[Off Topic] Words to Avoid "Vendor" [was Re: Questions to answer]

[crossposting removed]

Subject changed to reflect the off topic nature of this discussion,
and to summarize the point being made in the previous message.

On Sat, 26 Nov 2005, Richard M. Stallman wrote:

> Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2005 11:22:22 -0500
> From: Richard M. Stallman <rms gnu org>
> To: Brian Cameron <Brian Cameron Sun COM>
> Cc: release-team gnome org, jrb redhat com, federico ximian com,
>      foundation-list gnome org, murrayc murrayc com
> Subject: Re: Questions to answer
>     I would be happy to help out.  As Jonathan mentions, Murray and I have
>     been sorting through some of the issues on live.gnome.org by putting
>     together an Interface Specification that is hopefully useful to ISV's
> Does "ISV" stand for "Independent Software Vendor"?  If so, the term is
> often misleading, because the most important developers of GNOME
> applications--those developing free software--are mostly not vendors.

The important point is the need for clear documentation making it easier
for those who want to work with Gnome including businesses which self
identify under the term ISV.  I'm sure the intention was not to exclude

Users do not need to pay to be customers but fortunately in that case we
have the term stakeholder which is already widely understood.  Similarly
vendors strictly need not sell and any software distributor can be called
a vendor.

> Consider, for instance, the GIMP developers.

Another acronym which can cause misunderstanding and embarassment when
talking to people who are more familiar with the the term 'gimp' as an
offensive description of people with disabilities.

I don't doubt the importance of the words we use.  My point is acronyms
are ambiguous, confusing, and exclusionary.  (Another minor downside of
acronyms is it annoying both to type and read things in UPPERCASE and
failing to properly punctuate acronyms like G.N.O.M.E. looks odd to

> Their program works with GNOME, but project is not a vendor.  GNU Emacs
> now has GTK+ support, but we Emacs developers are not a vendor.

> Every time a standard describes the projects that develop or
> distribute software as "vendors", that has the effect of denying the
> existence of volunteer projects.

Interesting assertion but entirely the important issue at hand was
encouraging more people to use Gtk and Gnome and Free Software (which I
really wish could have been was unambiguously called "Freedom Software"
and saved us all a lot of grief, it is not too late you know).

> So please, let's use a different term for GNOME application developers
> in general, one which fits all of them, and particularly fits our own
> community.  Perhaps we could refer to them as GNOME Application
> Developers (GADs), or more generally, Independent Software Developers
> (ISDs).

Is replacing one acronymn with another really an improvement?

In this context we could just as easily describe third party developers as
"Partners" or possibly some other succint one or two word phrase and
emphasizes cooperation and collaboration and avoids the ambiguity of yet
another acronym.

I don't doubt the importance of the words we use, which is why I try and
discourage people from using unneccessary confusing words and acronyms
which exclude otherwise intelligent people who just happen to be
unfamiliar with computer or other scientific jargon.  (Don't you
appreciate when doctors explain things to you in terms you can
understand?)  It doesn't help that acronyms make English even more opaque
and confusing for those who do not know the language well.

All this is terribly off topic and an awful distraction from the point
being made about the need for a clear specifiction to help encourage the
use of Free Software and Gnome.

Best of luck to the candidates and thanks to them for taking the time and
effort to answer all the questions.


Alan Horkan

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