SustainOSS and the FOSS tools that are used

I took a look at your blog and I must say I well understand your position. I spent like 20 years “tilting at windmills” as I say it now, earned a title of a “well known troll” in certain open source communities (hence my new “business” nickname). While it was fun, it was not a battle against a cause - it is all a battle against the effect. If we deny that proprietary software should exist, we may as well implicitly ignore all people who are writing and selling such software, and the reasons they do this. To be straight to the point - most people do this, because they need money. The stuff that your blog, from what I’ve scanned so far, ignores. For me the money that are necessary for a living is the reason I am on this forum. That’s the problem that this forum tries to solve - how to make open source sustainable, not how to get rid of proprietary.

I guess that’s my point, Anatoli, I’ve been a software developer for 26 years… and I’ve only ever created FOSS. Almost all GPL licensed (I respect the upstream license if modifying something existing). You don’t need to build proprietary to earn a living. Some of the folks running this initiative, however, work for proprietary software corporations, and I gather they’re not fans of people like me pointing out that, well, not only do you not need them and their proprietary products… but in fact, their offerings are bad for the world. I don’t see it as tilting at windmills - it’s just stating a fact that I myself have proven. Proprietary undermines the sustainability of FOSS simply by existing, as I explain in my blocked blog.

I haven’t had any contact from any moderators. I’ve had 3 of my posts flagged, and my blog blacklisted… I would expect at least the latter to be an act of a moderator but I very much hope not.

There’s a definite faction of people - who work for proprietary software corporations - who want FOSS to be sustainable but perhaps not in the way the rest of us do. We have a similar thing with cows here in New Zealand - some people want to make them sustainable so they can continue profiting massively holding them captive and milking them.

Hey. :wave: If we haven’t “met” before, I’m one of the organizers of Sustain and I help keep the conversations here going, both in this online forum and the working group forums. I by no means run things, but I do help out very often.

@lightweight – all that said, I don’t know who flagged your posts or why they were flagged at all. I’m not super familiar with Discourse and I asked some other Sustain organizers and none of them knew why your posts were flagged. I’m sorry to hear that this has distressed you!

I also don’t know what you mean by blacklisted or why your posts were hidden without at least a backchannel comment to work things out. I suspect it is an automatic function of Discourse. I’m looking into it and will circle back. I encourage you to be patient.

Regarding responses: I didn’t have time to respond to this before now, today. Everyone here has some sort of day job. It’s not that I or anyone else is reluctant to talk about this. I suspect that there weren’t a ton of comments because this was posted on Friday, and people take the weekend off. On a similar note, this thread has far more responses than most other threads. For my part, I’m glad you’re here, because I think Oeru is an awesome example of open source done right.

On the topic of the thread, thanks @aschrijver for bringing up the importance of open source tools in this forum. In helping the WGs, I try my best to balance our commitments and respect individual workflows. Groups are encouraged to use the tools that work best for them. For example, some WGs use Zoom while others use BBB. I have more to say here, but will leave that for another time.

In closing - there are no committee overloads that decide on tools. But we do hold to a standard of respect in our Code of Conduct. Please, be civil. If we feel that any comments breach the CoC, the mods would be in touch, and not simply flag posts.

I wish I could be as optimistic. For me that’s survival bias. I couldn’t survive on open source alone and I’ve seen numerous projects failing to crowdfund even $200 over the project lifetime on Gratipay. You speak about your own experience, but what is the total capacity for open source developer positions that you managed to create as a company owner?

Let me repeat that proprietary software is not the cause, but the effect. People write the code they won’t own not because of their free will. People writing software may concur for resources to feed themselves, but hating some work that people do doesn’t help to solve that conflict.

Since you’ve got the whole 3 posts flagged, I may suggest that absence of work experience from the other side of the fence (if there is a fence at all) got you write something in those posts that made some people unhappy. Your position is clear and you’ve been heard, but if the lose the people who didn’t have the courage to speak up, we may lose some valuable allies. If you’re ready to get rid of some Apple fanboys/fangirls who mastered an art of communicating with people with beautiful design made in proprietary Adobe products, then I am not. I know that I can not do beautiful things in Blender or GIMP, but every time a person from proprietary world who knows I love Blender tells me about some awesome thing he could do with it, I am a happy.

The best way to advocate things is pro-something, not anti-something. And if something bad needs attention, speak with data, not emotions.

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Thanks for looking into it Richard - we’ve communicated in person via BBB previously.

Any post I make which references my personal blog (which I cite to provide to support my statements with further reasoning) is automatically blocked from saving, stating that my blog URL has been blocked (blacklisted). Perhaps it’s an automatic function of Discourse… but I do know that 3 of my posts have been flagged by forum users, and I’m not really sure why that would happen.

Thanks for that vote of confidence, Richard - I think we’re in a fortunate position to be able to speak from experience to counter the common message that “open source is too hard to use, even for communities championing open source”…

I agree… I think that hiding behind anonymous “flagging” of content can be just as damaging to rational and civil discourse as being abusive with words. Robust discussion is a requisite if we’re to have any hope of solving difficult problems (and, surely, that’s why we’re all here!).

Sure, I have survivor’s bias… but, despite what many folks (including you!) say, I can also say that I’ve proven that it’s possible to live quite well and sustainably as a pure FOSS developer.

Regarding your question - it’s a good one. The short answer is… “all of them”. In my particular case, I employed 20+ developers… we were acquired by a company with 300 in NZ. There’re quite a few other FOSS here - and they exist because people like me didn’t listen to the many naysayers who used to chide and even shun us back in the early days (they used to yell “this open source stuff is going to kill our software businesses! Shun them.”). And that’s in an environment where the vast majority of computer users are hopelessly locked in to proprietary software supplied by big tech. Imagine if that wasn’t the case.

If we helped gov’ts to realise that FOSS is part of our global virtual infrastructure (the digital equivalent to roads and power grids) that they should be funding, not leaving it to the capricious whimsy of big tech corporations, then all development jobs could (and should) be for building FOSS. Software has little inherent direct value in and of itself - only things you can produce/manage/organise with software has value.

Yes, if you read through my posts, I’m quite pro-things. But we also have to point out counterproductive blockers to our stated goal (sustainable OSS) when we see them. The power usurped and wielded by proprietary software proprietors over their users is the biggest blocker there is. I’d point to concrete examples of that detailed on my blog if I could :slight_smile:

In my opinion - the way we can achieve the “gov’t support/funding for FOSS” I mentioned above, I’ve outlined in some detail here (I don’t think this one is blocked):

I’ll be interested to see whether my “ignored” posts (due to being flagged by one or more community members) are reinstated by the moderators as I’m not convinced (although I accept I’m biased in the matter) that I’ve violated any aspect of the forum’s posting guidelines…

Your posts are restored. You are correct, you didn’t violate any guidelines, and no community member flagged your posts – the system automatically distrusts new users who share a lot of links (a rule that makes sense and is annoying). Sorry, you got caught up in this.


Thanks @GeorgLink - interestingly, the Discourse system actually informed me that “a community member has flagged your post” for each of the first 3 posts that were marked “ignored” prior to the other posts (with lots of links) which were blocked for being posted entirely…

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Dave, just to note - if I recall correctly, it said something similar to “the community has flagged your post”, not “community member”. I read that as meaning the algorithm. There was no person at fault here.

Thank you, @GeorgLink, for figuring this out.

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Ok, thanks for clarifying, @RichardLitt… Another example of the dangers of algorithms :slight_smile: I have to say, the having got the idea that a community member had flagged my posts certainly made me feel pretty unhappy.


I would have felt unhappy too. I hope we can move past that now and continue the conversations that we are here for. :slight_smile:


And, finally, a few days ago I posted a response to @abitrolly on my personal blog, after it was blocked from posting here due to too many links :slight_smile: - Providing open source tools for open communities | Dave Lane