the

ban would have the benefit of disproving such interpretations.
There is no such ban nor did you direct anyone to where GNU bans such 
language. In fact, I've already provided a quote of a direct counterexample 
from https://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/References.html.


https://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/References.html has been 
around for many years and I've never seen anyone raise your inquiry before. 
Clearly you don't agree with GNU's guidelines or restrictions. But you 
approach your disagreement in a way I find indistinguishable from someone 
trying to use GNU documentation to promote or offer nonfree software 
mentions as an alternative.


Perhaps you should consider that 
https://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/References.html is clear as 
stated and reread that page with a mind toward trying to understand what it 
says. I bring this up because each of your posts to this thread consist of 
you misstating something and then reacting to your own misstatement (that's 
how you began this entire thread, in fact). You also appear to ignore 
questions that challenge your misstatements. None of your followups suggest 
you'll continue in a respectful manner.


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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread J.B. Nicholson
Please stop copying me on your replies, Ilya Shlyakhter. Both Reply-To: and 
Mail-Reply-To: were set and pointed to gnu-misc-discuss@gnu.org on my reply 
which was sent only to the same address, the mailing list address. That's a 
pretty clear sign that the poster doesn't want replies going to them.


Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:

""A GNU program should not recommend, promote, or grant legitimacy to
the use of any non-free program."  I don't understand what "grant
legitimacy" means here.


Even the quote from the URL you supplied comes with other language that 
provide clear context which addresses your own question, as does the text 
indicating how nonfree software may be mentioned (which I quoted earlier in 
my first response to this thread).


You appear to have chosen the wrong definition of 'legitimate'. Consider 
"Conforming to known principles, or established or accepted rules or 
standards; valid." from https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/legitimate instead: 
Granting legitimacy to a nonfree program in GNU documentation includes 
stating something in a way that makes that nonfree program appear to be a 
reasonable and proper choice without any language explaining how 
proprietary software is unethical.


The principles of this definition are laid out for you not only in 
https://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/References.html#References but 
in many essays on https://gnu.org/philosophy/ and many recordings on 
https://audio-video.gnu.org/.


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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Ilya Shlyakhter
"it's ethically a no-no (from a free software perspective)" -- I was
hoping to better understand _why_ it's unethical to even inform at
least FSF-literate users about a non-free program.

Also, why it's ethical not to write the program at all (giving users
_no_ freedom to do anything), but unethical to write it and then not
GPL it. I understand this about programs that trap users into
_unwittingly_ giving up freedoms they may later want, but will find
costly to regain (iOS, Facebook).  But if I'm _knowingly_ giving up
only freedoms I am _certain_ I don't need, how am I harmed?  E.g. my
lease forbids pets.  If it forbade pets in small print or unreadable
legalese, so that I could discover the prohibition only after I'm too
invested in the apartment to find another, that would be unethical.
But if I _know_ I don't want pets, why is it unethical to offer me
this lease (but ethical not to offer the apartment at all)?

Is it unethical to release a free program which in practice is hard to
change because it's not written in a modular way?


On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 3:39 PM, Francesco Ariis  wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 02:52:00PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
>> "Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
>> of them" -- It's a direct quote from
>> https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/shouldbefree.html .
>
> Touché. You left out:
>
>> Those who benefit from the current system where programs are property
>> offer two arguments in support of their claims to own programs: the
>> emotional argument and the economic argument.
>
> the "emotional argument" being applicable here (at the risk of
> being wrong again, I did not find that specific beOrg quote via
> a customary search; I am ready to concede he will licence it under
> a free-software licence once users start to flock in numbers).
> I think it is unfair quote to the FSF, as they worked very hard to
> dismantle the `libre == gratis` equivalence. :)
>
> I am not going to be embroiled in this any further; *some* of the
> arguments you made in this and the orgmode ML threads seems to come
> from an open-source perspective.
> Again, nothing wrong with it, but when it's ethically a no-no (from
> a free software perspective) and practically dubious (i.e. is there
> any evidence people are turned away from Org because because of it?),
> I can see how the developers aren't impressed much by the pitch.
>
>
>
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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Dmitry Alexandrov
> I understand the argument for preventing naive/unsophisticated users
> from getting trapped into proprietary programs without a full
> appreciation of the consequences.  But most Org mode users would not
> be in that category.

Who knows, who knows, time flies faster than one might realize.  I, to be 
honest, was quite surprised to find out that someone wrote nonfree 
Org-compatible program specifically for iOS and for nothing else.

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Francesco Ariis
On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 02:52:00PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
> "Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
> of them" -- It's a direct quote from
> https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/shouldbefree.html .

Touché. You left out:

> Those who benefit from the current system where programs are property
> offer two arguments in support of their claims to own programs: the
> emotional argument and the economic argument.

the "emotional argument" being applicable here (at the risk of
being wrong again, I did not find that specific beOrg quote via
a customary search; I am ready to concede he will licence it under
a free-software licence once users start to flock in numbers).
I think it is unfair quote to the FSF, as they worked very hard to
dismantle the `libre == gratis` equivalence. :)

I am not going to be embroiled in this any further; *some* of the
arguments you made in this and the orgmode ML threads seems to come
from an open-source perspective.
Again, nothing wrong with it, but when it's ethically a no-no (from
a free software perspective) and practically dubious (i.e. is there
any evidence people are turned away from Org because because of it?),
I can see how the developers aren't impressed much by the pitch.



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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Dmitry Alexandrov
Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
> All I'm suggesting is that beOrg be mentioned in the same appendix
> as MobileOrg ( https://orgmode.org/manual/MobileOrg.html#MobileOrg),
> along with a note saying "beOrg is currently non-free, we strongly
> recommend that users avoid non-free software, here is a link to the
> FSF pages explaining why".  How could this be reasonably seen by
> users as an "endorsement" of the non-free beOrg, if we explicitly
> say we recommend MobileOrg, and provide the beOrg reference only to
> give users all relevant information?

By the way, as of now this very appendix [0] clearly endorses Dropbox, whose 
website cannot be even be read properly without using nonfree software, what to 
say about being properly used!  And whose installable client is nonfree too, of 
course.

| For a server to host files, consider options like Dropbox.com
| account. On first connection, MobileOrg creates a directory
| MobileOrg/ on Dropbox. Pass its location to Emacs through an init
| file variable as follows:
|
|(setq org-mobile-directory "~/Dropbox/MobileOrg")

The only ‘alternative’ it mentions is ‘to use webdav server’.

[0] 
https://orgmode.org/manual/Setting-up-the-staging-area.html#Setting-up-the-staging-area

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Ilya Shlyakhter
(I hope it's clear that my respect for the FSF and its work goes
without saying.   If I'm challenging its guidelines, it's to suggest
possible improvements, to put them on a better foundation, and to
better my own understanding.  I've been reading RMS's posts on the MIT
CSAIL list for many years, and do understand the value of his strong
underlying philosophy.)

On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 2:52 PM, Ilya Shlyakhter  wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 02:19:29PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
>> [..], so the  FSF's caricature
>> of non-free software authors' motivations (“I want to get rich
>> (usually described inaccurately as ‘making a living’)") hardly
>> applies.
>
> "Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
> of them" -- It's a direct quote from
> https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/shouldbefree.html .
>
> "Which merits one picks helps determine the outcome of the
> comparison." -- but _who_ should pick the merits and do the
> comparison?  I'm suggesting it should be the users.  If "it's obvious
> how nonfree software harms the user", then, after being pointed to
> non-free software along with a warning of its harms, users will
> obviously choose "even buggy and less featureful free software" over
> its non-free counterpart.  They will then be using free software
> deliberately, which I'd think is the kind of activity the FSF would
> want to encourage.
>
> I understand the argument for preventing naive/unsophisticated users
> from getting trapped into proprietary programs without a full
> appreciation of the consequences.  But most Org mode users would not
> be in that category.
>
> I have trouble understanding why it's unethical to point even
> sophisticated and discerning users, fully capable of understanding the
> problems of non-free software, to such software.  A ban on such
> pointing has obvious cynical explanations (FSF just doesn't trust any
> users' judgement, and/or wants to reduce the need to compete with
> non-free software on technical quality).  Loosening the ban would have
> the benefit of disproving such interpretations.
>
> On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 2:48 PM, Francesco Ariis  wrote:
>> On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 02:19:29PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
>>> [..], so the  FSF's caricature
>>> of non-free software authors' motivations (“I want to get rich
>>> (usually described inaccurately as ‘making a living’)") hardly
>>> applies.
>>
>> Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
>> of them
>> -F
>>
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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Ilya Shlyakhter
On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 02:19:29PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
> [..], so the  FSF's caricature
> of non-free software authors' motivations (“I want to get rich
> (usually described inaccurately as ‘making a living’)") hardly
> applies.

"Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
of them" -- It's a direct quote from
https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/shouldbefree.html .

"Which merits one picks helps determine the outcome of the
comparison." -- but _who_ should pick the merits and do the
comparison?  I'm suggesting it should be the users.  If "it's obvious
how nonfree software harms the user", then, after being pointed to
non-free software along with a warning of its harms, users will
obviously choose "even buggy and less featureful free software" over
its non-free counterpart.  They will then be using free software
deliberately, which I'd think is the kind of activity the FSF would
want to encourage.

I understand the argument for preventing naive/unsophisticated users
from getting trapped into proprietary programs without a full
appreciation of the consequences.  But most Org mode users would not
be in that category.

I have trouble understanding why it's unethical to point even
sophisticated and discerning users, fully capable of understanding the
problems of non-free software, to such software.  A ban on such
pointing has obvious cynical explanations (FSF just doesn't trust any
users' judgement, and/or wants to reduce the need to compete with
non-free software on technical quality).  Loosening the ban would have
the benefit of disproving such interpretations.

On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 2:48 PM, Francesco Ariis  wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 02:19:29PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
>> [..], so the  FSF's caricature
>> of non-free software authors' motivations (“I want to get rich
>> (usually described inaccurately as ‘making a living’)") hardly
>> applies.
>
> Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
> of them
> -F
>
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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Francesco Ariis
On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 02:19:29PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
> [..], so the  FSF's caricature
> of non-free software authors' motivations (“I want to get rich
> (usually described inaccurately as ‘making a living’)") hardly
> applies.

Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
of them
-F

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Ilya Shlyakhter
"We aren't preventing anyone from using non-free software" -- not
physically wresting it out of anyone's hands, sure; but by
deliberately refusing to mention beOrg in the Org mode manual, which
is the only place most users go to learn Org, we certainly are
preventing most users from considering beOrg.  All I'm suggesting is
that beOrg be mentioned in the same appendix as MobileOrg (
https://orgmode.org/manual/MobileOrg.html#MobileOrg  ), along with a
note saying "beOrg is currently non-free, we strongly recommend that
users avoid non-free software, here is a link to the FSF pages
explaining why".  How could this be reasonably seen by users as an
"endorsement" of the non-free beOrg, if we explicitly say we recommend
MobileOrg, and provide the beOrg reference only to give users all
relevant information?

"there is a practical value in being economical with words.
Documentation needs to be concise" -- I'm not suggesting that we
include the full FSF manifesto in the Org manual, just a reference to
it.  The MobileOrg section is already in an Appendix.   Adding a
footnote to the Appendix mentioning beOrg and linking to the FSF
manifesto would hardly lengthen the 300-page manual.

""A GNU program should not recommend, promote, or grant legitimacy to
the use of any non-free program."  I don't understand what "grant
legitimacy" means here.  "legitimate" means "conforming to the law or
to rules."  What rules is this talking about, exaclty?   If rules
means something like "FSF ethics code", then the caveat described
above would dispel any notion that beOrg meets FSF ethics or is being
recommended.  I've seen scientific software packages point to
competing solutions for the same problem; I never read that as a
recommendation, but as the author being confident in his own package
and putting the overall scientific enterprise above his own ego.

beOrg author said: " I may in the future look at a free software
license but only once it is in a more complete state and I've
determined how beorg will be self sustaining in terms of revenue.
There are some examples of apps which follow this model (such as Blink
shell)."  I'd guess that, were beOrg mentioned in the Org manual, its
usage would get to the "self sustaining" state much faster, so it's a
bit of a chicken-and-egg problem.  Btw, right now beOrg is free in the
app store, and accepts voluntary donations, so the  FSF's caricature
of non-free software authors' motivations (“I want to get rich
(usually described inaccurately as ‘making a living’)") hardly
applies.

I do see one strong argument against referencing a non-free program in
the manual: this could motivate the program's author to make it free.
But it does not seem dispositive.

The FSF guideline against "recommending or promoting" non-free
software is phrased as a guideline ("should", not "must"); and seems
limited to "recommending or promoting".  Is there flexibility in
practice, that would allow beOrg to be mentioned with an appropriate
caveat?  What is the FSF's response to the concern that not mentioning
competing software reduces the incentive to improve free software?
(And yes, I'm aware of
https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.en.html#Alternative ).



On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 1:25 PM, Alfred M. Szmidt  wrote:
> We aren't preventing anyone from using non-free software (that would
> unethical!), we simply don't mention specific non-free software and
> instead explain why it is bad.  You are free to make your decision
> based on that, but there is little to no value in mentioning specific
> non-free software.

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Francesco Ariis
On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 12:51:16PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
> But don't you want users  to choose free software consciously, having
> considered your arguments that non-free software is "unethical and
> immoral", and actively agreed with them?  If users end up using free
> software simply by happenstance, because you prevented them from
> finding non-free software, then they haven't really accepted your
> arguments.  How does that constitute the spread of FSF ideas?  An idea
> is accepted when alternative ideas have been seriously considered and
> consciously rejected, not when alternative ideas were prevented from
> being explored.
> 
> So the value of mentioning non-free software, along with a pointer to
> the reasons not to use it, is to ensure that any decision to use free
> software is made deliberately and consciously, after genuine
> acceptance of FSF ideas.

Even though I sympathise with your ideas, there is a practical value
in being economical with words.
Documentation needs to be concise and to the point, as a new user
I often feel overwhelmed; not sure docs are the best venue for
such matter
-F

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Alfred M. Szmidt
We aren't preventing anyone from using non-free software (that would
unethical!), we simply don't mention specific non-free software and
instead explain why it is bad.  You are free to make your decision
based on that, but there is little to no value in mentioning specific
non-free software.

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Ilya Shlyakhter
But don't you want users  to choose free software consciously, having
considered your arguments that non-free software is "unethical and
immoral", and actively agreed with them?  If users end up using free
software simply by happenstance, because you prevented them from
finding non-free software, then they haven't really accepted your
arguments.  How does that constitute the spread of FSF ideas?  An idea
is accepted when alternative ideas have been seriously considered and
consciously rejected, not when alternative ideas were prevented from
being explored.

So the value of mentioning non-free software, along with a pointer to
the reasons not to use it, is to ensure that any decision to use free
software is made deliberately and consciously, after genuine
acceptance of FSF ideas.

On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 12:21 PM, Alfred M. Szmidt  wrote:
> We don't point users to non-free software because such software is
> unethical and immoral.  So there is little point in mentioning it.

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Alfred M. Szmidt
We don't point users to non-free software because such software is
unethical and immoral.  So there is little point in mentioning it.

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Ilya Shlyakhter
"the alternative that you found technically superior to another is the
nonfree one, and you expect that a user would most likely decide to
choose it rather than free one, when presented with all arguments, am
I right?" -- I expect that _some_ users will, yes.  Which, in my
understanding, will be an exercise of freedom.  Freedom means making
fully informed choices.  A "choice" to use a free program made simply
because you were unaware of a non-free one can hardly be described as
freely made.   Plus, users' awareness of the (technically better)
non-free program will incentivize the free program's authors to
improve it, an incentive currently lacking (and it shows -- the free
program has long languished at mediocre quality).

On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 4:11 AM, Dmitry Alexandrov <321...@gmail.com> wrote:
 It's one thing to promote free software by creating a free program
 superior to a non-free one, pointing users to both, explaining the
 advantages of the free program (including the freedom part), and
 then letting the users decide.  It's quite another thing to simply
 hide the non-free program from users. ... Is the assumption here
 that users are unable to see their own best interests, even when
 presented with all the arguments?  ... If no, why not point users
 to both free and non-free alternatives and trust them to decide?
>>>
>>> ...
>>
>> My question grows out of the discussion here:
>> http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/emacs-orgmode/2018-01/msg00036.html
>
> Just to be clear, as (I suppose) few of subscribers there are able to judge 
> about programs that run on iOS from their own experience.
>
> In this case, the alternative that you found technically superior to another 
> is the nonfree one, and you expect that a user would most likely decide to 
> choose it rather than free one, when presented with all arguments, am I right?

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread Dmitry Alexandrov
>>> It's one thing to promote free software by creating a free program
>>> superior to a non-free one, pointing users to both, explaining the
>>> advantages of the free program (including the freedom part), and
>>> then letting the users decide.  It's quite another thing to simply
>>> hide the non-free program from users. ... Is the assumption here
>>> that users are unable to see their own best interests, even when
>>> presented with all the arguments?  ... If no, why not point users
>>> to both free and non-free alternatives and trust them to decide?
>>
>> ...
>
> My question grows out of the discussion here:
> http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/emacs-orgmode/2018-01/msg00036.html

Just to be clear, as (I suppose) few of subscribers there are able to judge 
about programs that run on iOS from their own experience.

In this case, the alternative that you found technically superior to another is 
the nonfree one, and you expect that a user would most likely decide to choose 
it rather than free one, when presented with all arguments, am I right?

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-09 Thread J.B. Nicholson

Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:

The only reason I see stated is "Proprietary software is a social and
ethical problem, and our aim is to put an end to that problem."  What
I don't see explained is why hiding proprietary software from users is
the right way to end it.


I don't think that not "recommend[ing], promot[ing], or grant[ing] 
legitimacy to the use of any non-free program" is hiding proprietary 
software. Proprietary programs don't go away because GNU programs don't 
legitimize their use. Your point also strikes me as remarkably one-sided 
and likely to benefit the proprietary programs the GNU Project encourages 
people to supplant with free software.



I would think that the right way is to out-compete proprietary software
on the merits (both technical and philosophical), so that users, having
had a full opportunity to evaluate the merits (technical and
philosophical) of the free and non-free programs for their task, choose
the free ones.
Which merits one picks helps determine the outcome of the comparison. The 
GNU Project was founded to favor software freedom and has long argued that 
even buggy and less featureful free software is a better choice than 
powerful and reliable nonfree software because software freedom is more 
important. On a practical level, it's hard to argue against that 
perspective because software freedom allows one to make free programs less 
buggy, more reliable, or add more powerful features. But no amount of 
programming labor or technical skill will make a nonfree program free.



What is the harm, exactly, of referencing non-free software, if the
reference is accompanied by links to the FSF's arguments against using
it?
Where is there a prohibition against GNU programs "referencing" nonfree 
software?


I see "A GNU program should not recommend, promote, or grant legitimacy to 
the use of any non-free program.". I also see that well known proprietary 
programs (such as a widely used nonfree operating system) can be mentioned 
and one can supply directions as to how to use the free program on said system.


I trust it's obvious how nonfree software harms the user and why an 
organization founded to supplying free software has no interest in 
recommending, promoting, or granting legitimacy to any nonfree software.



By protectionism, I mean artificially protecting free software from
competition by restricting knowledge of the alternatives, the way
countries protect domestic industries by restricting imports.


I believe nonfree software will still exist no matter what the 
documentation for free software says. Any perceived competition is in the 
eye of the beholder.


Also, but somewhat relatedly, can we expect proprietors to recommend free 
software to their users? It would be useful to those users to learn that 
they don't have to put up with privacy violations, backdoors, and the rest 
of the malware users are not permitted to fix.



"Look at any kind of website. How often do they discuss alternatives
to whatever their site is about." -- philosophy sites certainly do
discuss alternatives.


Positioning nonfree and free software as alternatives runs against 
https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#Alternative quoted below:



We don't describe free software as an “alternative” to proprietary,
because that word presumes all the “alternatives” are legitimate and
each additional one makes users better off. In effect, it assumes that
free software ought to coexist with software that does not respect
users' freedom.

We believe that distribution as free software is the only ethical way to
make software available for others to use. The other methods, nonfree
software and Service as a Software Substitute subjugate their users. We
do not think it is good to offer users those “alternatives” to free
software.


This is similar to the listed objection on the same webpage calling all 
writing "content" which suggests every piece of writing is interchangeable 
with every other piece of writing, presumably the only difference worth 
recognizing is commercial value. That's not the case, they argue, so we 
shouldn't use language which suggests that is the case.


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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-08 Thread Ian Kelling

Ilya Shlyakhter  writes:

> FSF guidelines discourage referencing non-free software:
> https://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/References.html#References
>
> I see some problems with this, and think it'd be better if the
> standards addressed these questions head-on.
>
> To me, this prohibition looks like simple protectionism.  It's one
> thing to promote free software by creating a free program superior to
> a non-free one, pointing users to both, explaining the advantages of
> the free program (including the freedom part), and then letting the
> users decide.  It's quite another thing to simply hide the non-free
> program from users.  I have seen software authors who are confident in
> their work point to competing software right from their websites; for
> me as a user, this promotes confidence in the author's own work.   Is
> the assumption here that users are unable to see their own best
> interests, even when presented with all the arguments?  If yes, that
> seems disrespectful and paternalistic towards users.  If no, why not
> point users to both free and non-free alternatives and trust them to
> decide?

The article mentions reasons and you haven't addressed them. Look at any
kind of website. How often do they discuss alternatives to whatever
their site is about. Rarely, any gnu is no different. Are they being
disrespectful? I don't know what you mean by protectionism. Afaik, that
is an economic policy.

- Ian

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Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-08 Thread Ilya Shlyakhter
(sorry, previous message had some typos -- fixed below)

The only reason I see stated is "Proprietary software is a social and
ethical problem, and our aim is to put an end to that problem."  What
I don't see explained is why hiding proprietary software from users is
the right way to end it.   I would think that the right way is to
out-compete proprietary software on the merits (both technical and
philosophical), so that users, having had a full opportunity to
evaluate the merits (technical and philosophical) of the free and
non-free programs for their task, choose the free ones.  What is the
harm, exactly, of referencing non-free software, if the reference is
accompanied by links to the FSF's arguments against using it?  If the
arguments are as ironclad as the FSF thinks, users will heed them; but
why not have the users decide whether the arguments are good?

My question grows out of the discussion here:
http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/emacs-orgmode/2018-01/msg00036.html
.

By protectionism, I mean artificially protecting free software from
competition by restricting knowledge of the alternatives, the way
countries protect domestic industries by restricting imports.  This
can be good policy to help fledgling domestic industry get off the
ground, but if done long-term, reduces incentives for the domestic
industry to make high-quality goods.  Likewise, the ban on referencing
non-free alternatives to free software reduces the incentive to make
high-quality free software.

"Look at any kind of website. How often do they discuss alternatives
to whatever their site is about." -- philosophy sites certainly do
discuss alternatives.  I've seen some scientific software tools point
to alternate tools for the same problem: "I think my tool is best, but
here are the others, check for yourself".  These authors are so sure
of the technical merit of their tool, that they're sure the users will
voluntarily choose it over competitors.  Shouldn't the FSF be
similarly sure of the philosophical merit of their software?  Or
maybe, these authors are altruistically concerned about the users, and
want users to use the best tool, even if not the authors' own; and also
respect users' judgement enough to trust them to make the best choice
for themselves.  Shouldn't the FSF be similarly altruistically
concerned about the users, and respectful of their judgement?

On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 5:50 PM, Ilya Shlyakhter  wrote:
> The only reason I see stated is "Proprietary software is a social and
> ethical problem, and our aim is to put an end to that problem."  What
> I don't see explained is why hiding proprietary software from users is
> the right way to end it.   I would think that the right way is
> out-compete proprietary software on the merits (both technical and
> philosophical), so that users, having had a full opportunity to
> evaluate the merits (technical and philosophical) of the free and
> non-free programs for their task, choose the free ones.  What is the
> harm, exactly, of referencing non-free software, if the reference is
> accompanied links to the FSF's arguments against using it?  If the
> arguments are as ironclad as the FSF thinks, users will heed them; but
> why not have the users decide whether the arguments are good?
>
> My question grows out of the discussion here:
> http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/emacs-orgmode/2018-01/msg00036.html
> .
>
> By protectionism, I mean artificially protecting free software from
> competition by restricting knowledge of the alternatives, the way
> countries protect domestic industries by restricting imports.  This
> can be good policy to help fledgling domestic industry get off the
> ground, but if done long-term, reduces incentives for the domestic
> industry to make high-quality goods.
>
> "Look at any kind of website. How often do they discuss alternatives
> to whatever their site is about." -- philosophy sites certainly do
> discuss alternatives.  I've seen some scientific software tools point
> to alternate tools for the same problem: "I think my tool is best, but
> here are the others, check for yourself".  These authors are so sure
> of the technical merit of their tool, that they're sure the users will
> voluntarily choose it over competitors.  Shouldn't the FSF be
> similarly sure of the philosophical merit of their software?  Or
> maybe, these authors are altruistically concerned about the users, and
> what users to use the best tool, even if the authors' own; and also
> respect users' judgement enough to trust them to make the best choice
> for themselves.  Shouldn't the FSF be similarly altruistically
> concerned about the users, and respectful of their judgement?
>
>
> On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 5:10 PM, Ian Kelling  wrote:
>>
>> Ilya Shlyakhter  writes:
>>
>>> FSF guidelines discourage referencing non-free software:
>>> https://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/References.html#References
>>>
>>> I see some 

Re: referencing non-free software

2018-01-08 Thread Ilya Shlyakhter
The only reason I see stated is "Proprietary software is a social and
ethical problem, and our aim is to put an end to that problem."  What
I don't see explained is why hiding proprietary software from users is
the right way to end it.   I would think that the right way is
out-compete proprietary software on the merits (both technical and
philosophical), so that users, having had a full opportunity to
evaluate the merits (technical and philosophical) of the free and
non-free programs for their task, choose the free ones.  What is the
harm, exactly, of referencing non-free software, if the reference is
accompanied links to the FSF's arguments against using it?  If the
arguments are as ironclad as the FSF thinks, users will heed them; but
why not have the users decide whether the arguments are good?

My question grows out of the discussion here:
http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/emacs-orgmode/2018-01/msg00036.html
.

By protectionism, I mean artificially protecting free software from
competition by restricting knowledge of the alternatives, the way
countries protect domestic industries by restricting imports.  This
can be good policy to help fledgling domestic industry get off the
ground, but if done long-term, reduces incentives for the domestic
industry to make high-quality goods.

"Look at any kind of website. How often do they discuss alternatives
to whatever their site is about." -- philosophy sites certainly do
discuss alternatives.  I've seen some scientific software tools point
to alternate tools for the same problem: "I think my tool is best, but
here are the others, check for yourself".  These authors are so sure
of the technical merit of their tool, that they're sure the users will
voluntarily choose it over competitors.  Shouldn't the FSF be
similarly sure of the philosophical merit of their software?  Or
maybe, these authors are altruistically concerned about the users, and
what users to use the best tool, even if the authors' own; and also
respect users' judgement enough to trust them to make the best choice
for themselves.  Shouldn't the FSF be similarly altruistically
concerned about the users, and respectful of their judgement?


On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 5:10 PM, Ian Kelling  wrote:
>
> Ilya Shlyakhter  writes:
>
>> FSF guidelines discourage referencing non-free software:
>> https://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/html_node/References.html#References
>>
>> I see some problems with this, and think it'd be better if the
>> standards addressed these questions head-on.
>>
>> To me, this prohibition looks like simple protectionism.  It's one
>> thing to promote free software by creating a free program superior to
>> a non-free one, pointing users to both, explaining the advantages of
>> the free program (including the freedom part), and then letting the
>> users decide.  It's quite another thing to simply hide the non-free
>> program from users.  I have seen software authors who are confident in
>> their work point to competing software right from their websites; for
>> me as a user, this promotes confidence in the author's own work.   Is
>> the assumption here that users are unable to see their own best
>> interests, even when presented with all the arguments?  If yes, that
>> seems disrespectful and paternalistic towards users.  If no, why not
>> point users to both free and non-free alternatives and trust them to
>> decide?
>
> The article mentions reasons and you haven't addressed them. Look at any
> kind of website. How often do they discuss alternatives to whatever
> their site is about. Rarely, any gnu is no different. Are they being
> disrespectful? I don't know what you mean by protectionism. Afaik, that
> is an economic policy.
>
> - Ian

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