I find it incredibly surprising that many or folk take the 0th pillar's "freedom of use" to mistakenly mean "freedom of usage by creating a software feature" instead of the true intended meaning: "freedom of usage under the license conditions".

Because that's what RMS has always been about: the software licenses being symmetrical in power between the distributor of software and receiver of software. It creates a level playing field in terms of what "politics" are contained in the software.

Because that is the core of Software Freedom/Liberty: the right for a Person to take a software that expresses a [political] view they disagree with, obtain a copy of that software with equal capability as the distributor, modify that [political] view to be more amenable, and then redistribute it without any additional licensing burdens.

It's never about what specific views or capabilities are in the software itself. Heck, you could fork and purposefully add bugs and it is still no less Freedom respecting.

So trying to argue the 0th pillar "freedom of use" is about specific software capabilities is mistaken. It's a gateway to the un-reconcilable "well N users demand my software have feature X, and an equal number also demand an incompatible feature Y." How could one ever satisfy the 0th pillar under this condition, and why would RMS never discuss this situation?

Perhaps because it is the wrong interpretation. :) RMS spends time at the "licensing level", not at the "what does your software do exactly" level.

Apparently, these lines of arguments are so convincing that some feel the only proper rebuttal is to remind me that "I am not RMS", which I take to be a compliment. I respect RMS but it would be unfortunate to discover now that we are the same person.

@cj while I agree in principle I think it's murky territory to conflate what Tusky did vis-a-vis Gab with implementing a feature or not. If Tusky removed boosts for everyone the freedom of use is respected: anyone can use Tusky to do what Tusky is designed to do. If they removed boosts only for left-handed people then freedom of use is infringed because not everyone can use Tusky the same way.

That said, I use Tusky and I think Gab should be de-federated.

@cj it isn't about what features the software has, but rather if one can get the software binary, then they are entitled to the source as well, per the license. Gab could for Tusky, call it "Gab mobile," then patch out the block mechanism. They could distribute "Gab mobile." That is how the license is supposed to work, right?

@paperdigits Yep. In fact, Gab has already done something like this to Tusky, I think.

@cj Instead of screaming at @Tusky how about you make your own?


...because I use Tusky, support the choice the devs made, want to continue to financially support it, and am happy to not make my own.

It sounds like you're mistaking my position for someone else's, and mistaking verbosity for some sort of internet rage.


@cj I suppose I was not clear. That was directed twords the people yelling at @Tusky, not you.

@cj I think you're straining at the gnat & swallowing the camel. I can accept the arcane points stated here about FOSS, maybe Tusky is still FOSS "free". I think we're missing the big issue: Many saw the toots trying to pressure instances to ban gab, apps to ban gab, egging on monopolists Google & Apple to ban the "bad" apps. People can see that this was an attempt to collude & deny freedom to Gab users. People see through this FOSS side debate to the issue of real freedom

@AndreiRublev1 I disagree. The Freedom and Rights granted to users by FLOSS is just as real as other Freedoms/Rights such as free speech of users, free speech of developers, the right of association, right of privacy, etc.

I think, and maybe you do too, that it is a balance of these rights that are needed. Not demeaning one set (FLOSS) as lesser.

I still think that the FLOSS Freedoms will allow determined hate speechers to circumvent any code bans, preserving their Freedom.

@cj Not demeaining one set as lesser. Think of it like this: Suppose the anti-Gab campaign had been totally successful. The result would have been a complete crippling of Gab (oddly by, in part, partnering with anti-freedom big tech). Can you see that people would think it very hollow and inconsistent to read arguments from groups touting FLOSS freedom, yet many of those same groups had in practice acted to severely deprive those people of their freedom to use Gab?

@cj Had the anti-Gab campaign been a total success, I think ordinary people looking at this would rightly wonder: "What good is FLOSS freedom when many of these same groups colluded to deprive Gab users of their freedom to use Gab? Where is the consistent commitment to freedom? It does not make sense to, under the cover of FLOSS freedom, deprive Gab users of their freedom. Why do some say it is fine to use one freedom to deprive others of another freedom?"

@AndreiRublev1 I don't think your premise is possible: users can still always used forked software. Just means there will be two Fediverse that refuse to communicate with each other, or have sparse bridges. And the cultural/societal force pushes people to the non-hate-speech less-potential-real-world-violence outcome. That's a feature and morally good outcome in my book.

Gab can't ever get kicked off the Fediverse. No deplatforming. They can be isolated to wallow on their own.

@AndreiRublev1 And again you keep using the "FLOSS Freedom" meme that has been repeatedly debunked. Regardless of their isolation, Gab users always have and retain their FLOSS Freedom. It's just other Freedoms like association that let people isolate Gab. No hypocrisy with FLOSS Freedoms just different values for other Freedoms. The balancing act between freedoms and rights of different people.

@cj Sorry, not sure what you mean by the "FLOSS freedom" meme. I only use that term truly and simply because I don't know how else to describe the freedoms inherent in FLOSS as part of a 500 character limit toot! ;)

@cj Well, you are adressing how things would likely play out (I think you're right); my point is about the mindset motivating those who attempted to ban Gab, who touted the FLOSS freedom of apps that were made to ban Gab while hoping thereby to deprive Gab users of their freedom to use Gab.

@AndreiRublev1 Please read my post and my blog post linked from within:


Your usage of the word "usage" in terms of "using Gab" is of the software feature kind, which is not what FLOSS pillars are about. Instead it is about "usage" of the license kind.

@AndreiRublev1 TL;DR: they still have the freedom to use as a software feature Gab, even if the software has a feature to block Gab, because the user has the Freedom (FLOSS) to fork and remove the block without any license restriction.

@cj I understand your distinctions, and think you are correct. But,

1) Had the anti-Gab people met all their goals, I think, practically speaking, Gab would have been unable to widely disseminate a forked app - an attack on the freedom of Gab users (clearly that was part of the ultimate goal).

2) The common guy is going to see talk of FLOSS type freedom as meaningless when he sees people also trying to prevent Gab from getting forked apps into the hands of users.

@AndreiRublev1 I think the "attack on dissemination of a forked app" is hypothetical, right now. There's already plenty of forked apps available for side loading or on proprietary app stores. So no reason to spread FUD.

@cj it's the difference between how a program is setup vs how the license is setup.

So if it won't technically connect to a particular server that's one thing but for the license to prohibit that connection is another.

@cj Agreed, this notion that "freedom to use" somehow extends into the development stage is truly bizarre. And reeks of entitlement.

@cj In unrelated news, rename Gnu Image Manipulation Program to GnuIMP?

@cj Some people have noticed that the term GIMP is a bit ableist. It came up as a mention in the linked piece.

Anyways, I'm suggesting the slightly longer GnuIMP abbreviation.

@cj @octet33 the conversation on GNU-IMP went nowhere, so it has been forked.
See @glimpse :)

@cj UGH, I thought that Alex Gleason twat seemed familiar.

So on top of being a transphobe, he's a nazi sympathiser too. :blobrollingeyes:

@Jo I don't have the background you do, but it sounds like I've probably jumped into a tire fire.

@cj (And tbh, defending Gab doesn't exactly come as a surprise either. The Venn diagram between TERFs and fascists is horrifically close to being a circle)

@Jo Gotcha. I myself am in a bubble and haven't been too exposed to TERFs so I take heed of your warning.


Obviously, โ€œfor any purposeโ€ has to have reasonable limits. I canโ€™t run FLOSS software meant for a microwaveโ€™s microcontroller to mine cryptocurrency. I canโ€™t use GIMP to be my bank software. So what are those reasonable limits?

This is still a fallacious way of interpreting the problem. The sensible interpretation would be that "any purpose" represents any purpose the application is meant to serve explicitly, which in GIMP's case would be editing images, not doing banking.

@mariusor How do you define "sensible" in a general moral context though?

That's a can of worms you *don't* want to do when developing a general moral framework for philosophy, because then you're stuck on a case-by-case relativistic process.

RMS doesn't live on that level of thinking. He consistently discusses "usage" in terms of more general and abstract concepts applying to a person's Rights and Freedoms. Specific "sensible" features is intractible.

@cj well, exactly, I would not define it in a moral context. Well, unless that the purpose itself establishes the moral context (eg, applications that enable cracking passwords, etc).

@mariusor Let me rephrase: How would you define "sensible features" in a freedom-respecting way?

FLOSS doesn't. It leaves that question up for everyone. It only says "You must respect each others' rights to impose their own morality on their software via the 4 pillars, as they are the mechanisms for a level playing ground. Fork and quibble over the 'sensible feature' definition."

Otherwise the loudest/popular feature requests get implemented. And that isn't necessarily the morally good outcome.


Maybe I botched the use of sensible.

I meant it as "the way a person with common sense" would interpret the purpose of the software to be.

Usually this is declared by the software developer(s)[1].

But it is not the contrived example that you used: trying to make GIMP do banking.

So, I'm sorry if I'm missing a point that you're trying to make.

[1] gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gimp/bl

Mastodon violates freedom 0 by not allowing me to full-text search all posts my instance knows about to find people to ~harass~ debate.


This is more like my point: if FLOSS were defined as you had in mind, how does that reconcile with each person's idea of "common sense" (some users have very weird pitches, especially non technical folk), why doesn't RMS discuss this tension, and what's the proper way to determine whether a piece of software is fulfilling it's "common sense" via the license?


@norm @cj see what I said later in the discussion about what I mean by "sensible". You are now, not being sensible.

Yes but the question is then: "who are you to make that judgement?" My interpretation of the 0th pillar says "each person for themselves" and avoids passing the judgement you make entirely, which is why you don't catch RMS pushing for software having specific social justice features.


@cj erm, I did not make a judgement about the 0th pillar problem. I stated an opinion about what _my_ interpretation is. I have no problem with other people interpreting it differently - I do get a bit upset if they consider theirs to be the "true intended meaning" though.

However this discussion started because I objected to an uncharitable simile for GIMP as banking software to support your "0th pillar is not about usage" thesis. You did not really reply to it (unless I'm denser than Pt). :)


And to sum up: you made a good case for why 0th pillar is more about the licensing than about the use of the software, so I'll probably stop getting involved in those discussions.

Yet my feeling about explicitly forbidding people to use your software is scummy, no matter who those people are.

@mariusor I agree with you! Forbidding people from "using" software in general feels gross. I put "using" in quotes because by my 0th interpretation, Gab users can still "use" it by exercising their right to fork and all those pillars. It's no less "usable" because they still have their Freedom. We probably disagree on this, that's ok. :)

However, since this software change has a nonzero chance of reducing hate speech, violence, or white supremacy, I view it as a feature.

@mariusor You're right -- sorry. My GnuIMP exaggeration was trying to showcase the "Mastodon doesn't let me full text search all toots" problem but at an extreme scale. Who am I to judge which of these two are more sensible or fall in scope or are the future of the project? My interpretation of 0th defers that to each individual by respecting their rights to fork and disagree. If I interpreted 0th to be specific software features, then I have to make everyone happy or else judge.

I can't believe people are making Tha argument. It's total nonsense.

The 0th pillar is still upheld because the right and capability to remove or alter the gab ban is upheld.

The 0th pillar doesn't guarantee that software must do exactly what you want it to, it guarantees that you will be able to make it do whatever you want it to.

@cj Excellent write-up. I'll probably be referring to this if I have to deal with this tired pillar 0 argument again.

@cj the fact that is is somehow still a discussion is embarrassing

@cj "censorship for any reason is wrong" says the person who is fully aware the current discussion is about nazis

I think this corrects my own misunderstanding of the 0th pillar.

Wouldn't this mean that if my software includes a DRM, but the license does not prevent people from breaking the DRM, and I've released the source code of the software, including the DRM, it's still free software. Obviously this would be astronomically dumb if someone did this, but I don't think it would be nonfree, would it?

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