Re: Thanks, and a Brief Survey

On Fri, 2010-01-15 at 11:31 -0800, Lefty (石鏡 ) wrote:
> On 1/15/10 11:10 AM, "Owen Taylor" <otaylor redhat com> wrote:
> > 
> > We certainly all know that RMS believes that. Some other GNOME community
> > members may as well, though probably not a large number. It, is however,
> > your choice to focus on it, and I don't understand what you are trying
> > to achieve by doing that.
> > 
> >  - Are you trying to argue down RMS? I've certainly never seen that
> >    work in 15 years.

  I apologize if this implies any disrespect to RMS; if I was writing
  for public consumption, I would certainly have added that I've known
  RMS to be very reasonable when presented with new information or a
  strong argument about how some goal should be accomplished. He just
  doesn't compromise on his principles.

  It's always good to be reminded never to say anything in private
  email that you would phrase differently in public, since these
  mistakes do happen. :-)


> > By posting something on foundation-list, I feel that you are pretty
> > explicitly saying it is related to GNOME.
> I can't help how you feel, Owen. I _can_ assure that its only relation to
> GNOME is that members of GNOME are most certainly members of the target
> audience I'm seeking.


> I think you may be reading quite a bit more into this than I'd intended. Do
> you have an objection to the questions in the survey simply being _asked_,
> Owen...?

It's very hard not to take the survey as a continuation of the recent
discussions on this list, which I felt at the time to be highly
unproductive. It was long and acrimonious discussion largely about
changes to policy that hadn't actually been proposed. 

I don't think I'm at all alone in taking the survey that way. The
purpose of the survey seems to be to collect data to support (or
possibly refute) your position.

I also feel that the survey is quite flawed, and after going through
most of it decided not to submit my answers because by submitting it I
would be misrepresenting my opinion on proprietary software.
Imagine that somebody wrote an article based on the results of your
survey. The results would show that:

 Many "FOSS" developers don't consider proprietary software
   immoral, or illegitimate.

 Many "FOSS" developers sometimes use proprietary software.

And in fact I'd up in both of those categories. And somebody reading the
article would get the impression that "FOSS" developers don't think
there is a moral dimension to Free Software. Yet I strongly believe:

 - That picking Free Software over proprietary software is the right
   thing to do even when there is a cost to me such as less

 - That a world where a task can't be done with Free Software is a
   worse world.

And that wouldn't be represented at all. In that way, it felt a bit like
the sort of surveys you see taken by political action groups with an
agenda. That may well not have been your intent - but I think we have to
be aware that survey construction is hard, and the very construction of
a survey and reporting of survey results is not a neutral activity; it's
a form of public relations.

And none of us can escape the fact that by being a GNOME member, by
speaking on GNOME forums like foundation-list and, and
by being part of GNOME bodies, whether the sysadmin team, or the
advisory board, we speak as part of GNOME. 

That doesn't mean self-censorship, but it does mean that we have to
watch what sort of conversation we are part of, and whether they are
productive, or entertaining at the cost of being damaging to GNOME's
image. Here, if there are specific changes that you think should be made
to GNOME's policies, I think those should be the things we should be
discussing, rather than abstract attitudes toward proprietary software.

- Owen

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