Talk:Free software/Archive 4

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Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5

Free vs Open

"While most open source software is also free software and vice-versa, this is not always the case"

That is not a good explanation. Every free (as in freedom) software is open source, but not every (though most) open source software is free software. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 17:41, 5 January 2007 (UTC).

"Large FLOSS Study Gets the Real Facts"

Article on Slashdot; link to PDF. Summary from Slashdot also gives a better insight on the importance of this document: "The European Commission's enterprise and industry department has just released the final draft of what could be the biggest academic interdisciplinary study on the economic / innovative impacts of free/libre/open source software (1.8-MB PDF). The study was done by an international consortium led by the United Nations University / University of Maastricht. The lead researcher, Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, has overseen a large volume of FLOSS studies in the last few years, including ones on FLOSS policies and worldwide FLOSS adoption." This PDF contains a gigantic amount of information that can be added to the article. —msikma (user, talk) 14:12, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Inaccurate definition

Removed from the first sentence: "beyond the requirement that the source code must be made available for any binary distribution of another party's free software". This is nonsense. The FSF's definition of free software does not require that it be copyleft; copyleft is a technique used by the FSF to keep its own software free, but the FSF still considers many licenses which permit binary redistribution without source code to be free software licenses. 21:07, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

About "with little or no restriction" in the first paragraph

If you glance at the fsf's site, they say the following:

"We serve the free software community by providing the public with a "knowledge infrastructure" surrounding the GNU GPL and free software licensing, and enforcing the license on FSF-copyrighted software."

"Today the GNU GPL is the most widely used Free Software license, and as its author, the FSF works to help the wider community use and comprehend it."

And much more to the effect that they authored the GPL and promote it as their primary license for free software. So yes, in establishing their stance on restrictions that are a part of what they call "free software", the GPL is absolutely pertinent.

- 07:09, 24 January 2007 (UTC)

I think I can see what you're trying to say. You're objecting to the "little or no restriction" because you view the requirement to share-and-share-alike as being more than a "little" restriction. But this article has to explain what defines free software, not the implementation of the current top licence. I've reworded the intro, what do you think? Gronky 22:29, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
Nice work - it captures the issue without being judgemental. RossPatterson 22:40, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it's explicit enough. This isn't an advertising page for the FSF, this is an encyclopedia article which should present the facts in an impartial and unbiased way. I do understand the concern that stating the FSF's official definition without any rewording is only fair, but a following statement of fact about their implementation is also in order. I'll try to work with what you've written, but I must insist on presenting facts about their free software license, not just the ideological niceties that they would have people hear. 23:12, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
Criticising copyleft is not the way to start an article which a normal person can understand. When someone arrives at the first paragraph, the often won't know that free software works by granting rights through licences, so that has to be explained first. They also often won't know how these freedoms are usually blocked, and thus why licences are necessary at all. So that also has to be explained first. I'll try again. (BTW, if you intend sticking around, it would be good to make an account.) Gronky 14:10, 26 January 2007 (UTC)
Done. I tried to stay within the topic of defining free software, but I have mentioned the requirements which copyleft places on distributor, and mentioned that copyleft is oft-debated. Howzat? (And RossPatterson, I hope I haven't changed the spirit of the content too much and that you also still think it's fitting, or more comments are welcome.) Gronky 14:36, 26 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but wikipedia isn't a place for sanitized POV articles. It's a place for journalistic, brutally accurate articles written from a neutral point of view, and presenting all pertinent facts, covering all sides of a subject. If you're going to continually censor and sanitize the introduction to this article so that it sounds like advertising for the FSF, we're going to have to have this mediated. The introduction should accurately present both(all) sides of the subject, in factual, objective terms, rather than being a one-sided ideological definition from which absolutely no meaningful or tangible fact can be derived. Your writing is no better than saying "the republican party is a party that supports freedom, economic growth, and strong foreign policy," it's not factually based or tangibly meaningful, it can mean anything. Also, I have no obligation to create an account, and that's not your concern. 23:48, 26 January 2007 (UTC)
Making an account has benefits: WP:ACCOUNT. Go to the mods if you like, but think before taking up their time. Gronky 15:14, 27 January 2007 (UTC)
I've rewritten a significant portion of the introduction. Maybe we can agree to rework/work around any hard facts, but not to remove them, and to only add hard facts, rather than any ideological, subjective, or speculative commentary. I've also added references to other articles that define terms like software, source code, and license. I think that's preferable to defining the terms here. 00:08, 27 January 2007 (UTC)
Not remove hard facts? I wrote an explanation what the perceived problem is, how copyright law creates the perceived problem, and how software licences fix it - and you removed that information and replaced it with an intro which talks about the GPL before the reader has any idea of what a software licence is or why one is necessary. Your version lets wikilinks suffice to explain the details and instead focuses on your reasons for disagreeing with the word "free" being used in the term. Read what you've written and imagine you don't know what source code is, what software licences are - it's senseless. Or imagine a reader who wouldn't know how to exercise most of those freedoms anyway and who therefore isn't able to see that he/she doesn't have those freedoms - if they ask the question "Sure, amn't I free to do those things with Microsoft Windows?". You're version tells that person nothing. I agree with all your "lets write a brutally accurate article etc. etc." statements, but lets also try to inform the reader of what the article is about. Gronky 15:25, 27 January 2007 (UTC)
I've updated the arrangement of the introduction to try to reflect what you're describing, with an explanation of the issue leading into the FSF's stance and methodology, and followed by some possible implications. I've also tried to keep it factual and POV, rather than sounding as if it supports or opposes the FSF, though what is/is not POV can be difficult to define. Let's see if we can make this thing mutually satisfactory. 18:32, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

Problem 1

There're still problems. The first problem is a good example: the article now starts by saying that certain freedoms are hampered... but this is not an article about the current state of software freedoms in the early 21st century, this is an article about free software. It should start by saying what free software is, then it should go on to give the details of how software exists as free software today and the history of how it existed in the past. Said another way: it should introduce the topic, and then explain the context the topic exists in, rather than explaining the context and inserting the topic at an arbitrary point. These are not issues of POV, this is just about how to make a well-written article. Gronky 15:27, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

How ironic. I originally wrote it the way you describe, starting with a free software definition. You complained that there was no context and the reader would be confused, so I moved some of your contextualizing statements into places they shouldn't be in order to accommodate your writing style and seek some compromise here, and now you're using it as an excuse to completely revert my edits. Maybe you should have reverted to my original version, which didn't have the problem you're referring to. 18:15, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
No, I previously pointed out that you were introducing related topics such as copyleft and the GPL before saying why copright and software licences were involved. The problem that i've labelled "problem 1" is a different problem because "free software" is the topic of the article, it's not a subtopic where the relevance has to be shown to the reader before the subtopic is explained. Gronky 18:38, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
I think that with the exception of a single sentence, my entire text is focused on the FSF's concept of free software, not on software at no cost. You made various complaints about a lack of technical framing which could leave the reader confused, and that's why I tried to place the relevant information as early as possible. 18:45, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
You've just made the same mistake again! You've defined "free software" by referring to "proprietary software"! The article cannot assume that the reader knows what "proprietary software" is. You've got you're context all wrong again. Gronky 19:07, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
I've attempted to solve the problem. 19:18, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
That's no better, the reference is still there. It might even be worse because you're saying that proprietary software is "particular" among software that isn't free, thus introducing an even more complicated idea of there being a scale. Such a scale does exist, but that level of detail is unnecessary in most circumstances and the vast majority is at either end of the scale anyway - but why use such a complicated reference when no reference is needed? Gronky 00:31, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Problem 2

Second problem: you've changed the topic of the article to the words "free" and "software" rather than the term "free software". The combination of the two words can have various meanings, but this article is about the term, this was decided a long time ago after plenty of discussion and the consensus was very strong. The term has one accepted meaning, and the most respected definition is The Free Software Definition, and the definition is listed and discussed there. Gronky 15:32, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

I put some thought into this and put things the way I did for a reason. What you seem to want, here, is language control, where wikipedia militantly stands by the assertion that the entire world has/should have only one definition for the term "free software." Pretending that this definition is universal or somehow superior to all others is POV and non-journalistic--it's not wikipedia's role or goal to forceably shape language--but I did make a conscious effort to minimize any discussion of the subject of no-cost software, its history, implications, etc... I did specifically try to keep in mind that this article is about Stallmanist/FSF-style free software, but I also tried not to pretend that this definition is the only existent or valid definition, which I believe is POV. I actually considered your here's the right way to speak and write attitude to be one of the problems with your text that made it sound like POV advertising. 18:15, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Encyclopedias split articles into topics, and each topic has a title. Software that comes with the freedoms to use, study, modify, copy, and redistribute in modified or unmodified form is one topic. Wikipedia puts that into an article. The title given to that topic is "free software". For a discussion of all meanings that "free" can have in relation to software, a dictionary would be a good place. The people who run Wikipedia even host such a dictionary: Wiktionary. Gronky 18:42, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
The article can be about free software without being written from the perspective that free software is the one true definition. This article should be about the FSF's definition, but it shouldn't be POV in the sense of asserting or alluding to that definition being universally correct. Maybe someone somewhere has a definition of "free software" that refers to free floating pieces of data storage that have made their way into orbit by way of damaged space craft, and we could have an article that documents that concept and usage, but obviously we wouldn't say "free software means free floating .." We would say "Nasa's jet propulsion labs often use the term free software in reference to .." if we're being journalistic. 18:51, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
There is no one true definition. FSF have a definition, and it's the main one. Debian also have a definition. And Open Source Initiative also have a definition (in which they refer to free software as "open source software"). The important thing is that there is a generally accepted definition. This article is about the generally accepted definition, and one person or ten people who have ideas of floating software does not change that the general definition of free software is software which can be copied, modified, etc. etc. If you find another definition, it can go in another article (although it will probably be deleted for failing wikipedia's "not notable" criteria). Gronky 19:11, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Ok, here's probably a clearer explanation. The article starts off by saying "Free software is a term...". A term. Big software, blue software, great software, and mega software are not terms, they are phrases or description. Free software, when talking about the adjective which could mean no-cost plus the word "software", is in that same category, it's a phrase or a description. This article is not about that, it is about the term. The term refers to the general definition, which is software with the freedoms to.... etc. Gronky 19:18, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
When you go to write an encyclopedia, dictionary, or other journalistic publication, you don't choose sides. You don't suggest, promote, or enforce practice or lifestyle, you simply provide neutral, factual documentation of what people and things exist, are doing, and have been or done. The assertion that the meaning assigned to "free software" by Richard Stallman and the FSF is somehow better or worse than other meanings may or may not be a valid point, but it's beyond the scope of a journalistic publication or record of fact to try to draw a subjective or value-oriented judgment. The subject of this article is documenting the facts of a specific definition, but it's not the place of the article to take a side and promote a usage or practice. 19:28, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
FSF's definition is the generally accepted definition of the term "free software". The other definitions that exist are all based on FSF's and are all very similar or practically identical. These are facts, not value judgements. Gronky 19:32, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
A search for free software on google yields numerous pages that are using the words differently from the FSF's usage. I've seen and heard many usages, and in my experience, references to software that has no cost have been the majority. Either way, if you have some facts about statistics, add them, like According to a recent study, 76% of the time north americans use the phrase free software, they're talking about freedom.(ref to study here) However, writing the article in a promotional tone is still inappropriate. 19:44, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Read the first sentence of your comment, and then read where I explained above about words, terms, encyclopedias, and dictionaries. This is not an article about English usage of North Americans. Gronky 20:21, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
That's just an example. It would be up to you to present empirical facts that demonstrate your assertions like FSF's definition is the generally accepted definition of the term "free software". The other definitions that exist are all based on FSF's and are all very similar or practically identical. These are facts, not value judgements. and The term has one accepted meaning, and the most respected definition is The Free Software Definition. 20:27, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Ok, so we seem to agree now that the article is about the term. Next, you're asking me to prove that the term has one generally accepted definition. I thought this was going to be difficult, but it wasn't. Every internet search engine proves this. Search for "free software", ignore the results which are found because the two words "free" + "software" are often used in a combination which is coincidentally identical to the term "free software", and you'll see that all references in the first 100 results are talking about software that is free by FSF's definition. The only alternate definitions you'll find are the Debian one (which was based on FSF's and is practically identical), and Open Source Initiative's one (which is based on Debian's and is almost word-for-word identical). So there is one generally accepted definition, FSF's was the first and is today, and always has been, the primary one. Next I have to prove that these definitions are practically identical, and that's proved by looking at what software projects qualify for each definition. There are almost no software packages which qualify by one definition but not another, and those projects usually have a very marginal userbase. Gronky 00:21, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, if your criterion is that the only relevant usage of the words "free software" is something analogous to the FSF's usage, then you'll probably find that most of the results simply are the FSF's usage. However, various people use the words "free software" in various ways, and it's not a wikipedian's place to assert that the FSF's usage is somehow superior, correct, or even a good practice. It's a wikipedian's place to document the facts of any non-trivial usage pattern, and this article's place to document the facts of the FSF's usage pattern, rather than trying to promote, validate, denounce, or oppose a given practice by the public. 04:47, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
This article is not about the various ways of using the words, this article is about the term which is used for the topic of software with some freedoms. Gronky 05:02, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
Would it be acceptable for an article about commercial software vendors' use of the words "free software" to assert that "Free software is software that is distributed at no cost."? 05:27, 29 January 2007 (UTC)'s position is silly. "White" is an adjective, and "house" is a noun. A white house is any house painted white, yet I see a specific white house when I look for white house in Wikipedia! Why could that be? Apply the same reasoning to free software, and there you are. — Isilanes 19:45, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Nice example. I think I will be quoting that. Gronky 21:15, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Problem 3

Another problem: FSF believes that derived works are community property? Where did you get that from? This isn't about property, this is about making as much freedom as possible. It's copyright law that says that original authors have an ownership stake in derived works. If third-parties could make small changes and then not pass along the freedoms, the free versions would always be technically inferior to the third-partiy non-free versions. This would be a total failure. This version of the intro lacks basic research. Gronky 15:36, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

I got that from the fact that the GPL tells authors what they must/can't do with derived works. The GPL is a copyright-based mechanism, it's based on the concept of the copyright holder agreeing not to sue the public for exercising specific limited rights, rather than being some sort of alternative to copyright, as you seem to be suggesting. Like it or not, the GPL is a part of free software, and law is a part of free software. Free software has an ideological basis, and a working legal basis, and both are a part of the subject of this article. My point may require some rewording, the phrase community property may not be legally or ideologically accurate, but really that's a small semantic issue. The point is that the FSF believes the community is entitled to the source code for derived works. 18:15, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
This may be the feeling you get, or it may be what free software reminds you of, but it's neither accurate or encyclopedic. What is community property? It's just something you made up. Does this neologism of yours apply to physical property? State-granted monopolies such as copyrights and patents? Or all those things? How is this property shared in the community, do people take turns? This new analogy you're introducing adds nothing and just confuses. Lets cut out the interpretations and stick to facts. Gronky 18:54, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
I agree(d), the term community property is probably not ideal, and I've rephrased in response to your concern. 18:59, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Problem 4

Yet another problem: GPL prohibits distribution of the software in any format that doesn't include source code? Tell me the section of the GPL that prohibits that, please. If you distribute a non-source form, you have to distribute source code simultaneously (not necessarily together with the non-source form, it could be on a separate CD), OR you can make the source available for download, OR you can accompany the non-source form with a offer, valid for 3 years, to send the source to the recipient by mail. Again, this version lacks basic research. Gronky 15:41, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Good point. You're right that they don't need to be bundled. I wasn't very clear 18:15, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Problem 5

Fifth problem: "the largest distinction between free software and open source software." You're joking, right? Or do you not know that the GPL is an open-source licence as well as being a free software licence? Open Source Initiative have approved it. You clearly are highly motivated, which is good, but this article is about a topic you clearly don't know much about. Those five problems I've listed and explained are not the only problems, but because of those five, I'll revert to the last version of the intro that I wrote. Can you tell me what parts you see problems with? Maybe I can explain them, and maybe the article can benefit from some testing if you can point out what parts needs to be made clearer. Gronky 15:50, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Yes, it's like saying the largest distinction between lemon juice and lemonade is the addition of sugar and water. Once again, this is a minor semantic issue, and if it's even unclear or problematic at all, and enough to warrant a change, the addition of a single word could clarify the issue. Finding five small, fixable, largely semantic problems is not an excuse to revert the edit. It's an excuse to fix those problems. Can you tell me what parts you see problems with? Yes, your introduction provided almost no discernable or specific fact and was written from the perspective of promoting the FSF's ideology and presenting it as factual, rather than taking a journalistic approach and trying to document the FSF's ideas in the context of being one set of ideas in a larger world context. An encyclopedia article should be a journalistic documentation of fact. It should aid in learning about what exists in the world, in hard and factual terms, and every line should be provable in a court of law. If you look up an article on christianity, you don't expect it to be written from the perspective that the ideology is factual, like "Jesus is the son of god, and someone who performed miracles. Believing in Jesus can ensure that you go to heaven when you die." You expect it to be written from a journalistic perspective. As much as wikipedia may utilize and embrace "copylefting" and other freedom oriented practices, it's still an encyclopedia project, even when it comes to articles about freedom-focused ideologies. Rather than either restoring my own original rewrite, or the version where I first made an effort to resolve your complaints, or removing the 9/10 of your text that is POV and/or unprovable, I'm going to restore my last edit, and try to resolve more of your concerns. If you have concerns like "it's not community property, it's a community right to the source", I would ask that you simply fix the problem (though I'm going to fix that one). Also, if I censored/overlooked anything that you were trying to say before (I consciously tried to relate each of the few facts that you have mentioned), please simply add that, or work in parts of your own text. Right now we have two (or three including the version before you rewrote it) major versions, and only one has been written from the start, and then further edited to incorporate the other author's concerns, so I would ask that you take the time to make your voice further heard in that version, as I'll be trying to do for a third time today in the hope of seeing both of our ideas sufficiently represented that we can both voluntarily agree on a single version. 18:15, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
The last time I reverted, I tried to start from your version, but I found that it had no redeeming qualities. It was beyond redemption. It was badly organised, unclear, and it showed lack of basic understanding of the topic. So I explained five mistakes that you made, and now you reply by saying: "Can you tell me what parts you see problems with?" I just told you. From the other side, you haven't pointed out precisely what mistakes you see in previous versions. You talk about being "brutally accurate", and "like it or not...", and you call my edits "POV", but you don't say what parts are problematic. You just keep repeating your accusations. Gronky 19:01, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Either way, my version actually incorporated various parts of your version, and I've now twice edited a series of new concerns and points of yours into it. My version isn't really "my" version, it's not what I would have composed on my own, it's a composite of both of our ideas and concerns. It's also specifically written according to the guidelines of neither promoting or opposing the FSF's definition (NPOV), and relating only provable fact. I can prove that the FSF says certain things, but I can't prove that users are actually entitled to certain freedoms, or that their definitions are correct or incorrect, or any other subjective or value-oriented point. We have one version here that's a compromise, and that's centered around empirical fact. You haven't been censored here, your ideas and concerns have been incorporated from the start and then further integrated, in spite of your apparent total disinterest in mutual representation. I ask that you respect the fact that your ideas are no more or less pertinent than mine, and that you understand that a resolution to our disagreement has to come in the form of a version that incorporates both of our ideas. 19:14, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't matter if your version incorporates parts of my version or not. We're here to write an article that's informative, correct, and understandable, not to write an article that includes text by any specific persons. You can't prove that people are entitled to certain rights? So what? What's that got to do with this discussion? No ones' version said that users were entitled to certain rights. And "you haven't been censored here" - I never said I had been! What are you talking about? You're comments here are incomprehensible. The ideas you've tried to add are insufficiently pertinent because they contained factual errors that I have pointed out, they were based on concepts that we can't assume the read is familiar with, and they used vague, incomplete analogies. And lastly, no, the resolution doesn't have to contain text or ideas from my version or from your version - this is an encyclopedia, not an exercise in compromise. Gronky 19:29, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
Well, if you'd rather have this mediated, then so be it, but otherwise we'll have to find a way to resolve our disagreement. You have concerns with what I wrote, I have concerns with what you wrote. Resolving our concerns is a matter of compromise. So long as you want to add something factual, or remove something unprovable, you have a right to be heard, and I want to accommodate you. Also, if you have quality concerns, then you have a right to be heard. However, I do have my opinion, too, as do others, and within the definition of composing an encyclopedic article, I also have a right to be heard. 19:38, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
If a third person comes along and replaces the article with one sentence "Free software is car" - do we then have to find a compromise between the three of us? "I do have my opinion ... also have a right to be heard" - no, that's what you're blog is for. Get this moderated if you like, but I suggest you re-read the above discussion, and do some background research about free software and some related topics first. Gronky 20:27, 28 January 2007 (UTC)
It depends on whether the third person's concerns fall within the criteria of fitness for a wikipedia article. Facts about free software definitions and licenses are pertinent to an article about free software. 20:35, 28 January 2007 (UTC)