Re: Questions for candidates

Hi Richard,

Thanks for the detailed response. Comments and questions inline:
  > Oh wait, I think I do actually see what you mean now.... You're concerned
  > about the message we send out if we use non-free software to promote GNOME
  > and things like this e.g. git servers and social networking?

You've identified the issue, but you're focusing only on the possible
negative side of it.  Using nonfree software to promote GNOME would
associate GNOME with the idea that nonfree software is ok.  Promoting
GNOME that way would help the cause in a narrowly focused way (more
users, more development of GNOME _are_ good, all else being equal) at
the cost of harming it in a broader and deeper way.

The issue has positive side, too.  In promoting GNOME, it is possible
to talk about freedom explicitly, and talk about choices that GNOME
has made for the sake of freedom.  Thus, while helping the cause in a
narrowly focused way, you help the cause in a broader and deeper way
at the same time.

One can spread a bad message by visibly using an unethical resource;
however, choosing ethical resources does not _by itself_ spread a good
message because it does not communicate anything.  To spread the good
message, you have to say it overtly.

I guess my main question would be: Can we say it overtly as a c3 charity? Given that the FSF is one then I am imagining the answer to that is "yes", but my initial gut impression was that this wouldn't be the case. Either way, I'm all for us using free tools and services and avoiding dodgier ones. I reckon it's good for us to be clear on that before deciding to be overt or political about anything, but if it is I don't see any reason why we should be afraid to that, personally.

For instance, carrying an iThing around with you is enough to endorse
Apple, but NOT carrying an iThing doesn't convey rejection of Apple.
To show that you reject iThings on ethical grounds, you need to say

Note that there's nothing wrong with "git servers" in general.  Some
are bad, some are ok.  Doesn't GNOME maintain its own repository?
It can and should make sure its repository is entirely good.

Also, "social networking" in general is not a bad thing.

I had not meant to suggest that social networking is a bad thing either, I just meant to indicate an example where non-free services are floating about (same deal with git servers).
Social networking systems vary greatly, so they can be good or bad, depending
on details.  Facebook is atrocious and we shouldn't encourage people
to be useds of Facebook.  On the other hand, using GNU Social is fine.
Twitter used to be ok until it started making users identify
themselves, last year I think, but it is still POSSIBLE to use it
without running nonfree software, last I heard.

I get the impression most people only feel they need to use Facebook because it has been imposed on them. Nowadays it's easy to fall completely out of "the loop" without an account especially for students who literally cannot comprehend how anyone could not use a Facebook account and will organise everything they do on there acting on the assumption that nobody will be left out. People who move around a lot and those who wish to promote something can also get sucked into the Facebook trap. I have to admit I have a fairly lively Facebook account myself and I manage several pages too, but I agree that Facebook is atrocious in several significant ways and the world would certainly be a better place without it. So, at the risk of seeming like a hypocrite, I have to say that I would still advocate we move away from using it to publicise GNOME. Not only because it could seem like too much of a GNOME endorsement of what Facebook is about, but also because we run the risk of excluding members of the community who do not use Facebook by publishing updates on there which could fail to get published in other places too. I do not get the impression we actually gain much from using Facebook to promote what we do at the moment anyway, so on balance it just doesn't seem worth the trade off. With that said, I am not sure whether the general consensus would agree with me on that one and GNOME accounts integration for it would probably be another matter altogether!

At the moment it's quite difficult to make any promises on what could be delivered concerning what you have put forward about these things, yet these sorts of existential questions seem likely to pop up recurrently at GNOME, if not collectively answered... I suspect it might be worth raising a debate about this once the board has been confirmed. That way, the community can all figure out what we agree on, decide what we think GNOME's stance should be and then perhaps even put something concrete into policy.

Advertising is not inherently bad, but if you sell ads on a site via
Google, you're likely to find it shows ads for nonfree software on
your site.  Unfortunately Google offers no way to filter ads based on
this criterion. 

Also, internet advertising today normally means tracking visitors, and
tracking visitors is direct mistreatment of them -- which is worse
than merely conveying a bad message to them.  See

A while ago, I raised a bug about the tracking cookies we were using on web servers and everyone collectively decided it would be the right thing to do to get rid of all the cookies in the end, so I get the impression a lot of members of the community are already on the same page about this.[1] What is your take on the use of free software which tracks its visitors (e.g. piwik which is what GNOME was using before we got rid of the cookies) or affiliate links when it comes to digital advertising?


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