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Re: Ultimate solution

On Sun, Mar 25, 2007 at 11:56:40AM -0600, Arrakis wrote:
> Saying free and open-source software isn't "Free" and "Open Source" is
> giving  in to a combination of semantics and snobbery of licensing. It
> isn't  as  though  any  organization owns the definition of "Free" and
> "Open  Source"  and has the authority to pin it down to their specific
> hoops we must jump through, nor should anyone assume we have.

There are (at least) two things going on through this discussion that
are run together and should be separated. 'Free' and 'open source'
have long ago become technical terms in the context of software and
programs. Technical terms allow a community to agree on some things so
that it is not necessary to spend many paragraphs explaining
terminology every time one wants to say something. This does not rob
the terms of their broader meaning.  And people can use the terms as
they wish, but if they have a discussion in a context for which the
terms have specific meaning, then they should expect to be
misunderstood and yelled at a lot for confusing people and wasting
their time. And, if they refuse to conform to the vocabulary of the
community they can expect to eventually be simply dismissed as too
much trouble to deal with. I would be subject to the same criticism if
I started talking about free algebra, free groups, free variables,
etc. using 'free' in some nonstandard way and simply insisting that it
is correct.

One can of course question the standard usage that has arisen and give
arguments why other ways of speaking are more appropriate. But that is
a topic for a forum where there is discussion about the basic meaning
of those terms, not in a context where they are simply assumed and
used, such as this one.

Arrakis can do what he wishes with his software. If he calls it free
software in a broader population, well it will be interpreted however
it will.  But, if he calls it free software in a software development
forum, he is simply misusing an established term. But, after one or
two posts, the meaning of "free" is off-topic for this forum and
should be taken to one where it is appropriate.  (People may also then
get angry that the public will be misled and run together things that
are not the same at all. This happens all the time when science hits
the broader world. It is also part of what is going on here.)

If it is important to continue a discussion of the different types
of licenses that Tor software or other related software is under, e.g.,
because it affects decisions about further development and distribution
of that software, then fights over the correct meaning of 'free' should
be taken elsewhere. We can for these purposes adopt something like
standard-free and arrakis-free for these discussions without quibbling
over which of them is really free.


(P.S. For more, please see my critical analysis of that moving
treatise on the impact of Frege's Begriffsschrift in the years
after the American Civil War,  _Freedom's Lament: A History of the
Bound Variable in America_. )