No open FSF/GNU forum?

23 replies [Last post]
Time4Tea
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Joined: 07/16/2017

Maybe this has been discussed before, but does anyone else find it a little strange that there doesn't seem to be any FSF/GNU forum that is open to everybody?

I mean, I would think the FSF would want to be the focal point for online discussion and debate about free software, rather than leaving that void for others to fill. They have a forum for paying members, but surely that just serves to 'preach to the converted', rather than engaging and trying to persuade those that don't share their philosophy?

Where else do people go to discuss free software? (apart from on here, obviously!)

Ronmamita
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Joined: 08/13/2017

Hi Time4Tea
I am a neophyte attempting to convert to GNU and I think your comment is important and valid even if this topic was discussed many times past.
Years ago I gave up on converting my home network to GNU because my efforts to get Trisquel to work properly (hardware compatibility issues?) failed.
Now I am attempting this again and asked the forum for assistance.

Years ago, I didn't find the forum for help... and perhaps now some of us will provide "unofficial" IRC persistent FSF forum campaigning and discussions?
After I have a GNU home network I will need a IRC host, and will look into this.
In the meantime I encourage GNU supporters to do what you can to reach out beyond the already converted.

https://ronmamita.wordpress.com/
https://steemit.com/@ronmamita

Time4Tea
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Joined: 07/16/2017

Thanks for your input, Ronmamita. I hope you find the assistance that you need for your project :)

happy_gnu
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Joined: 08/06/2017

There are more than enough:

https://www.gnu.org/server/irc-rules.en.html

Ronmamita you don't need and IRC host. You need only a client like pidgin or hexchat to connect to IRC.

Ronmamita
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Joined: 08/13/2017

Hi happy_gnu, yes I know. I think the more the merrier and I do not run across FSF in most of my internet searches unless I specifically search for FSF or GNU.

I even forgot that webpage (https://www.gnu.org/server/irc-rules.en.html), though now I recall I've seen it before, LOL :)

Time4Tea
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Joined: 07/16/2017

Sure, but IRC isn't the same thing as a message board. They serve different purposes.

CitoplasmaX
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Joined: 11/24/2016

But you only can see actual history since you enter and you can't choose between a set of topics, you must participate on actual topic or nothing.

ADFENO
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Joined: 12/31/2012

Indeed, most of them isn't logged and so have no history. There are IRC
channels that tell you that they have IRC logs. I know that #guix and
#gnunet have such logs.

It's made by a bot of some sort, but I don't know which bot it is.

As for participating in a given topic: that is expected, keep on topic
and everything will go right. You can of course start a subtopic by
simply directing the message to a given person either in the same
channel, or by starting a private query, or even a temporary subchannel
(which I believe won't be logged unless a logger bot connects there).

2017-12-28T03:33:22+0100 name at domain wrote:
> But you only can see actual history since you enter and you can't
> choose between a set of topics, you must participate on actual topic
> or nothing.

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onpon4
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Joined: 05/30/2012

Honestly, even this forum is quite a bit of an echo chamber, and if the FSF was hosting such a forum it would probably be even worse, because that would make people more hesitant to criticize or disagree with the FSF. Also, people who don't already agree with the libre software movement don't join forums centered around it.

Arc
Arc
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Joined: 08/19/2017

I agree, but I think many people who find out about GNU/Linux and distros come across gnu.org or fsf.org early on. If the FSF had a public forum, it would definitely be noticed, and would probably be the largest forum for free software there is. Plus, mailing lists and IRC are antiquated forms of communication to a lot of people.

But, I'm sorta preaching to the coir here, I suppose the best thing to do would be to contact FSF and ask why there isn't such a forum already.

GNUbahn
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Joined: 02/19/2016

Though I can't speak for many others (a few though), I tend to disagree. I has used Linux (being unaware of the GNU part) for at least seven years before I ever heard of GNU ans FSF - or at least noticed it.

SuperTramp83

I am a translator!

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Joined: 10/31/2014

>I has used 'gnuxino'* for at least seven years before I ever heard of GNU ans FSF - or at least noticed it.

I has used da gnuxinos for 10 months, then one night Saint Ignucius appeared in my room and blessed my laptop.

I has used da blobs4win for 15 years prior to that, I has not payed attention between all that muh proprietary Gomez sessions and 'registry tweak and malware ointment and defragmentibus snaike oile for da gullible' :/

But as he saw the heavy regret of a mistaken past mixed with the sudden growing relief, yet uncertain the feeling on my adept face, Ignucius said to me on that very special night of his sudden manifestation in my room: 'fear not, young apprentice of the GAHNUU way, for the time lost is regained thrice and all the future seconds will be worth triple teh hours past'..

OC_04.png
calher

I am a member!

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Joined: 06/19/2015

I'm new to mailing lists, but I'm finding them more convenient than forums.

Time4Tea
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Joined: 07/16/2017

I'm not so sure it would make people more hesitant to criticize the FSF. If they are embracing the concept of free speech then they shouldn't have a problem with people dissenting or proposing alternative viewpoints. If you are confident that your philosophy is strong, then it should be able to stand up to the test of dissent and opposition. In my opinion, that is a part of healthy debate and should be encouraged.

I have to admit that I'm a bit of a newcomer to the 'free software movement' myself. I've been dabbling a bit with GNU/Linux over the past few years, but I'm just starting to realize how important free software is. What strikes me though is how fragmented the free software community seems to be. The online discussion seems to be broken up into numerous niche, distro-specific forums like this one (great that it is, I don't mean to knock it!). It really seems to be missing a central focal point to pull the community together.

Such a focal point would help to pool resources, ideas, projects among the community. It would also be more accessible and easier to find for those that are new to the concept of free software or those that aren't totally convinced, but want to ask questions or find out more about it. Otherwise, where do those people go to engage in the discussion? They're not going to go on IRC or pay money to join a closed forum and there's probably little chance of them finding a forum like this one. More likely, they're going to be snapped up by Ask Ubuntu, or somewhere like that, and they'll be given *their* version of free software (i.e. not free!).

Seems to me the FSF is missing an opportunity here to be that focal point. To Arc's point though, I agree that here probably isn't the best place to make this point. I probably should sign up as an FSF member and post it on their forum - I'd be interested to see what their response would be.

onpon4
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Joined: 05/30/2012

> If they are embracing the concept of free speech then they shouldn't have a problem with people dissenting or proposing alternative viewpoints.

I didn't say the FSF would censor people, I only said that people would be more hesitant to disagree with or criticize them. Simple reasoning, really: because the forum is run by them. There would be at least a little trepidation from the members.

> Otherwise, where do those people go to engage in the discussion?

Presumably they just contact whoever they heard about libre software from.

ADFENO
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Joined: 12/31/2012

There is the international LibrePlanet Activists ([1]) and also the local
LibrePlanet teams shown at LibrePlanet.org ([2]). However, be aware that
note of these are representing FSF, nor GNU. It's only a common place to
organize activies, and there is no guarantee that the groups and members
do stay aligned with the purposes and thoughts of the movement.

There are also other international teams that might be of interest [3].

Also, I somewhat have to agree with what was said with regards to
keeping an official and open forum and the risk of some messages bein
misunderstood. However, as far as I know, they do have a forum, but for
members only.

[1]
[2]
[3]

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Ronmamita
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Joined: 08/13/2017

Hi ADFENO, wishing good things for People living in Brazil, I heard from the corporate fake news - so maybe you'll drop in the troll lounge to chat when you can: https://trisquel.info/en/forum/what-happening-brazil

Cheers!

ADFENO
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Joined: 12/31/2012

I'll answer here instead, because the other forum category isn't
trackable through mailing list, and I hardly have time to stop and open
up the forum window in order to see what's up.

Brazil is somewhat turbulent now. Besides, unemployement is still a
thing, specially for us free/libre software activists because most works
related to computer usage says "requires _experience_ with Microsoft
Office", and even though one can --- and I do --- sign for a job that
doesn't require "experience" in one specific proprietary software (e.g.:
construction site food servant, human resource manager, store waiter or
vendor), it is still difficult to get hired because there is too many
people already in Brazil.

Furthermore, the country currently requires biometrical registry for
voting, and uses computers for voting, which it shouldn't do ([1][2]).

As for complying/making personal income tax receipts: The public pays
60% of their personal income in taxes per year just so that the current
public organization responsible for the personal income tax declaration
software makes it into a non-free one ([3]). There are community-made
alternatives, such as IRPF-Livre ([4]), Rnetclient ([5]), and Declara
([6]), these are all usable, because one can have his declaration
accepted, but the usage isn't user-friendly, and we need more people
(and universities?) contributing to these, specially because there are
some functions that are missing.

[1] .

[2] . The
author/interviewed in this article/transcript favors "printed" votes,
but I don't. The main idea from the referenced article is that there is
a problem, as always, with computers for registering votes.

[3] .

[4] .

[5] .

[6] .

name at domain writes:

> Hi ADFENO, wishing good things for People living in Brazil, I heard
> from the corporate fake news - so maybe you'll drop in the troll
> lounge to chat when you can:
> https://trisquel.info/en/forum/what-happening-brazil
>
> Cheers!
>

--
- https://libreplanet.org/wiki/User:Adfeno
- Palestrante e consultor sobre /software/ livre (não confundir com
gratis).
- "WhatsApp"? Ele não é livre. Por favor, use o GNU Ring ou o Tox.
- Contato: https://libreplanet.org/wiki/User:Adfeno#vCard
- Arquivos comuns aceitos (apenas sem DRM): Corel Draw, Microsoft
Office, MP3, MP4, WMA, WMV.
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Time4Tea
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Joined: 07/16/2017

Just to follow up on this thread I started a while ago:

I donated $10 to the FSF yesterday, because I was interested to try out their forum (as well as to contribute to their efforts on free software, of course!). I went on there, expecting to see a thriving free-software community, discussing various campaigns and projects. However, I must say I was disappointed by the lack of activity. I won't be any more specific, as I don't want to 'dish dirt' on another forum, but the activity is certainly less than on here. I guess it figures, seeing as it is only open to paying members.

Perhaps there really is a need for someone to set up a free, open and independent forum, which can act as a focal-point for the Free Software community? How hard is it to set up/maintain a forum?

J.B. Nicholson-Owens
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Joined: 06/09/2014

name at domain wrote:
> Perhaps there really is a need for someone to set up a free, open and
> independent forum, which can act as a focal-point for the Free Software
> community? How hard is it to set up/maintain a forum?

I think the concept of a focal point is wrongheaded, particularly when it
comes to free (as in freedom) discussion. Every free software project (even
different GNU distribution) will continue to make their own choices for
hosting and get into or avoid the problems I mention here. Also, we don't
need a single point of focus any more than any other topic discussed
anywhere needs one: let a thousand flowers bloom while recognizing that
some choices are better at achieving certain ends than others. There are
lots of books covering the same topics, lots of websites, and so on.
Software freedom or the GNU OS can (and so far has) gone the same way.

When it comes to what hosting software should be chosen, I find that web
forums are highly overrated and ultimately a problem, not a solution. There
are some concepts that have always been simply inappropriate for a
centralized deployment. Web forums are currently deployed in a centralized
way (on purpose) thus they are inherently censor-friendly, they're very
hard to get complete and provably accurate archives from (by design; bad
design choices), and they're likely to unnecessarily require Javascript
(JS) to be fully useful. These two problems are sufficient to arm any
anti-software freedom argument simply by pointing out the readily-apparent
ironies. Web forum moderators/hosters also like to put in ridiculous
non-features like rating systems on posts and use points gained/lost as a
default way to keep low-scoring posts from being seen right along side
high-scoring posts.

I maintain that proper scoring, filtering, or anything like that is
properly done only on the endpoint by the user, and done in a way that the
servers that client uses have no idea the scoring/filtering is being done.
In other words, my scores/filters are nobody else's business.

Unmoderated mailing lists are only marginally better than web forums as
commonly implemented today: no JS use needed (which is a huge plus and
completely avoids the nonfree-JS problem), and they're more likely to send
copies of posts immediately. Scoring systems implemented on mailing lists
are very likely to fail as there's no standard for such a thing with emails
(which is good). But they're still centralized; if one is kicked off the
list one has to use another email address and possibly some subterfuge to
get back on the list and that's not good. Public archives reading is easily
curtailed through subscriber-only archives, and web-based archive access
can also reintroduce the needless JS problem or fail to offer bulk archives
in useful formats (like a compressed mbox archive). GMane goes some way
toward fixing this, but even a hundred gmane workalikes wouldn't fix the
underlying centralization. Archives become less reliable because the same
party that could censor posts can also edit the archives (this problem
would go away with widespread support for public key crypto use, but that's
not popular enough to be practical for post verification now).

But netnews (particularly with widely distributed newsgroups available on
many news servers) is far better on this ground than either mailing lists
or web forums: no JS needed at all, scoring is optional and done at the
endpoint, and an increased chance of avoiding censorship through
competitive service delivery. If one NNTP server blocks one from posting
and/or reading there, or if some server admin does something foolish to the
posts, users can move to other servers. Single-server newsgroups are a
problem for the same reasons mailing lists and web forums are a problem --
a single point of failure and control (censorship) over the user.

Time4Tea
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Joined: 07/16/2017

I think we have some differences of opinion, which is fair enough. It seems that, in general, you are not much of a fan of forums, whereas I really am. I think they are a great system for online communication and discussion, especially for people who are not very computer-savvy. Also, for people who are newcomers to a scene, or just 'passing by' to take a quick look, forums have a significant benefit in that they are very open and visible and easy to find. Pretty much anyone can casually browse through what is being discussed, even if they don't want to get involved themselves (yet!).

I don't think the same can be said for the other communication methods that you mentioned. In my experience, mailing lists tend to be used more for discussion about a specific topic by those who are already somewhat invested. For newer or more casual participants, they are not that easy to find and they have little visibility externally for people who aren't subscribed to them. It's not really possible to casually browse a mailing list to see what's going on. At least, not very easily.

Netnews - I have no idea what that is and I haven't used it. And that's a problem. Because I'm talking about how, as a free software community, we engage with people who are new and want to find out more. I'm probably far more computer/internet-savvy than the average person and I've been using the web for a long time. So, if I don't know what netnews is, chances are that your average web surfer isn't going to either. Don't get me wrong, it might well be an amazing communication platform, but I'm just questioning how visible and accessible it is to less experienced users.

In general, a big factor in my thinking that we need a better central 'hub' for the free software community is how we communicate with newcomers. You're right that experienced community members and those that are already involved in free software projects might not use it, if they are happy with what they've got already. But, without a clearly visible central hub that is easy to find, how is the community supposed to engage properly and communicate with newcomers and those that want to find out more?

Are they going to find the Trisquel forum? Probably not. Are they going to log in to IRC or bother joining a mailing list. Probably not. More likely, as I said earlier in the thread, they will hang out at the nice, shiny forum of one of the larger distros (Ubuntu, Fedora) and get fed their version of 'free' instead.

FindEssential
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Joined: 08/23/2017

I have never seen a forum like you are talking about. All the forums I have ever seen are project specific (ie Ubuntu, Trisquel, Classic Car Restoration, etc), having a general "free software" forum would be incredibly hard to moderate. Moderating in a forum is a huge task, even on this relatively low traffic forum the depth of the troll lounge is rather cavernous. Honestly, I think this forum is a good deal too permissive and all too often allows threads that should have never been started to rage on for days with no response. The Ubuntu forum is a good example of what this forum could be. It is specific, well moderated, and has clear rules that are quickly enforced (not vague general statements).

I wouldn't trust the FSF to run such an endeavor either. Simply put their website is massive and not well maintained, it shows what happens when you are overly dependent on volunteers. Out of date information abounds on almost every page, a forum managed with that ethic would be a disaster. Having a forum for people who are members and as such likely wanting to advance a somewhat common political agenda around free software isn't a terrible idea....as long as it is also used by the FSF and its allies to organize actions, not collect ramblings.

The FSF is the largest and most recognizable member of our admittedly small community, if they don't have the resources to pull something like that off...I seriously doubt anyone else does. Likewise an independent forum would have other issues. For example I am active on Quora, a question and answer site. It has a large number of tech-interested and start-up people on it and I have attempted to help out with the free software area of the site a few times. Honestly, it just gets overrun with content about getting copies of proprietary software for free, using torrents, and a like because the new users don't know the difference between a free lunch and free speech. No matter what I do, within a couple hours the whole thing is off the rails again.

ADFENO
Offline
Joined: 12/31/2012

+1

2017-11-16T20:26:25-0600 J.B. Nicholson wrote:
>
> I think the concept of a focal point is wrongheaded, particularly when
> it comes to free (as in freedom) discussion. Every free software
> project (even different GNU distribution) will continue to make their
> own choices for hosting and get into or avoid the problems I mention
> here. Also, we don't need a single point of focus any more than any
> other topic discussed anywhere needs one: let a thousand flowers bloom
> while recognizing that some choices are better at achieving certain
> ends than others. There are lots of books covering the same topics,
> lots of websites, and so on. Software freedom or the GNU OS can (and
> so far has) gone the same way.
>
> When it comes to what hosting software should be chosen, I find that
> web forums are highly overrated and ultimately a problem, not a
> solution. There are some concepts that have always been simply
> inappropriate for a centralized deployment. Web forums are currently
> deployed in a centralized way (on purpose) thus they are inherently
> censor-friendly, they're very hard to get complete and provably
> accurate archives from (by design; bad design choices), and they're
> likely to unnecessarily require Javascript (JS) to be fully
> useful. These two problems are sufficient to arm any anti-software
> freedom argument simply by pointing out the readily-apparent
> ironies. Web forum moderators/hosters also like to put in ridiculous
> non-features like rating systems on posts and use points gained/lost
> as a default way to keep low-scoring posts from being seen right along
> side high-scoring posts.
>
> I maintain that proper scoring, filtering, or anything like that is
> properly done only on the endpoint by the user, and done in a way that
> the servers that client uses have no idea the scoring/filtering is
> being done. In other words, my scores/filters are nobody else's
> business.
>
> Unmoderated mailing lists are only marginally better than web forums
> as commonly implemented today: no JS use needed (which is a huge plus
> and completely avoids the nonfree-JS problem), and they're more likely
> to send copies of posts immediately. Scoring systems implemented on
> mailing lists are very likely to fail as there's no standard for such
> a thing with emails (which is good). But they're still centralized; if
> one is kicked off the list one has to use another email address and
> possibly some subterfuge to get back on the list and that's not
> good. Public archives reading is easily curtailed through
> subscriber-only archives, and web-based archive access can also
> reintroduce the needless JS problem or fail to offer bulk archives in
> useful formats (like a compressed mbox archive). GMane goes some way
> toward fixing this, but even a hundred gmane workalikes wouldn't fix
> the underlying centralization. Archives become less reliable because
> the same party that could censor posts can also edit the archives
> (this problem would go away with widespread support for public key
> crypto use, but that's not popular enough to be practical for post
> verification now).
>
> But netnews (particularly with widely distributed newsgroups available
> on many news servers) is far better on this ground than either mailing
> lists or web forums: no JS needed at all, scoring is optional and done
> at the endpoint, and an increased chance of avoiding censorship
> through competitive service delivery. If one NNTP server blocks one
> from posting and/or reading there, or if some server admin does
> something foolish to the posts, users can move to other
> servers. Single-server newsgroups are a problem for the same reasons
> mailing lists and web forums are a problem --
> a single point of failure and control (censorship) over the user.

ADFENO
Offline
Joined: 12/31/2012

I must also remind you all about this:

I just remembered that there *is* such kind of central group:
libreplanet-discuss, it's a public mailing list.

Group's page: https://libreplanet.org/wiki/Group:LibrePlanet_Activists

Mailing list information and subscription page:
https://lists.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/libreplanet-discuss

There are also local groups, but I don't know if all of them are aligned
with the software freedom practices and priorities (I also once saw a
local group page recommending a webpage that uses non-free JS, but that
page is probably more outdated than the texts related to non-free JS,
although I don't remember exactly which group it was).

If you do want to, check out the list of all known local groups:
https://libreplanet.org/wiki/LibrePlanet:Teams

If you can't find a local group, then it probably doesn't exist, in
which case you can create one. Follow these steps to do so:
https://libreplanet.org/wiki/LibrePlanet:Teams/New

2017-12-21T11:39:38-0200 Adonay Felipe Nogueira wrote:
> +1

--
- https://libreplanet.org/wiki/User:Adfeno
- Palestrante e consultor sobre /software/ livre (não confundir com
gratis).
- "WhatsApp"? Ele não é livre. Por favor, veja formas de se comunicar
instantaneamente comigo no endereço abaixo.
- Contato: https://libreplanet.org/wiki/User:Adfeno#vCard
- Arquivos comuns aceitos (apenas sem DRM): Corel Draw, Microsoft
Office, MP3, MP4, WMA, WMV.
- Arquivos comuns aceitos e enviados: CSV, GNU Dia, GNU Emacs Org, GNU
GIMP, Inkscape SVG, JPG, LibreOffice (padrão ODF), OGG, OPUS, PDF
(apenas sem DRM), PNG, TXT, WEBM.