libreware heavyweights demanding accountability through software licensing only to recoil at the thought of being held accountable themselves



we build infra, nerds. bridges and roads, bolts and screws made of light and will. the consequences of our craft require higher standards than open source alone. we must accept the whole burden of stewardship, of governance, if we hope to ever make good software. that means binding ourselves and our communities of practice to both technical and ethical expectations.

you wouldn't trust a bridge that its builders consider their pet project, but that's so much modern software.

consequences of our (software) craft 

when things like wannacry compromise infrastructure on a global scale and all we do is point fingers at each other, we abdicate our duties as craftpeople. this craft is our collective responsibility and we are accountable for its consequences.

we are not special wizards. we are workers. digital mechanics. lives depend on our doing better than this.

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That would make a very reassuring sign at the entrance of a bridge:

« This bridge is open in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANDABILITY or FITNESS FOR A CROSSING PURPOSE. »


@mathieu @garbados

Our responsibility, as #FreeSoftware #hackers, is NOT to build useful code. Not even secure code, actually.

Our responsibility is to #explore, to #create, to #learn and to #teach people, so that they can learn new things by themselves and teach us back.

There is ONE way in which we empower people: by giving them the code to #study and modify.
Hard forks are totally welcome.

You don't need a CoC to govern a project. It gives power to few managers without protecting anyone.

@Shamar @garbados @mathieu

No. Free Software according to the original GNU manifesto is about developing useful code and expressing solidarity with users and other developers by acting on a prosocial manner "without dishonor" in your community. It's not just about personal exploration.

Also very few Free Software projects have managers, apart from the maintainer.

@bob @garbados @mathieu

So you suggest we should write an essay titled "Why GNU misses the point of Free Software"? 🤣

The goal of GNU (GNU is not Unix) was to build a free operating system, but it have never favoured utility, security, quality or whatever to #freedom.

The kind of #solidarity to user Stallman was trying to share was the solidarity of hackers: which is the knowledge we encode in software.

The ability to use and customize the software is consequence of such #knowledge.

@bob @garbados @mathieu

NOTE: I'm not saying that writing useful Free Software is bad.

It's a great act of #love AND #curiosity.

I'm just saying that a free software that is totally USE-less might be very valuable for everybody.

It might inspire, show dead ends, teach whole lots or even just challenge mainstream assumptions and make all of us think.

Hackers are not just software engineer: we USE software engineering to serve our #curiosity. But the goal is not software, but #knowledge.


@garbados on one hand yeah, but on the other - unlike a regular engineer who works with an expectation that their work will be used on a professional level and they're responsible for the quality of the product, open source devs sometimes have that responsibility thrust onto them without their consent.

a physical world analogy would be someone working on an engine for an electric bicycle or scooter, only to find out someone used it for their car.


@devurandom at some point we have to recognize that if we don't want that responsibility, we shouldn't put our stuff out there for anyone to use. when our stuff moves from demoware to infrastructure, we have a responsibility to make it worth a damn and to keep it that way. the fact our volunteer corps are not only unable but implicitly unwilling to bear this responsibility reflects a critical collective failure. developers who abdicate this responsibility dishonor the craft.


@garbados in that case, i would at least demand some payment for that.

(or, alternatively, for a less capitalist option, there could be groups who hire, aid and support open-source devs whose projects turn out to be vitally important.)


@devurandom we should absolutely demand compensation. it's an important part of how we keep ourselves and our works from serving scabs and their keepers


@garbados @devurandom How are you supposed to make them take responsibility once they got bored of a project that someone else decided to move from “enjoy some bad code” to “this is our critical infrastructure”?


@USBloveDog @garbados @devurandom surely Stallman, Hipp et al don’t believe GNU, SQLite, etc. to exist mainly or exclusively for hobbyist purposes.

Hobby projects exist, of course, but surely it’s a long journey before one is ever considered for more serious, responsible purposes?

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