back to article GNU means GNU's Not U: Stallman insists he's still Chief GNUisance while 18 maintainers want him out as leader

On Monday, a group of maintainers of the GNU Project, the free operating system created by Richard Stallman, questioned Stallman's leadership and emitted a joint statement for rethinking how the project should be managed going forward. Late last month, after resigning as president of the Free Foundation in the wake of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the behavior of its leader alienates a large part of those we want to reach out to"

    (Citation needed)

    Got any figures to back that up? And I mean more than three anecdotes about how RMS creeped you out by having a mattress in his office (he lived there). I mean actual figures. What percentage, exactly, constitutes "a large part"? What percentage is currently being alienated? Where did you get these figures? Can you show any work, or are you just making blanket assertions?

    Of course, I'm speaking sense and logic, so none of this will be addressed at all. Instead I'll be labeled a misogynistic troll who lives in my mother's basement, because who gives a fuck about rational debate? Just scream shrilly until the thing you don't like today changes, then find a new thing you don't like tomorrow.

    I just wish these people would scream about climate change. Isn't that more pressing? We should start a social media campaign to get carbon to step down from it's place in our atmosphere, it's interfering with my ability to not get flooded by rising sea levels and alienating a large part of humanity from being alive.

    This bloodthirsty mob does realise that the muricans have a president who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy, right? Why don't they scream about that? Seems like more of a problem to me than RMS's (admittetly unwise, but also blown way out of proportion) remarks.

    1. Ian Johnston

      I think the issue is less about RMS' recent remarks and more about the decades he has spent chasing ideological purity at the expense of actually moving free software forwards.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You mean the decades where free software grew from nothing and thrived and became the only way to do serious computing - servers, supercomputers, science? Are those the decades you're talking about?

        1. sbt Silver badge
          Stop

          "The only way to do serious computing - servers, supercomputers, science?"

          Disproof by counter-example:

          Servers: The last few decades, Microsoft's proprietary OS and commercial proprietary applications/RDBMS from MS, Oracle, etc. dominated the server landscape;

          Science: Python's become the most popular platform for science research. Its most popular implementation CPython, is licenced in the BSD style. So open source, but not RMS's vision of pure "free software".

          There was free software before GNU, and there'll be free software if GNU or FSF ceases to be, or be led by RMS. His contribution, valuable though it was, was made a long time ago.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "The only way to do serious computing - servers, supercomputers, science?"

            "Servers: The last few decades, Microsoft's proprietary OS and commercial proprietary applications/RDBMS from MS, Oracle, etc. dominated the server landscape;

            What are you talking about?? by far the most common type of server these days is a web server, and the vast majority of those run on free software. The only type of server that I can think of that more commonly runs on a proprietary OS is an exchange server. And that's because they're locked in to a particular platform.

            " CPython, is licenced in the BSD style. So open source, but not RMS's vision of pure "free software"."

            The BSD license counts as free software.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "by far the most common type of server these days is a web server"

              Those are just the servers you can see. There's a lot of servers you can't see and run a lot of critical software and store a lot of critical data.

              1. boltar Silver badge

                Re: "by far the most common type of server these days is a web server"

                And most of the those critical servers are not running Windows.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "by far the most common type of server these days is a web server"

                  "And most of the those critical servers are not running Windows."

                  While your point is correct, there are many critical servers running other proprietary OS's/software for banking, manufacturing and retail that you are ignoring. Web servers only make up part of the server market.

                2. sbt Silver badge
                  Alert

                  Remember the strength of the original claim in dispute and the use of counter-example:

                  AC: "the only way to do serious computing..."

                  boltar: "most of ... those ... are not running Windows"

                  That's an acknowledgment that there are *some* servers running Windows. The details of market share aren't needed to accept the "only" claim is hyperbole, to put it politely.

                  Anyway, all this is a distraction from the point that free software, open source and proprietary software have their place. My argument is that a more pragmatic approach with less purism might have gotten us further. Additionally, an ability to move with the times might have led to a better and more unified approach to the cloud service provider loophole.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Remember the strength of the original claim in dispute and the use of counter-example:

                    One could make the claim that you're not "serious" unless you're HPC.

                    I note you left supercomputers out of your counter-examples. Did you forget?

                    1. sbt Silver badge
                      Headmaster

                      That's not how proof by counter-example works

                      In logic, only one example is required.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "The only way to do serious computing - servers, supercomputers, science?"

              by far the most common type of server these days is a web server

              Only if your life is online. The machines that chew on your pension, that process financial transactions, that chew through big volumes of data - quite a lot of them are NOT FOSS based.

              You must be pretty new to IT not to know this.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "The only way to do serious computing - servers, supercomputers, science?"

                The number of web servers out there easily dwarfs all these examples you mention combined. Hell, I could probably replace "web servers" with "apache servers" and it would still be true.

                But lets say you're right and the banking sector has more servers than the entire internet. How many of these non-FOSS systems were built in the last 10 years?

                Sure, there are lots of legacy systems out there that are not running on FOSS, and yes, most banking and whatnot is still probably not running on FOSS - because it's a legacy COBOL system built in the 1970s and running on a mainframe emulator, or still running OS/2 or VMS. But I'll bet you good money that the majority of new systems being built today are running on FOSS or at least using it.

                You must be pretty ignorant of current (as in, this millenium) trends to not know this.

                1. sbt Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  The deep IT

                  You keep forgetting the claim. The only way to do serious computing. For decades. It's rubbish.

                  IT is not just the Internet. Think industrial control and manufacturing. Think utilities. Think three letter agencies. Brokers, traders and arbitrage merchants. ERP and CRM. Call centres and telephony. Desktop publishing and media. Software defined networking.

                  Sure FOSS is making in-roads in some of these areas and it's definitely leading on the Internet. But in most parts of IT&C, it's a proprietary world. I'm not saying I like it; I love open source. I like to know what I'm running, and that I can fix and improve it if I need to, or give something back. But it's a hand-waving dismissal of all the software engineers that work in these spaces to deny they're on serious computing, like the Internet is the only thing that represent progress or the cutting edge.

                  1. Evil3eaver

                    Re: The deep IT

                    WTF are you talking about 99% of industrial computers are linux... yes in the office where people use word and excel yes that is proprietary but all the iot sensors out there... seriously where in hell do you get your information.

                    What about the billions of Android devices out there. Has anyone ever heard of AWS, or Facebook, or Google, or Twitter, or Snapchat or Instagram, or or or or.... All linux ALL of them.

                    Seriously what is wrong with you, even Microsoft realises it, making and Android phone, and bringing many things to native linux not to mention the most recent desire to bring IE to linux.

                    Holy crap you are delusional to think that anything serious is doable in windows. Maybe Mac OS sure cause BSD not cause Apple. Heck any time I have to do binary reversals or profile a system it is always infinitely better from Linux than Windows, windows with all its "that folder is too deep" and "that filename is too long" and "I can read anymore cause, I don't fucking know I'm windows use a real system to figure it out".

                    I don't know how many times that I'm tearing through TB's of data and windows blows up and I have to start over again. Never have anywhere near the same issues on Linux, it just works.

                    So yeah any serious works does not get done on Windows. Those who do, are kinda like people kept their 8-track cassette players decades past their utility or these days DVD's and CD's. So yeah people who think "It must be done from proprietary" are complete dumbasses. It should be "what ever gets it done, I don't give a fuck just get it done" which Linux has and will always be the quickest and easiest path there. Its free, no need for approval from finance just do it. No need to deal with problems of deployment cause licenses or how about license servers like flexlm or ace... no worries about that anymore just git-your-chit-going.

                    1. sbt Silver badge
                      Facepalm

                      Way to miss the point about servers

                      Again, the portion of the claim I was discussing was about Free Software, serious computing, and servers. The billions of IoT edge sensors and Android devices are not servers. The dominance of OSS on the Internet is freely acknowledged elsewhere, but its size relative to the whole IT estate is over-estimated. There are other non-free, proprietary OSs than Windows used in the last few decades. HP-UX, for one. There is plenty of Windows in the Cloud, even it's mostly Azure.

                      I haven't used Windows recently for serious computing either, but that doesn't mean folks aren't doing it. I don't claim it "must be done from proprietary", only that people can, and do. I prefer BSD, but that's just as anecdotal as your reports.

                  2. baud Bronze badge

                    Re: The deep IT

                    Don't know about the rest, but when I was working at Canal+ (so a media company), I maybe saw 1 windows-based server, compared to dozens of variations of Linux. And the linux ran a lot of free software (webservers, dbs, utilities…)

                2. Tom Paine Silver badge
                  Meh

                  Re: "The only way to do serious computing - servers, supercomputers, science?"

                  Hi, I'm working for a pretty substantial financial services firm. Just one anecdotal data point but FWIW: we have lots of web servers including app servers used by clients and a whole heap of middleware / db / MQ and whatnot, as well as the usual departmental file & print, AD etc. The production estate's roughly 3:1 Windows to Linux. (Desk-side, including servers, is 100% Windows.)

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "The only way to do serious computing - servers, supercomputers, science?"

                Ah banking and finance infrastructure. That's what us IT folk like to refer to as "legacy kit".

                The key metric is what is being bought and invested in, not what is kept running because it can no longer be upgraded or migrated.

                A lot of these old legacy financial / banking systems running on proprietary operating systems are probably virtualized now, most likely on some sort of FOSS or GNU based hypervisor.

                Personally, FOSS and GNU has made a massive difference to my life and career, I can do things that simply aren't possible any other way.

            3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: "The only way to do serious computing - servers, supercomputers, science?"

              The BSD license counts as free software.

              Not to the GPL purists it doesn't-

              1. katrinab Silver badge

                Re: "The only way to do serious computing - servers, supercomputers, science?"

                BSD software grants you The Four Freedoms, and therefore is acceptable to even the most fervent disciple of The Church of Emacs. Their problem with it is that is possible to create a non-free fork of the software, but as long as you don't use one of these forks, or worse, publish such a fork, it is perfectly fine to use.

              2. JulieM Silver badge

                Re: "The only way to do serious computing - servers, supercomputers, science?"

                It's entirely within the letter of the BSD licence -- even although it is against the spirit of the licence -- to release a piece of software as a pre-compiled binary only, and call it Open Source. The licence in theory gives downstream users permission to distribute the Source Code, butin practice there is nothing to guarantee you actually have the Source Code you need to exercise that right.

                Much as I admire the BSD folks for the hard work they have done and still do, I would never dare release a piece of code under their licence, precisely for fear that someone might use it to create an enhanced derivative work, that was semi-compatible but caged. Because I could not be certain of having the time and resources to release my own enhanced version, that would be compatible with theirs but with the full Source Code.

                So, out of sheer laziness (one of the qualities that persuaded me to become a programmer in the first place), I prefer a licence that protects all downstream users from theft by failure to share. I'm not denying it sounds like great fun to be caught up in an arms race with an evil proprietary developer -- just far from sure I could win it. Something about getting into a fight when you are not absolutely confident of victory; could be Sun Tzu, could be Mr Miyagi from [i]The Karate Kid[/i].

                (Disclosure: I have released code into the Public Domain, which obviously doesn't offer this protection. But that was either written in an interpretated language, so there is no binary anyway; or for a machine architecture having too little RAM for the full text of the GPL to fit.)

                1. sbt Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  In practice, there's a difference between theory and practice.

                  The existence of BSD licensed software was just being used to disprove, by counter-example, that Free Software (by Stallman's definition) is the only way to do serious computing. He claims (and you explain succinctly), that liberal Open Source licenced code is not Free Software.

                  Anyway, thumbs up. Your decisions about how to licence your code are in no way challenged by making this example or refuting the claim.

        2. FuzzyWuzzys
          WTF?

          "You mean the decades where free software grew from nothing and thrived and became the only way to do serious computing.."

          Some of that was down to Stallman but the vast majority was down to individuals coming together and deciding their own way to take FOSS forward. Stallman is a "software fundamentalist", if he'd picked up the Koran or a Bible he'd be locked up somewhere for inciting religious hatred. Normal, down-to-earth people took the pure ideas and bastardized them to make them work in the real world. sadly Stallman doesn't live in the real world where real people have to work with software day-to-day and work with users and demands. FOSS may have started with Stallman, and we're all grateful, but it has been pushed forward by others who understand how to make it work in the real world.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge

            Stallman is a "software fundamentalist", if he'd picked up the Koran or a Bible he'd be locked up somewhere for inciting religious hatred.

            Reminds me, need to talk to you about something.

            This stuff with Mr Stallman largely comes down to some SJW nonsense. He "triggered" them by making some statements that they found insensitive.

            In some respects you almost seem to support their argument, and are certainly on the side of those against Mr Stlalman vs those largely who support him.

            You do realise that "fuzzy wuzzy" is considered to be a rather racist term, right? Don't you think you should drop it before people start to notice and attack you for your insensitive posts - that, regardless of the intent of your name, the intent or implication of your posts, are always going to be exceptionally racist just because you chose that name?

            You don't do your cause much good, and should be removed immediately!

            (FWIW, I don't actually have a problem with it)

        3. tfb Silver badge
          Flame

          Yes, those decades. Did this happen because of RMS or did it happen in spite of him, and because of people like Linus Torvalds who were actually capable of collaborating with people to get shit done?

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Linus may be a better personnel manager, but he chose the GPL to release the shit he got done.

            I have heard that RMS has actually written software, but I'm only really familiar with his legal work. That has certainly been a major factor in the rise of free software. Witness the projects that lawyers tried to shut down, but couldn't because it was all GPL-ed, or the projects that someone thought they'd bought, only to discover that everyone important just forked the GPL-ed source and ignored the new owner.

          2. ThomH Silver badge

            What, you mean you don't use GNU Hurd? It's going to be the best kernel ever, any day now.

    2. sbt Silver badge
      Holmes

      An ambit claim, sure, but you can't manage what you can't measure

      There probably aren't any figures. The rest of your comments were irrelevant to the legitimate point you raised.

      What's relevant is that the lack of any figures for or against is one sign of a badly run not-for-profit organisation that cannot demonstrate whether its mission remains compelling and relevant to the public it serves/defends (since it has no "sales" to signal that).

      This is typical of those dominated by a long-standing founder and another example of why organisations benefit from succession planning and constant leadership renewal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: An ambit claim, sure, but you can't manage what you can't measure

        So you're saying that because nobody has bothered to gather any figures we should just take drastic kneejerk action and take somebody's life's work away from them based on the poorly-elucidated hunch of 18 people out of hundreds?

        Don't you think it might be a good idea to, say, gather some figures? Do a study? Maybe a survey (of course, you'd need to know about all the pitfalls of surveys for that to be fair)? Before demanding action?

        Maybe you're saying that the leadership is oppressive and stifles these discussions? Can you point me to the mailing list thread where the community is saying "hey, let's gather some figures", and the leadership vetoes it?

        1. sbt Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Shouldn't have to ask; well run orgs already know

          It's a data point that suggests an organisational disfunction that is common to orgs run in this way. And clearly there are at least 22 (and counting) folks much closer to the project that also think renewal is the answer. To me, that justifies the demand for action. They could run a survey, hold a vote, etc. Of course the other hundreds of stakeholders that didn't speak up are free to sign their own petition, and it appears RMS is free to reject the call to go.

          But I wouldn't assume everyone who didn't sign on didn't agree with the need for change; maybe they were reluctant to speak out, hoped RMS would do the decent thing without them having to nail their colours to the mast. I'm not suggesting a veto has been invoked over discussions, but long standing leaders shape their organisation's cultures and the leadership around them. That has its own influence on the openness of the culture, particularly when it comes to challenging the leader.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Shouldn't have to ask; well run orgs already know

            The lack of data is not a data point - anybody in the project can do the work to gather data, they just can't be bothered. Instead they make assertions with nothing at all to back them up and demand action to address these unfounded assertions. If people think renewal is the answer, why don't they do the legwork to gather anything at all to back up their claims before demanding action?

            "They could run a survey, hold a vote, etc."

            ...and they don't because?? I think you accidentally that whole sentence.

            "Of course the other hundreds of stakeholders that didn't speak up are free to sign their own petition"

            The other hundreds of stakeholders aren't demanding change. The onus is on the people who want change to show a single shred of evidence that a) change is necessary and b) their proposed change will have the intended effect.

            "it appears RMS is free to reject the call to go."

            He sure is. And one of the beauties of free software is that these 18 (or 22, whatever, it's still a small percentage) are free to fork and start new projects under whatever management structure they like, where pink unicorns can run free in the fields and they can scream shrilly about the injustices of calling software "master" and "slave" in an idealogical echo chamber while the rest of us get actual work done.

            "But I wouldn't assume everyone who didn't sign on didn't agree with the need for change; maybe they were reluctant to speak out, hoped RMS would do the decent thing without them having to nail their colours to the mast."

            Don't you think some data to might help you to know whether there's any truth to this unfounded speculation? Perhaps gather people's actual opinions, perhaps in an anonymous way, rather than speculating wildly about something you have no real information on?

            "I'm not suggesting a veto has been invoked over discussions"

            So you're saying that project members are free take the time to gather even the slightest shred of evidence to back up their assertions, and they just haven't bothered doing that. Right. Thanks for clarifying.

            "long standing leaders shape their organisation's cultures and the leadership around them. That has its own influence on the openness of the culture, particularly when it comes to challenging the leader."

            I'm afraid I'm now going to have to ask you to show even a single piece of data indicating that the GNU project's culture is insufficiently open. It seems to me that when an organisation has 22 (and counting) individuals demanding the leader's head with nothing at all to back it up, that's a pretty open organisation.

            Even if it wasn't, these people could set up an anonymous opinion poll accessible via tor. And remain anonymous about who set up the poll. And create an anonymous email account and post to the mailing list about the poll anonymously. and post the results to the mailing list anonymously. And set up an anonymous website calling for his head anonymously. They could be totally anonymous and smile to RMS's face while they stab him in the back, if that's really how they feel about it. And then perhaps they might end up with some data to back up their assertions which might convince a rational and dispassionate person, rather than screaming shrilly about how they feel.

            1. sbt Silver badge
              Alert

              A single piece of data

              That 22 people were prepared to state publicly that RMS was harmful and should go.

              When it comes to feelings, perception is reality. I'm not commenting here, shrilly or otherwise, calling out any particular failing on RMS's part. I'm commenting about the dangers and costs of running organisations in the manner in which the GNU project and FSF have been. It's a matter for the GNU contributors to make their case and present their evidence. I haven't claimed I think RMS should go. I'm just not surprised that others think so.

              For what it's worth, I'm a strong believer in freedom of speech and thought. I don't mind a disagreement and I'm prepared to judge the opinion and not the person. I'm pretty leery of any suggestion that employers should be able to discriminate against staff based on their political views, just as I would be for any other non-work related attribute such as their ethnicity, sex or orientation.

              There's a caveat, though. If the person concerned is a spokesperson or leader with a public profile in an organisation, I think the organisation has a stake in that person's public statements when it's possible those statements might conflict with the organisation's stated principles or policies, otherwise offend or cause embarrassment. In that case, I think it's a reasonable trade-off for the person to accept a need to at least stay silent on such matters for the duration, if they accept this role.

              1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                Big Brother

                Re: A single piece of data

                "When it comes to feelings, perception is reality"

                It's another reason why people need to *THINK* and not *FEEL*. FEEL makes very bad decisions, like beer goggles. FEEL is easily manipulated. And I *ESPECIALLY* don't want *MY* life regulated by someone else's *FEEL*.

                icon, because, *FEEL* is so easily manipulated

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: A single piece of data

                  You display the most emotion of any poster here, even when you're complaining about how irrational feelings are.

                  Not a shred a self awareness.

                2. sbt Silver badge

                  That'd be great, except...

                  ... people are human. We're not Vulcans.

                  If you build organisations, processes or laws assuming rational actors with perfect information and ignore how human minds actually work, with all our biases, fears and emotions (and the variations thereof), you're going to have a bad time.

                  Consider that it may be optimal (for example) for there to be a social norm around not flashing your bum at people, because most people would feel that was unpleasant. Do you still insist we're not all better off if you keep your bum to yourself? No man is an island, as the saying goes. You want to live in the world, there are trade-offs. Some sacrifice is necessary. Trust is massive boon to efficiency, and it flows from courtesy, respect and an adherence to certain behavioural norms. You don't care about trust? Enjoy your moated castle. Anarchy is ideologically pure, but miserable in practice.

                  1. Kiwi Silver badge
                    Pint

                    Re: That'd be great, except...

                    You want to live in the world, there are trade-offs. Some sacrifice is necessary.

                    A big problem is when the one being sacrificed is one who speaks out in support of a victim of a crime, even if that expression of support (or said crime victim) is unpopular.

                    I don't agree with a lot of things Mr Stallman has said, or the manner he has spoken in - but Ive probably said and done worse than him in my life (and I certainly don't have my name on an organisation with several hundred people supporting it - do you?), but as a supporter of freedom of speech myself I have to support his ability to say what he wants about all sorts of matters, like or hate his view, regardless of his position. Should his freedoms be stifled just because he's famous? Just because he's achieved more than most of the rest of us could even dream of? His opinions on some things are invalid just because he's well known for his opinions on other things and people look up to him?

                    Talk about "tall poppy" syndrome.

                    Trust is massive boon to efficiency, and it flows from courtesy, respect and an adherence to certain behavioural norms.

                    I've found honesty is, rather strangely to you perhaps, the greatest basis for trust. Courtesy is often faked/insincere. "Respect" can be born from genuine trust, compassion, or fear. It too can be insincere. "Adherence to certain behavioural norms" is often an abnormal constraint forced on people who can barely even grasp what it is let alone the reasons for it (especially those "on the autism spectrum"). Those qualities you listed - I don't see a good reason to trust someone just because of them, and I have unfortunately known too many people who try to push one or more of those attributes who are utterly unworthy of any trust.

                    Honesty, however. Even if I don't like what you say, hate your effen guts, think you smell funny etc etc.. If you're honest I can build a considerable amount of trust on that foundation.

                    (--> The first paragraph you wrote, however - excellent!)

                    1. sbt Silver badge
                      Angel

                      Should his freedoms be stifled just because he's famous?

                      No, because he represents a larger idea than himself.

                      Just because he's achieved more than most of the rest of us could even dream of?

                      No (assuming that's true), but because what he's achieved is precious and valuable and shouldn't be destroyed. And the achievements built by the hundreds of GNU maintainers are also precious and valuable and are worthy of protection.

                      His opinions on some things are invalid just because he's well know for his opinions on other things and people look up to him?

                      Not at all, but because sharing his opinions on controversial matters (valid or invalid doesn't matter) unrelated to Free Software risks the stated goal of GNU to empower all computer users.

                      It's not tall-poppy syndrome, it's a unfettered free-speech sacrifice public figures can make to further their other goals (in this case, GNU). There are more qualified people than RMS to speak out on correct usage, legal terminology and the psychological harms of abuse. His silence on these topics is no loss to the commonweal when set against the potential harm to the GNU project, and others will surely make those arguments if needs be.

                      Obviously if RMS were not the figurehead of GNU (or until recently FSF) I'd absolutely agree with his speaking freely on any subject and I'd agree with your first para "I don't agree with ... regardless of his position." without qualification.

                      I've found honesty is, rather strangely to you perhaps, the greatest basis for trust.

                      I don't find it strange at all. But a simple evaluation of honesty in the moment of a conversation or other transaction is not always possible. To return to the psychology aspect, we use courtesy, respect and adherence to norms as a short-hand if imperfect way to judge the trustworthiness of otherwise unknown persons to us, where we cannot independently check the honesty of that person or their statements. It happens all the time, subconciously. You might be rationally evaluating their honesty, but under the hood, you're absorbing the messages from their conduct. You could be misled if they can fake it, but that's not your fault.

                      1. Kiwi Silver badge
                        Pint

                        Re: Should his freedoms be stifled just because he's famous?

                        Should his freedoms be stifled just because he's famous?

                        No, because he represents a larger idea than himself.

                        To me, that is an exceptionally weak argument for curtailing someone's freedoms.

                        And the achievements built by the hundreds of GNU maintainers are also precious and valuable and are worthy of protection.

                        I agree.

                        But... It is up to them to speak up for themselves if they disagree with what someone else is saying from within their project.

                        His opinions on some things are invalid just because he's well [known]?

                        Not at all, but because sharing his opinions on controversial matters (valid or invalid doesn't matter) unrelated to Free Software risks the stated goal of GNU to empower all computer users.

                        [Fixed an earlier typo in my quote]. Sorry, but that is still a very weak argument, and perhaps a damaging one as well - but I will get to this point soon (unless the beeping of the dinner bell interrupts me and I forget)

                        There are more qualified people than RMS to speak out on correct usage, legal terminology and the psychological harms of abuse. His silence on these topics is no loss to the commonweal when set against the potential harm to the GNU project, and others will surely make those arguments if needs be.

                        Unfortunately not many do, and many who have one of the key qualifications don't because people will tell them it's not their place, they risk damaging their brand etc.

                        When black/gay/otherminority rights have been fought for, it's not those of us within those minorities who've had any real voice or power. It's famous people who've spoken "out of turn", added their name to the fight, that has helped.

                        People (some of) the public respect and listen to who've gotten in and said "They're right, we need to change' have brought about a huge change in thinking, whereas us "worthless criminals/scum/etc" within the minorities have been largely ignored. A couple of decades ago, almost every where in the world, non-straight people were perceived as criminals. It took brave people to stand up and speak up, even though they were "unqualified" and "risked damaging their brand". No doubt many careers were harmed, even ruined in the early days. Before that, people were standing up for "black rights" across the USA, risking a lot more than just reputations to stand up for a largely (and very wrongly) despised group of people.

                        People in minorities stand up, they don;t get heard; they get ignored, jailed, killed. Famous/respected people stand up, they get abused, but also get heard.

                        That's why it's important to encourage people to speak up for what we believe regardless of whatever "brand damage" may be done. Otherwise, we get disgusting things like the Mozilla guy putting money in to an organisation that was against gay marriage and him getting canned as a result of a very small few vocal people creating an uproar.

                        Obviously if RMS were not the figurehead of GNU (or until recently FSF) I'd absolutely agree with his speaking freely on any subject and I'd agree with your first para "I don't agree with ... regardless of his position." without qualification.

                        But, if he were not in some sense 'famous' he'd just be another voice in the wind that could easily be ignored, like many many thousands of other plebs who aren't worth giving a moment's thought or air-time to, unless they violently become some statistic.

                        I've found honesty is, rather strangely to you perhaps, the greatest basis for trust.

                        I don't find it strange at all. But a simple evaluation of honesty in the moment of a conversation or other transaction is not always possible.

                        Perhaps, given the context of the conversation, we're talking longer time-frames here than a quick couple of seconds? And not exactly talking about urgent life-or-death situations either. :)

                        To return to the psychology aspect, we use courtesy, respect and adherence to norms as a short-hand if imperfect way to judge the trustworthiness of otherwise unknown persons to us, where we cannot independently check the honesty of that person or their statements.

                        You may, but lots of us don't follow that same chain of thought. Too many "nice, normal, socially adept" people have stabbed us in the back the moment the cameras/other people were looking elsewhere.

                        In an emergency you don't want to trust the person looking to play social niceties, you want to trust the person who is getting stuff done - generally at least.

                        It happens all the time, subconciously. You might be rationally evaluating their honesty, but under the hood, you're absorbing the messages from their conduct. You could be misled if they can fake it, but that's not your fault.

                        The greater people are playing "social niceties" the more likely that you've already been misled :)

                        (I'd also much rather spend time with people who disagree with me than those who are in full agreement - "iron sharpens iron" etc. We can learn much more by disagreement than by agreement in many cases :) )

                        1. sbt Silver badge
                          Alert

                          Re: Should his freedoms be stifled just because he's famous?

                          I appreciate the detailed reply. I can't be as detailed but I'll try to pick up the points not covered previously or elsewhere, where a specific rebuttal can be made.

                          It is up to them to speak up for themselves if they disagree with what someone else is saying from within their project.

                          Well 24 of them did sign the open letter, and others like Andy made their own statements. The system seems to be working.

                          It's famous people who've spoken "out of turn", added their name to the fight, that has helped.

                          The amount of help provided can be hard to define. We may remember the famous people who stood up after victory is won, but I think that's a disservice to the people taking the larger personal risk. Sure, they can spend some of their cachet to advance a personal cause or espouse a view to a ready audience. But there's a cost/benefit analysis each person has to make: Do the benefits to this particular cause (such as trying to defend my friend's reputation) outweigh the harms to my life's work, where people will stop working with me or working on it?.

                          Maybe celebrities are only messing with there own careers and marketability, but founders and leaders

                          need to consider the costs to their own projects/organisations/companies, members/employees, and users/customers. What they're spending is not necessarily all theirs to spend.

                          That's why it's important to encourage people to speak up for what we believe regardless of whatever "brand damage" may be done.

                          Well, see above. It's not just about brand damage.

                          But, if he were not in some sense 'famous' he'd just be another voice in the wind that could easily be ignored...

                          Sure there's a difference between using your "fame" to get a hearing and using your "authority" as a shortcut to trust. But I don't take healthcare advice from Hollywood A-listers, any more than I do my plumber. Even if I trust my plumber more in general (because I've met him), I'd still only consider seriously his views on drainage and not flu remedies.

                          It's worth remembering that the objections I raised (as have others) to RMS's ongoing tenure of GNU go far beyond the particular remarks made in the mailing list, even if those specific remarks were misquoted.

                          For what it's worth, I read the leaked thread PDF rather than replying on the outraged third party reports, because of the apprehension of bias in the complaints. What follows does not rely on misquoted reports but on RMS's own mailing list replies.

                          I think there's legitimate questions around whether RMS made a useful contribution by weighing in on the subject, whether he lacked credibility due to his friendship with the accused, his own reputation in respect to women and the blunt and hair-splitting approach he took to making his points about a sensitive subject, particularly given the profile of the recepients of the list.

                          I wasn't going to go there, but famous or not, you want your cause to be advanced by competent and persuasive orators. From what I read there, RMS is not one, on these issues at least. The Dunning-Kruger effect may be in play here. But it doesn't matter if I was convinced or not. The harm lies elsewhere. I'm not going to venture any further into the substance of RMS's views on matters outside of Free Software. You are welcome to the last word on this point, if you want it.

                          Your subsequent points on honesty and trust show there are differences in the ways in which people evaluate each other and build relationships, in which trust and honesty play a part. I don't particularly like that courtesy, respect and social norms "work" on people, or that we all can't be totally frank and honest all the time. In some ways, life would be simpler. But again, the psychological factors I mentioned a few posts back mean we're not all the rational actors we'd need to be for that to be as consequence free as you or I might wish.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: A single piece of data

                That 22 people were prepared to state publicly that RMS was harmful and should go.

                So a minority of people have an opinion and are unable or unwilling to back it up with any evidence or even elaborate a well-thought-out rationale for why they think he is harmful and should go. That's nice, but totally worthless. I can find you a minority that believes in all kinds of stupid shit. I'm willing to bet that in the flat earth society the opinion that the earth is flat is held by a majority. But that doesn't make it so. Those guys are even willing to back up their ridiculous opinions with "evidence", as flawed as it is, so as far as I'm concerned they're on more solid ground than your 22 - at least I have an opportunity to examine and refute their "evidence".

                When it comes to feelings, perception is reality.

                I perceive all children under the age of 18 as a nuisance and I feel that the should not be allowed out in public without being fitted with a leash, muzzle, and shock collar for which every adult is given a remote. Where's the mob to help me with that cause? If I can find 22 people who agree with me I assume we can count on your support?

                This is why these kinds of decisions should be looked at dispassionately and factually. You know - with data to back up assertions being made and testing of whether speculation might be accurate or just wild speculation. Kind of exactly what I've been advocating all along.

                But, hey, who has time for the rigours of fact-gathering? The mob is ready now! And those pesky facts might get in the way of our lynching, we couldn't have that.

                I'm commenting about the dangers and costs of running organisations in the manner in which the GNU project and FSF have been

                Where do you make that comment, exactly? What are the dangers? It really seems a lot like you're saying that facts and and an evidence-based approach don't matter, and that it's the fault of the project management (i.e RMS) that this mob can't be bothered even making a solid claim, let alone backing it up with facts or even an opinion poll.

                I think the organisation has a stake in that person's public statements when it's possible those statements might conflict with the organisation's stated principles or policies, otherwise offend or cause embarrassment. In that case, I think it's a reasonable trade-off for the person to accept a need to at least stay silent on such matters for the duration, if they accept this role.

                I can't disagree with that. I did call his remarks unwise. He should never have opened his mouth about it, and his timing was particularly bad. But this organisation is not a political organisation doing outreach and he's not a spokesperson and it's not a role he "accepted", it's a project he created. It's also not a democracy and even if it were we're talking about a minority opinion with no facts to back it up. As I've said previously people who hold this minority opinion are free to fork and run their new projects just however they want. That's one of the freedoms RMS has been advocating for decades. I wish them the best of luck with that.

                1. sbt Silver badge
                  Childcatcher

                  We're starting to repeat ourselves

                  ...so I'm going to leave this here.

                  So a minority of people have an opinion and are unable or unwilling to back it up with any evidence or even elaborate a well-thought-out rationale for why they think he is harmful and should go.

                  Yes, it's an open letter, not a science report. Yes, it's their opinion. But it's an inside opinion. I acknowledged in my response to the top AC comment that the open letter makes an ambit claim, without supporting data. I'm agreeing with you there. That's why I said legitimate next steps included a counter-letter of support from other maintainers, a survey, a meeting, etc. RMS of course has the right of reply, but how he responds is telling in itself. He can reject the call for change and either deny that his leadership is causing an issue, or deny that it's a problem he wants or needs to solve.

                  The letter does express a well-thought out rationale:

                  Stallman’s behavior over the years has undermined a core value of the GNU project: the empowerment of all computer users. GNU is not fulfilling its mission when the behavior of its leader alienates a large part of those we want to reach out to.

                  We believe that Richard Stallman cannot represent all of GNU.

                  I thought the argument was about there was evidence whether RMS' behaviour "alienates a large part of those we wish to reach out to." But I'm not sure you accept the premise, evidence not-withstanding. If you don't, I guess we'll never find common ground. I think it matters what leaders do, but also how they are perceived. That isn't always fair or free, but it's a cost of leadership, set against the privileges.

                  Also, since the concern is with "all computer users", it's clearly not about internal polling of the maintainers or (now) 24 vs. 3-400. It's about the wider consumers of GNU project software. This is a much broader demographic than the maintainers.

                  That's why I said the lack of evidence was a red flag, not what the evidence actually pointed to. It could be that a survey of GNU software users reports they love the way things are. But as I've stated before, that neither side has ready access to such results already is on the project's leadership. This is not-for-profit 101. Not understanding this is one of the dangers I've been banging on about.

                  This is why these kinds of decisions should be looked at dispassionately and factually.

                  I never claimed otherwise. But there are facts about how people feel. And there are facts about how GNU has been run. And there are facts about the extent to which best practices for managing not-for-profits, succession planning and public relations have been followed, or not, in this case. Those are the costs and dangers I've been commenting about this whole time.

                  it's the fault of the project management (i.e RMS) that this mob can't be bothered even making a solid claim, let alone backing it up with facts or even an opinion poll.

                  It's a criticism of the project's management that the data isn't readily to hand. It should be anyway. That was my criticism. I'm just not sure you'd accept the results if they supported the letter writers' position.

                  But this organisation is not a political organisation doing outreach and he's not a spokesperson and it's not a role he "accepted", it's a project he created. It's also not a democracy...

                  It is doing outreach, and he is effectively its spokesperson. Not everyone can separate people's personal opinions on controversial topics from their professional role and some will naturally object to the platform effect that gives hall-of-famers like RMS an outsized soapbox for their views. I don't personally care what RMS's political or moral views are, but it would have been better for GNU if he had never opened his mouth about it, as you say. That's only one criticism I've made of his management of the GNU project, and it's not the reason I think he should consider resignation or reform.

                  The fact that he created it means the ball is very much in his court. But hundreds of other people have contributed their time and energy to the GNU projects and it's reasonable to consider their stake in the outcome.

                  He can carry on as before and risk GNU withering into irrelevance, or he can take the concerns seriously and address them. It's long past time to consider the future of the project. Does RMS want it to die with him? Is he willing to make a sacrifice to protect the long term future of his legacy?

                  That doesn't necessarily mean resignation, it could be reform to the leadership structure or the appointment of a different public face, if RMS doesn't want that responsibility or to otherwise stay mum. Many FOSS projects started by one person or a small team wrestle with this transition and grow to accommodate their size and reach. Many have blazed this trail ahead of GNU, which given its age, is telling.

                  There is already at least one fork, freesw.org. But the GNU brand has a value that will be diluted by forking. Forking the code doesn't make the GNU project better.

          2. Kiwi Silver badge

            Re: Shouldn't have to ask; well run orgs already know

            hoped RMS would do the decent thing without them having to nail their colours to the mast.

            So wait.. The "decent thing" is to quit when a tiny majority of people say you should consider it?

            I think you should consider quitting the internet. Now, "do the decent thing" and leave.

            The reason I quit using AC some time back is I realised that the 'decent thing' is to "nail my colours to the mast", to stand behind my words and be open about my views. I realise some post as AC because of legitimate political/legal/work reasons but this is not such a case. Those who wish for Mr Stallman to go should get some balls and make their point known, likewise those who wish him to stay. And those who are undecided.

            Don't chicken out and hide in hopes someone else will do the dirty work, speak your mind and stand by your words. That is the decent thing.

            1. sbt Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: Shouldn't have to ask; well run orgs already know

              Well, considering some of the cultish responses from (ironically mostly ACs) here on folks merely questioning whether RMS should listen to and address these concerns, I can see why some would be reluctant to speak publicly.

              So wait.. The "decent thing" is to quit when a tiny majority of people say you should consider it?

              I assume you meant tiny minority. The decent thing is to consider quitting when you're no longer an asset and before you destroy your own legacy. If only 1 or 2 people said it, well that could be a personality clash or rivalry or the complainant's issue. 24 people may be a small number in absolute terms, but it signifies there's at least a question to be asked. You can't explain away that many disgruntled maintainers, can you? Why rock the boat if it's all made up? Why burn it down if there's no fire?

              I think you should consider quitting the internet. Now, "do the decent thing" and leave.

              Thanks for the suggestion, but in the absence of any argument as to why we'd all be better off if I did, I think I'll stay. RMS need only address the argument that has been made to him as to why he should go, and we're all on the same plane. I have no issue with you making your request. Do so as often and as loudly as you please. Make an argument. Convince me. Why shouldn't the same apply to RMS? Is the being a Hall-of-famer really getting a hall pass?

              Look, don't take my word for it; have a look at Andy Wingo's take on the whole thing.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Shouldn't have to ask; well run orgs already know

                in the absence of any argument as to why we'd all be better off if I did, I think I'll stay.

                Make an argument. Convince me.

                Isn't this exactly the same position you're doing your best to refute in another part of this thread?

                1. sbt Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  You need to make an argument if you want me to respond

                  Isn't this exactly the same position you're doing your best to refute in another part of this thread?

                  No. I've argued consistently that it's reasonable for people to make complaints and it's reasonable to expect a response from people that lead you. I've also consistently pointed out that an argument has been made to RMS as to why he should go (i.e. the harm to GNU project).

                  The quote you referenced was in reply to a post that simply said I should go, without making a case as to why I should. That is the difference I was pointing out, without rejecting the commenter's freedom to tell me to go. I'm free to say no. They're free to make an actual argument. I'm free to make a rebuttal. RMS is, too. He's free to ignore it, if he's willing to accept the harm to himself and the blame from the GNU project stakeholders that reap the whirlwind with him. I think failing to respond would be disrespectful on his part. But he's not known for it, so I'll not hold my breath.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: You need to make an argument if you want me to respond

                    The quote you referenced was in reply to a post that simply said I should go, without making a case as to why I should.

                    What case does the letter make as to why RMS should go?

                    1. sbt Silver badge
                      Go

                      What case does the letter make as to why RMS should go?

                      I already quoted it here.

                      That there's even a letter makes the case for some response on Stallman's part. See the rest of the thread for further arguments.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: What case does the letter make as to why RMS should go?

                        I assume you mean this?

                        Stallman’s behavior over the years has undermined a core value of the GNU project: the empowerment of all computer users. GNU is not fulfilling its mission when the behavior of its leader alienates a large part of those we want to reach out to.

                        We believe that Richard Stallman cannot represent all of GNU.

                        As I've been saying all along, there is no case in this to be addressed here and no evidence at all to back it up.

                        * Which behaviour are you referring to? Please provide more specific examples.

                        * What "Large Part" is being alienated? What evidence do you have to show that a) the part is large (please provide specific numbers and sources) and that b) they're being alienated (please provide specific examples and sources, correlated with the behaviour you have outlined in response to the previous point)

                        You seem to think that it's not unreasonable to ask questions like these, otherwise you would have already done the decent thing and left the Internet to make Kiwi feel better and to save the Pandas. Yet you also seem to be arguing that it is unreasonable for us to ask these questions of the authors of the letter.

                        So I ask you: is it reasonable to ask for supporting data and specific claims or not? Whichever way you answer you're going to be contradicting your own statements.

                        1. sbt Silver badge
                          Stop

                          This is the end, my anonymous friend

                          As I've been saying all along, there is no case in this to be addressed here and no evidence at all to back it up.

                          Well we clearly disagree. There is a case made, and the presence of 24 signatures is some evidence. If you're only going to look at the claims made in the letter, and dismiss the fact that it was even written and all the other reports about the management of the GNU project (including comments by others, here), then you're missing the bigger picture which was the substance of the rest of my comments.

                          Which...? What...?

                          You're asking the wrong person, I didn't write the letter, or sign it. If Stallman wants to reject the argument made in the letter because he feels it's unsupported by evidence and the letter itself cuts no ice, he's free to do so. There seems to be plenty of reports available (e.g. via Andy Wingo's blog post).

                          You seem to think that it's not unreasonable to ask questions like these, otherwise you would have already done the decent thing and left the Internet to make Kiwi feel better and to save the Pandas.

                          Sorry, I don't see how the "otherwise" clause follows. It may be related to the flaws in the panda argument. No matter. The more relevant point follows, which resolves the contradiction you seem to think exists between this and the next part.

                          Yet you also seem to be arguing that it is unreasonable for us to ask these questions of the authors of the letter.

                          Not at all. I've never said not to question the authors. It's reasonable to ask for supporting data if you're making claims. Heck, that was the substance of my first reply to this thread. My position has been consistent throughout; that Stallman should engage with this "feedback", which of course could mean challenging it.

                          We're back where we started.

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: This is the end, my anonymous friend

                            There is a case made

                            A case that is demonstrably weaker and is now outlined much less clearly and with less evidence than the case for why you are harming the Pandas.

                            dismiss the fact that it was even written

                            You're dismissing the fact that the majority of people in this discussion have called for you to leave the Internet.

                            People write worthless drivel every day. That doesn't mean it should be taken seriously.

                            you're missing the bigger picture which was the substance of the rest of my comments

                            These are anecdotes at best. I have seen no evidence at all that "the behavior of its leader alienates a large part of those we want to reach out to" in any of these anecdotes you have linked to.

                            If Stallman wants to reject the argument made in the letter because he feels it's unsupported by evidence and the letter itself cuts no ice, he's free to do so.

                            He would be wise to do so, because as I've repeatedly stated no evidence gas been proffered. Your anecdotes don't even begin to address the issue of providing evidence that "the behavior of its leader alienates a large part of those we want to reach out to". a couple of dozen people does not make "a large part" of millions or billions.

                            I don't see how the "otherwise" clause follows

                            You asked for evidence or a rationale as to how you are harming Pandas rather than simply leaving the Internet based on how the majority in this discussion feel.

                            Stallman should engage with this "feedback"

                            What if the letter made the claim that Stallman was a reptillian and that his leadership of the GNU project was helping the illuminati bring in the new world order by spraying chemtrails in cooperation with the remnants of the nazis who are living in their secret moonbase on the dark side of the moon, coordinating with the dinosaurs that live inside the hollow earth? Should he respond to a claim like that, given with no backing evidence at all? Or is it OK to just ignore that and treat it as ridiculous?

                            As I've said, the onus is on the people who want change to show any kind of evidence at all to back up their claims and demonstrate that their letter warrants a response. This minority opinion does not warrant that in my view, and it won't until such evidence can be shown or until it can be shown that the opinion is held by at the very least a much more significant percentage of contributors, if not a majority.

                            But for that to happen the angry mob would have to stop bawwwing for five minutes and actually gather some data. So of course it won't happen. And until it does it should be treated with all the respect it deserves: Silence.

                            We're back where we started.

                            We sure are: with me saying that this letter is worthless as it makes no effort at all to back up any of the claims it makes, and you dancing (quite well, I must say) in artful circles ad nauseum to try to argue that evidence is irrelevant because feelings and minority opinions.

              2. Kiwi Silver badge

                Re: Shouldn't have to ask; well run orgs already know

                So wait.. The "decent thing" is to quit when a tiny majority of people say you should consider it?

                I assume you meant tiny minority. The decent thing is to consider quitting when you're no longer an asset and before you destroy your own legacy. If only 1 or 2 people said it, well that could be a personality clash or rivalry or the complainant's issue. 24 people may be a small number in absolute terms, but it signifies there's at least a question to be asked. You can't explain away that many disgruntled maintainers, can you?

                Correct, I did mean "minority". From the numbers I've seen quoted, GNU has at least 300 and probably more likely 500 maintainers. So lets go with 250 maintainers - those making the complaint are still less than 1%. If it's 500, they're less than 1/2% (<0.05% in case my notation is unclear).

                I've worked on much smaller projects where a much larger % of people strongly take a different view. Even with volunteering, they've either taken their ball and gone home, continued working but griping all the time (often asked to leave in the end because their negativity harms the project), or been mature enough to realise they're a minority, it's not "their" project as they came on board later rather than being the founder, and have worked diligently and worked for the project even if they disliked the decision. I can only assume that these 24 people are "millenials" as they expect a very small minority to be able to get their way regardless of the experience and expertise that went in long before them.

                I think you should consider quitting the internet. Now, "do the decent thing" and leave.

                Thanks for the suggestion, but in the absence of any argument as to why we'd all be better off if I did, I think I'll stay.

                Well I'll use one you seem to like. I dislike what you have to say. I dislike what you stand for. Therefore you should go.

                That's the level of argument you're making. I'm not kidding, see below.

                RMS need only address the argument that has been made to him as to why he should go, and we're all on the same plane.

                So if he was to address it (which is often a very stupid thing to do in these cases sadly - defend yourself and people will only throw more negatively your way even if you can show yourself to be wholly innocent of the charges - "trying to prove you're innocent just shows you have something to hide", "no smoke without some fire" etc etc etc) - if he was to address this stuff you'd back off from demanding he leaves?

                Look, don't take my word for it; have a look at Andy Wingo's take on the whole thing.

                I did.

                "The result, sadly, is that a significant proportion of those that have stuck with GNU don't see any problems with RMS. "

                Boils down to "Even though lots of other people think we're wrong and he should stay, us very small few dislike him so he should go".

                I read the post you linked. I read the material linked from the post you linked and much of the material linked from that. What I saw disgusted me, and just about brought tears to my eyes.

                Stallman said it's a bad thing to be claiming "rape" just based on someone being 17 or 18 in a certain area (ie "statutory rape") - as a rape victim I absolutely have to agree with him, someone doing something with someone just under age is nowhere near the same as someone holding someone down and forcing them to do stuff they don't want to.

                Stallman is being villified for commenting at some stage that he thought the age of consent could be at 16, obviously making him a 'child molester' in these people's eyes. For me, I could quite legally go out and bang some 16yo boy tonight because I live in one of the majority of countries where it is 16 or lower (I believe, never studied it). A lot of people would be creeped out since he'd be some 30 years my junior, but much of the world believes that if some 16yo twink is into ancient bears then that should be what he's allowed to do. Believing that does not make someone a child molester. (well, maybe it kinda does given the age gap, but it's still legal - and yes, arguing that something is "legal" does not make it morally or particularly socially acceptable!).

                The arguments and comments by these people, especailly as many are just based on hearsay and rumour or things they personally find offensive ("people seen lounging around shirtless in Stallman's living area - OH THE HORROR!" (without any real context given - was it someone who lived there? Someone escaping severe summer heat? A sex-orgy of overweight ancient bears? (this mindbleach is MINE! GET YOUR OWN!)

                I'm afraid the post you linked to has done more to harm your argument than anything else you've said thus far. If this guy is the calibre of those 24 who are wanting Mr Stallman to leave, then really they should just fork off and do something else, leave the rest of us alone.

                As I said earlier, my opinion of Mr Stallman, based on comments by other people, was quite low until recently when I had a little bit of personal dealings with him. Reading what you provided has helped actually improve my opinion of him, and the strength of character he must have to have been continuing the fight despite all the crap thrown his way, much of it like the childish "creepy teacher" rumours that 12 and 13yos seem to indulge in.

                1. sbt Silver badge
                  Childcatcher

                  It's almost 10%, but really not the point

                  Again, thanks for the detailed response. Again, I can only pick up a few points:

                  Correct, I did mean "minority". From the numbers I've seen quoted, GNU has at least 300 and probably more likely 500 maintainers. So lets go with 250 maintainers - those making the complaint are still less than 1%. If it's 500, they're less than 1/2% (<0.05% in case my notation is unclear).

                  24/250 would be about 9.5%. As I said earlier it's not the percentage, it's that it's more than a few malcontents.

                  I dislike what you have to say. I dislike what you stand for. Therefore you should go.

                  That's the level of argument you're making.

                  No. I suggested RMS should consider, and make a reasonable reponse to, the opinions of more than a few of the GNU maintainers that his actions directly ran counter to the stated goals of the GNU project.

                  Not because of his opinions. Because of the harm to GNU.

                  I'm not harming GNU or another widely admired long standing volunteer based project or its maintainers by being on the Internet. That's the difference between me and him.

                  So if he was to address it (which is often a very stupid thing to do in these cases sadly - defend yourself and people will only throw more negatively your way even if you can show yourself to be wholly innocent of the charges - "trying to prove you're innocent just shows you have something to hide", "no smoke without some fire" etc etc etc) - if he was to address this stuff you'd back off from demanding he leaves

                  I can't speak for what would satisfy the maintainers, given they're adamant he quits, but given how Linus Torvalds handled the complaints about his conduct on the mailing lists, there's possibly a way out for RMS that doesn't involve him quitting.

                  My comments in this thread have overwhelmingly been about how GNU has been run long-term and issues such as leadership styles, succession planning and user satisfaction awareness. Not about the mailing list fracas. So what I'd like to see him do to win back support to remain is likely different to the other folks. I'm focused on the long-term problems and long-term solutions.

                  Not getting into the substance of the complaints; I added the link to Andy's blog post as a counterpoint to the anecdotal evidence here about how people have got on well with RMS. If you look past the complainants' obvious distress at how their interactions have gone and the resulting hyperbole, there's still quite a big red flag here for me. There is a clear pattern here of behaviour which at best is boorish and at worst, abusive. Certainly, disrespectful and insensitive. That's for RMS to work out with them, though. I understand you are not persuaded by their reports.

                  I put it to you that just because how people perceive their interactions with others is necessarily subjective, that does not invalidate it. It seems like you've taken a particular but uncommonly strong attitude to the blows that have come your way. I applaud your fortitude, but I've seen many others who have not dealt with such knocks in the same way. It's hard to see things from other people's perspective, especially if they are not like you. I hope that does not mean you are defending RMS because you think you are like him.

                  Again, no direct experience with RMS so going to leave it there. Just to be clear. This is not the concern I raised that RMS should address. I was focused on the management of the project.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: It's almost 10%, but really not the point

                    I feel that you are harming the efforts to save the Pandas by interacting with others on the Internet. Therefore you should leave the Internet.

                    I am not Kiwi. There are 3 people involved in this discussion, and 66% of them feel that you should leave the Internet. That's both a majority and more than six times the percentage of GNU maintainers who think that RMS should leave. So by your own logic, you should do the decent thing and leave the Internet.

                    Also I'd just like to take the time to point out that by your own logic that we don't need to explain why we feel that you are harming the effort to save the Pandas or to show any evidence to back up this claim, because perception is reality and this is how we feel. To quote someone you presumably respect: "Just because how people perceive their interactions with others is necessarily subjective, that does not invalidate it".

                    1. sbt Silver badge
                      Linux

                      A bamboo man

                      I feel that you are harming the efforts to save the Pandas by interacting with others on the Internet. Therefore you should leave the Internet.

                      OK. There's no comparison to what you're suggesting and what I'm suggesting. Stallman's is a well-known leader of the GNU project and there are documented complaints of harm by actual GNU stakeholders. They are the ones calling for his departure. On the other hand, I have absolutely no involvement with Panda welfare, and no corresponding objections about me from the, I don't know, WWF?

                      66% of them feel that you should leave the Internet. That's both a majority and more than six times the percentage of GNU maintainers who think that RMS should leave.

                      Focusing on the percentages is missing the point. More than three people have commented in this thread and the thumbs go in different directions. It is a logical fallacy to rely on the weight of numbers to claim the factual high ground. This is not about democracy. GNU isn't run on those lines. We can say that 24 is more that a few disaffected outliers, though. The ball's in Stallman's court about how he wants to preserve and foster the achievements of the project and honour the efforts of the maintainers.

                      by your own logic that we don't need to explain why we feel that you are harming the effort to save the Pandas or to show any evidence to back up this claim

                      You're conflating some points about the weight of opinion vs evidence. I will accept without evidence a claim you make about how you feel. I will accept without evidence a claim that you will not support panda welfare if I remain on the Internet. I will not accept without evidence that I am harming the effort to save the Pandas. I will accept as evidence of harm, a statement from at least 5 members of the WWF that there are sufficient members or valuable supporters of the WWF or panda welfare that are discouraged from participating in efforts to save the pandas because I'm on the Internet. I would take such a statement seriously. I would respond respectfully. I would leave the Internet if that would help.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: A bamboo man

                        There's no comparison to what you're suggesting and what I'm suggesting.

                        It's the exact same thing.

                        Stallman's is a well-known leader of the GNU project and there are documented complaints of harm by actual GNU stakeholders

                        You are a well-known leader of this discussion and there are documented complaints of the majority of members of this discussion.

                        On the other hand, I have absolutely no involvement with Panda welfare, and no corresponding objections about me from the, I don't know, WWF?

                        I have donated to Panda welfare, I am therefore a person involved with that. You and Kiwi have never killed a Panda (I really hope!), that means all three of us are involved in Panda welfare. As a person who is involved with Panda welfare, I feel that you are affecting Panda welfare by being on the Internet. This is my perception and perception is reality.

                        Focusing on the percentages is missing the point.

                        Focusing on raw numbers is missing the point. The percentages say that a majority of people in this discussion think you should leave the Internet.

                        It is a logical fallacy to rely on the weight of numbers to claim the factual high ground

                        Firstly, you have made the claim that because 22 people feel that RMS should leave that it deserves some action.

                        Secondly, I never said anything about facts, we're talking about feelings here. I was merely pointing out that a larger percentage of people in this discussion feel that you should leave the Internet than people in the GNU project who feel that RMS should leave, so by your own logic our argument is stronger than that of the authors of the letter.

                        We can say that 24 is more that a few disaffected outliers.

                        We can say that 66% is more than just a disaffected outlier..

                        But I thought it was a logical fallacy to rely on the weight of numbers to claim the factual high ground?

                        The ball's in Stallman's court about how he wants to preserve and foster the achievements of the project

                        Unless somebody can show some evidence that the project is in jeopardy or that a a large part is being alienated, there's no reason to do anything any differently or to even address these unfounded claims.

                        and honour the efforts of the maintainers.

                        The majority of the maintainers have no problem with the status quo, unless you have some data to show otherwise.

                        You're conflating some points about the weight of opinion vs evidence.

                        No, that's what you've been doing all along.

                        I will accept without evidence a claim that you will not support panda welfare if I remain on the Internet.

                        I will no longer support Panda welfare while you are on the Internet. So by your own logic you are harming Panda welfare by being on the Internet and should do the decent thing and leave the Internet.

                        I will not accept without evidence that I am harming the effort to save the Pandas.

                        So why should anybody accept that RMS is harming GNU with no evidence or even a well-stated rationale?

                        I will accept as evidence of harm, a (blah blah)

                        I'm not going to give you that evidence. I've already given you a rationale, which is more than the authors of the letter have done. Evidence may not exist and I can't be bothered collecting it. And anyway, it's your fault if that evidence doesn't exist because you have not managed your contributions to Panda welfare (or lack thereof) sufficiently to be able to show whether you're harming or helping the Pandas. This is one of the problems with the management style you have adopted WRT your contributions to Panda welfare (or lack thereof).

                        a statement from at least 5 members of the WWF

                        ...wait... You're saying that all I have to do to get you to leave the Internet is get 4 friends and go join the WWF and write a letter saying that you're harming Panda welfare? I can almost certainly arrange that.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: It's almost 10%, but really not the point

                    Just a comparison point WRT the numbers: there have been polls that seem to show that about 10% of americans believe the moon landing was faked. That's the sort of numbers we're talking about.

                    In other words, 10% of people are fucking idiots who will believe anything, and whos opinions are not even worth engaging with or rebutting.

                    Also the number is exactly the point given that there's no backing evidence.

    3. gnasher729 Silver badge

      From personal experience: My wife, who knows nothing about software development, has told me _twice_ that I wouldn’t be allowed to work on some project. Once was the successor of Doom (can’t even remember what it’s called) because of the graphic violence, and I was actually told by her that I wouldn’t be allowed to work with Stallman after she read some article about him. Not that I ever had any intention.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        The successor of Doom was Quake. It was influential in bringing true 3D environments to gaming. It was a blast to play as well. I had lots of fun, LAN parties with friends and noon sessions with colleagues. Good memories.

        Yeah, it was violent. So was Doom. So is every shooter today.

        1. Pirate Dave Silver badge
          Pirate

          "The successor of Doom was Quake."

          Could've also been zDoom or one of the other forks after id released the Doom source code in the 'Naughties. And I only say that because I would think someone who knew what Doom was, would know that the successor was Quake, but might not remember the names of the Doom forks.

          1. jake Silver badge

            "The successor of Doom was Quake."

            The successor of Doom was the complete removal of gaming software on most corporate computers. Typical tragedy of the commons.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My wife, who knows nothing about software development, has told me _twice_ that I wouldn’t be allowed to work on some project.[..]

        Sorry, but I think you just made a number of unmarried people very happy.

        :)

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          "I think you just made a number of unmarried people very happy"

          Very happy that we're *NOT* *MARRIED*, yeah!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ... and then everyone clapped

      4. jake Silver badge

        My wife, who also doesn't work in software development (not that it matters ... red herring much?), would never dream of telling me what I am allowed to do, or not allowed to do. Ever. I return the favo(u)r. It is called trust. Might want to look into it.

        On the other hand, my wife would never make up her mind about an individual after "reading some article about him." She's not an idiot, and knows that most articles are slanted in one way or another, and reading just one isn't a good way to make up one's mind about anything.

      5. Kiwi Silver badge

        and I was actually told by her that I wouldn’t be allowed to work with Stallman after she read some article about him.

        I used to have a rather dim view of him as well based on several articles.

        Recently spoke with him in person. Much changed view now, and reading some of the other stuff about him - especially the articles accusing him of this and that (and what he actually said rather than the stuff they try to insinuate he meant rather than looking at his actual words).

        I'd taken the majority of bad stuff said about him as truth without once actually looking into the claims. Now I have, and have applied some actual thought to stuff around it, and I've had to increase my view of him.

        Maybe your wife should take a better look at things :)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Got any figures to back that up? And I mean more than three anecdotes about how RMS creeped you out by having a mattress in his office (he lived there). I mean actual figures. What percentage, exactly, constitutes "a large part"? What percentage is currently being alienated? Where did you get these figures? Can you show any work, or are you just making blanket assertions?

      As I have said before here, I have met the man, and I have come across clones with his attitude in business which I had to immediately shove into the nearest closet for their own good.

      Stallman & friends could do with realising that the world doesn't revolve around them, and businesses are there to make a profit. There are solid technical and financial arguments to make, but sadly, the zealots seem to forever unable to stay with those and go almost unprompted into "preaching the gospel" mode, even if that is wholly inappropriate and badly timed, thus scaring away the "non-believers" and pretty much ruining their opportunities.

      There are good arguments to be made during discussion, but the whole preachy thing switches people off, hard, also because these people only think black and white.

      I think that removing Stallman & people like him from the quation may do both frameworks (FSF and GNU) a world of good and there would finally be solutions that look and work modern (no, design-wise, I would not want FOSS to join the current trend of releasing alpha software and let the customers debug is, I still consider that a loathsome practice - yes, Redmond, looking at you).

      The problem is what to do with Stallman, because his whole life (and, I assume, stipend/income) is based around GNU. Maybe he could restart work on Hurd? Haven't hurd of that for a while..

      1. jake Silver badge

        I've met him, too. On numerous occasions. His biggest problem is that he can't abide idiots, and would rather not work with them. Methinks you agree, but have a different opinion of what constitutes an idiot.

        Suggestion: Form your own club, where you will be free to exclude your own idiots. Problem solved.

      2. Kiwi Silver badge

        Stallman & friends could do with realising that the world doesn't revolve around them, and businesses are there to make a profit.

        You must be a yank, right? Newsflash - a great many of us run businesses for fun, not profit (although the enjoyment we get is a significant "profit" even if we pour more money in than we ever take out - it's called living a life we love!)

        There are solid technical and financial arguments to make, but sadly, the zealots seem to forever unable to stay with those and go almost unprompted into "preaching the gospel" mode, even if that is wholly inappropriate and badly timed, thus scaring away the "non-believers" and pretty much ruining their opportunities.

        So because one of the victims of a crime is an unpopular creepy older guy, people who speak the truth about situation shouldn't be allowed to speak? Or is it just those who are well-known in one area aren't allowed to express their views in another?

        He spoke the truth about a situation, unpopular as that truth was. Once it was unpopular to speak against slavery, but people took a risk and spoke up against that abhorrent practice, and now it is largely gone from the world. People risked their careers, position and even lives, and spoke up in support of those of us who are wired differently, and now we can live safely in a world that used to demand our death or incarceration. People continue to speak up against racism, even in areas where it is still sadly entrenched. And this world needs more people who speak up in support of unpopular victims of crime or injustice.

        Richard Stallman shouldn't be getting such hatred for what he did, he should be at least getting our applause for taking an unpopular stand for truth (and, perhaps for him, a rare stand for reality!)

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "businesses are there to make a profit."

        And a few businesses contribute to free S/W such as the Linux kernel but these areonly fringe businesses, right? Fringe businesses like Intel.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It depends on how you define profit generation.

          If you define it as cutting all corners and only taking from the eco system, you're an idiot because you have just cut off your own access to dev resources. Instead, if you invest some resources, either financially, manpower or both, the payback is there.

          There's a thing called over harvesting - it is not a good way to plan for the future..

    5. Tom Paine Silver badge

      False dichotomy.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I totally agree but you know what it really is, its that the 18 people out of 300+ people who think that RMS should leave are the same people who post bullshit code that breaks everything, that are social morons, that are ugly (or at least perceive them self as ugly), are incompetent and useless. These people at one time would have left this mortal coil a long time ago if it weren't for all the anti-depressants that they are on.

      We are letting mentally insane people have a say in normal everyday dealings. This won't end well for everyone and all this progressively spooging all over the place will end with a cruel dictator/autocratic ruling party that will round everyone up (even the sane good people) and kill them all.

      Keep on spewing your hate SJW's, when people have had enough (and we are getting close) you will find out it isn't your right to infringe on everyone else's life. I'm a live and let live kinda guy but as I have always said when it affects me or people close to me (ie: affects me) then I have a say.

      Look if SJW's are trying to make the world a better place, that doesn't mean you need to burn down everything and start over... you just won't survive the "burning down" part cause your weak and the kind of people you call toxic masculinity will be the one's procreating not you so they will win in the end anyway...THIS ISN'T HOW YOU MAKE THINGS BETTER!!!

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        you ok hun?

      2. Snorlax Silver badge
        Devil

        @AC

        I'm a live and let live kinda guy..

        Uhh, ok.

        I totally agree but you know what it really is, its that the 18 people out of 300+ people who think that RMS should leave are the same people who post bullshit code that breaks everything, that are social morons, that are ugly (or at least perceive them self as ugly), are incompetent and useless. These people at one time would have left this mortal coil a long time ago if it weren't for all the anti-depressants that they are on.

        Wow, sounds like you need some antidepressants yourself. You’ve got some issues.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: @AC

          "You’ve got some issues."

          Instead of going ad hom on him, address his points. If you can, that is.

          1. Snorlax Silver badge

            Re: @AC

            Who are you, his social worker?

            His “points” are insane. There’s no addressing them...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @AC

              That sounds an awful lot like an admission that you can't address the points.

            2. Kiwi Silver badge

              Re: @AC

              His “points” are insane. There’s no addressing them...

              Sane people can generally refute the statements of the insane (at least where those insane statements are somewhat coherent anyway), even though the insane may not agree.

              So.. Can you actually address the statements and refute them, or has a person you claim is insane made an argument that you cannot refute?

              1. Snorlax Silver badge

                Re: @AC

                So.. Can you actually address the statements and refute them, or has a person you claim is insane made an argument that you cannot refute?

                He hasn't made any kind of argument which is capable of being refuted.

                His rant is *opinion*, not fact.

                Going on about "social morons" and "ugly" people? Please. As I said, the ramblings of a madman...

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @AC

                  Just one example of a statement he made which is capable of being refuted: "We are letting mentally insane people have a say in normal everyday dealings."

          2. Hans 1 Silver badge

            Re: @AC

            Trying to stay neutral, here (I disagree with the 18) ... but did the ac not go ad hom against the 18 or does s/he have some kind of evidence?

    7. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      He has never alienated me, in fact his message and determination to stick to it even in a challenging way has inspired me.

      Although I dont agree on many of his other points of view about other issues, when it comes to defending freedom I almost follow his every word.

      I have long believed that lazyness and incremental changes "to make things better" lead to doors opening wider and wider without many caring to notice leaving a large opening for a complete change in direction. Stallman like myself seems pretty sensitive to that which is why he can be so stubborn on an issue. Its because any change, even a small one is the potential start of a slippery slope, so any such changes must be challenged and accepted only if they survive long enough.

      I've seen this happen with things the UK government has done/tries to do. "Lets have ID cards, wont that be neat?", "Lets modify the law, just a little, to allow for more CCTV cameras", "Hey we have LOADS of CCTV cameras, wont it be great if they can talk to each other somehow", "Hey this old system of talking CCTV cameras is old and finnikey and expensive to run. Why dont we get some kind of A.I to monitor it al rather than those bunch of expensive humans".

      Of course some of those examples dont exist yet but most people I know wouldn't care to even consider what is currently possible, what they wish to achieve even for benign reasons and how that could be abused by governments of the future and why that should factor in against such improvements.

      Thus when Stallman does go, either forced out this way or natural retirement, I can see this creeping into the GNU project "to make things better" "to appeal to more people". Eventually I suspect that it all will end up being another Open Source movement (which was the first attempt to make Free Software more palatable) and then get abused while its core principles get fragmented and ignored as and when is convenient (like today).

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Angel

        A great iconoclast with his needle stuck in a groove

        I'm no disciple, but I can admire the man's insight into new ways to deliver freedom to people. But you have to move with the times and you can't keep dining out on old victories. Even Einstein struggled with developments after his big insights into relativity. His famous quote about God not playing dice with the universe encapsulated his struggle with the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics.

        I don't buy the slippery slope argument. That's lazy thinking. Life is complicated, you have to incorporate new information into your world view and adapt to changing attitudes and times. You can accept or reject each step based on principle and pragmatism. This is the same problem folks have with considering anything beyond truth or merit.

        Some of RMS's rigidity around security and surveillance comes across as pretty selfish (e.g. insisting others access non-free sources for him) and paranoid.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: A great iconoclast with his needle stuck in a groove

          "But you have to move with the times"

          Do you? Where is this written?

          1. alcalde

            Re: A great iconoclast with his needle stuck in a groove

            It's written in "The Origin Of Species" by Charles Darwin.

            Seriously, you're actually questioning the idea that businesses and organizations need to adapt to the circumstances they find themselves in?

          2. sbt Silver badge
            Alert

            Adapt or die

            @jake: Do you? Where is this written?

            It's written right here. If that's not enough and you want arguments from authority, you may be too conservative. Particularly if you don't like change.

            If you don't move with the times, how can you shape them?

        2. Kiwi Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: A great iconoclast with his needle stuck in a groove

          I don't buy the slippery slope argument.

          Open your eyes!

          Look at what our parents/grandparents for against in WWII.

          Look at how much of what they fought so hard to prevent has now come upon Western society.

          And have a damned good look at the many small, insignificant, pragmatic steps we took to allow what a much smarter generation fought to prevent.

          As much as I dislike expletives, I'll go back to what I originally wrote for my first sentence.

          OPEN YOUR FUCKING EYES!

          Some of RMS's rigidity around security and surveillance comes across as pretty selfish (e.g. insisting others access non-free sources for him) and paranoid.

          Paranoid he may be, but he is right. I don't see how it can be "selfish" to want to protect others from these things; to continue to fight so hard, so alone, even when the rest of us are too stupid or too lazy to even notice the need to fight and roll over in our lazy sleep and tell him to go away.

          "A little sleep, a little slumber..." - it's been said we're sleepwalking into a surveillance society. We need a ton more people like RMS to kick us out of bed, slap us awake in the most uncomfortable ways possible, and actually get us off our stupid lazy butts and fighting against the rubbish we've allowed into our world, piece by tiny little piece.

          1. sbt Silver badge
            Big Brother

            There is no slope

            Yes, I'm well aware of the dangers to freedom, health and happiness we face at the hands of governments (both foreign and domestic), corporations and other powerful organisations and movements.

            I don't treat lightly the sacrifices made in war to liberate my forebears from a multitude of tyrannical kings, bishops or dictators. Or the hardships endured to build better lives for later generations via back-breaking labour, overcoming educational disadvantage or fighting injustice and inequality. I understand each freedom I have was hard won at great cost and is precious to me.

            It's perfectly possible to accept or reject legal changes that impact on freedom or privacy on a case-by-case basis. ID cards are a good example. People accept passports are necessary here, for travel, but not ID cards for accessing public services. The fact that majority of folks aren't uncomfortable with the proliferation of CCTV in public spaces is just that they understand they may be observed when out in public places and there's no right to privacy there. They still reject emphatically cameras in private spaces such as restrooms, changerooms and airbnbs, for example.

            I certainly reject warrantless government surveillance of any kind. That fight is ongoing but there is no slope. Warrantless is warrantless. It was never acceptable. There's a clear line. There needs to be clear, independent and transparent judicial scrutiny of LEA intrusion into the private spaces, thoughts and communications of citizens. Proper warrants should always be based on probable cause and have identified subjects. No fishing.

            I don't see how it can be "selfish" to want to protect others from these things

            You misread. He asks people to use non-free (his term) resources like javascript enabled Web sites on his behalf so he can avoid the surveillance (but throwing the people he asks to help him under the bus, surveillance wise. Selfish, in my view).

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You had me until the last paragraph

    9. tfb Silver badge

      I find the the surprising thing about statements like this that anyone who has dealt with him might not have been alienated by RMS. He's a serious pain to deal with.

      Of course this is apocryphal (I mean: it's not apocryphal to me, I've tried to deal with him and I'd frankly like never, ever to have to do so again) and I have no statistics to back it up, but, well, seriously: if you've had dealings with RMS and not found him a really serious pain I'd like to know.

      1. jake Silver badge

        I've never found rms to be a pain to deal with. He's actually quite easy to work with ... as long as you don't expect him to change to fit into your image of what he should be.

        1. alcalde

          Having interacted with him, he's an intelligent man.. until you hit a point which would cause him to question some of his beliefs, then he goes into "robot mode" and just keeps repeating the same thing over and over like the proverbial broken record.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Boffin

            keeps repeating the same thing over and over like the proverbial broken record

            Think you mean a "scratched record". A "broken record" only plays for a little bit then comes to a grinding stop.

            Well it may not stop, but your needle probably won't survive.

        2. tfb Silver badge
          Boffin

          why-cooperation-with-rms-is-impossible.au

          He's actually quite easy to work with ... as long as you don't expect him to change to fit into your image of what he should be.

          Well, I was a bystander in the Emacs schism and that's true, so long as 'your image of what he should be' does not include 'be a reasonable human being who is interested in cooperating, at all'. I don't know if the mail archives are available (I kind of hope they aren't) but at some point it became clear that cooperation with him was impossible. For instance when people submitted really big patches (thousands or tens of thousands of lines) his response was that he needed a justification of them per line.

          Then at some point he just fell off some kind of mental cliff and started behaving like a robot: he either was not reading the mail he replied to or was consciously or unconsciously not understanding what it said, and replying with variations on the same unhelpful reply each time. It was, seriously, like dealing with a badly-written ELIZA.

          I mean, Lisp hackers are notoriously hard to get along with (I am one, I'm hard to get along with), but this was just extreme: cooperation with RMS is possible, so long as 'cooperation' means 'doing what he already wants you do to do in the way he wants you do to it'. Which ... isn't the usual definition.

          (And, just to be clear, this wasn't because people were trying to escape from the GPL or something. The Lucid people had some things they needed Emacs to do, such as 'work usefully in a window system' and 'fontify code', and were willing to contribute code under the GPL to make Emacs do that. And somehow he could not deal with that.)

          1. tfb Silver badge

            Re: why-cooperation-with-rms-is-impossible.au

            [Replying to myself].

            I should have noted that these experiences are from a fairly long time ago: he may be easier to deal with now. I suspect he isn't but he should have the benefit of the doubt.

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pint

        if you've had dealings with RMS and not found him a really serious pain I'd like to know.

        I've only very recently had direct dealings with him, and I entered into that with some trepidation because of the reputation I've heard from people such as yourself.

        Thus far, my dealings with him have been unexpectedly pleasant. It's unlikely, but I hope to actually meet him in person some day. 6 months ago I'd have turned down any direct dealings with him and probably avoided pretty much anything with his name on it, but a situation arose where my opinion of him was changed a little and that resulted in direct contact, and my opinion of him has changed from a negative one based on other's words to a positive one based on his own words and my own direct experience.

        Your dealings with him are different to mine, but that's life. Sometimes some of us really rub other people the wrong way.

  2. Cederic Silver badge

    empowering users?

    Surely the GNU initiative isn't about empowering users, it's about empowering users in a way that stops them disempowering their own users.

    It's a subtle distinction but does feel to be the primary differentiator between Stallman and the rest of Open Source.

    1. Nintendo1889

      Re: empowering users?

      How obsequious. Gnu empowers users in a way that helps them make changes and improve the software.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: empowering users?

        I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: empowering users?

      Call me cynical but it has lined the pockets of AWS etc very nicely, and they only started making the money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: empowering users?

        You will need to provide more of an explanation than what you've given to be cynical rather than just wrong.

        While GNU may have helped a little with utilities, AWS's real dependence has been on core web servers, OS and virtualisation initially, and moving onto databases, caching and security over time. The utilities GNU provided were undoubtedly useful, but the vast majority had broadly similar alternatives.

        If you mean Stallman's contribution, I would liken him to a fan at a sporting event - he may fervently support the team, but his contribution to the teams performance is minimal. Maybe I'm being harsh...

        If you mean licensing, I would point at large number of alternatives (Apache-, MIT- and BSD-style licenses to name but a few) and argue that GNU didn't really get what Stallman wanted and corporates did in terms of using the code for their own products, so licensing would have occurred with or without GNU as a front.

        For the financials side of things, you are equating profit with revenue - AWS has made significant amounts of revenue and chosen to forgo profits and instead invest in becoming larger, realising the real profit is to be made once the market has matured and investment in more DC's is no longer justified/required and size would be one of the key objectives to meeting that..

    3. karlkarl Bronze badge

      Re: empowering users?

      "the GNU initiative isn't about empowering users, it's about empowering users in a way that stops them disempowering their own users."

      This is so true and a lot of people do not realize this.

      It isn't about happyness, butterflies, LGBT, unicorns and all that stuff (there are other projects for that).

      GNU is actually a set of restrictions that are necessary for open computing to survive.

      People need to stop thinking of themselves and more about the better solution for the project and the idea as a whole. RMS has done far more good than bad so he should absolutely stay.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        RMS has been at the head for long enough. It is time for him for step down and let new blood run the show.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RMS has been at the head for long enough

          In a ship there would already be someone banging on the door.

          No, wait, that would be IN the head, my bad.

          :)

        2. Kiwi Silver badge

          RMS has been at the head for long enough. It is time for him for step down and let new blood run the show.

          Why?

          And more importantly; much much much more importantly, who?

          Do you know anyone with the same determination and downright stubbornness to keep the project going without compromising core principles for a little bit of current political gain? Who won't kowtow to SJW's et al just for some peace and quiet, even when that may mean the death of the project? Who will speak what they believe, popular or #sowrongheshoulddie?

          Is there anyone out there you're willing to nominate who will do as much as RMS has done for the project, and without destroying it? (I'm imagining Mr Torvalds stepping down and by a horrible series of events pottything getting the reins of the kernel - here we stand at a point where something as bad could happen to GNU etc)

          Who do you have in mind?

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: empowering users?

        "GNU is actually a set of restrictions that are necessary for open computing to survive."

        I'd say that was true about GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1, at least in its intent. v3 morphed it into something else...

        I have to wonder if RMS was a BIG part of the direction shift that brought us some of the things many of us now *HATE*, like GPLv3, Gnome 3, the 2D FLATTY [Australis especially], and other major irritations. Maybe even SYSTEMD (ok that was Poettering but still)

        If so, GOOD RIDDANCE. I dislike RMS's politics anyway. What he said online that caused the "snowflake storm" is irrelevant as far as I am concerned.

      3. alcalde

        Re: empowering users?

        RMS hasn't done *anything* for 20+ years except occasionally embarrass the open source movement. If an alien ship took him away tomorrow, open source would go on just fine without him - and if fact, we'd have less negative publicity stories like this one.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: empowering users?

          "we'd have less negative publicity stories like this one."

          Fewer.

          But you're wrong. The hand-wringers and namby-pambys, egged on by the curtain-twitchers, would find somebody else to pick on. It's what they do.

        2. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: empowering users?

          RMS hasn't done *anything* for 20+ years except occasionally embarrass the open source movement.

          OOI, have you achieved anything of note? Have you achieved much at all compared to him?

          If an alien ship took him away tomorrow, open source would go on just fine without him - and if fact, we'd have less negative publicity stories like this one.

          Nah, you're quite wrong there. Just look at how much greatness in this world has been destroyed by SJW's and other ill-informed nosey scum. Get rid of the guard at the door that keeps them away, they'll flood in and ruin the place in minutes.

          Unless we replace RMS with someone with a lot of his qualities (the bad with the good, sadly), the SJW's and other vile scum will ruin everything in sight before we know what's hit the fan and been sprayed all over the place (not that SJW's need a fan to help them spread shit everywhere).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deleted

  4. James 47

    I've never heard of any of those people.

    All RMS needs to do is identify as a female for a while and this'll all be forgotten.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge
      Joke

      All RMS needs to do is identify as a female for a while and this'll all be forgotten.

      That's actually not a bad ploy marketing tactic.

      The beard won't be a problem - even a Dr will find himself in hot water by drawing attention to a beard.

      He should have gone 'gay' in the 90's, and might have gotten away with 'butch lesbian' in the later 70's (wouldn't even have required much of a wardrobe change.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      you'll get more upvotes because upvoting is still somewhat anonymous.

      the downvotes are probably just howler monkeys with no sense of humor

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Happy

        re: the downvotes are probably just howler monkeys with no sense of humor

        Or people with a wide enough circle of friends to know someone LGBTQ.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Gimp

          Re: re: the downvotes are probably just howler monkeys with no sense of humor

          the downvotes are probably just howler monkeys with no sense of humor

          Or people with a wide enough circle of friends to know someone LGBTQ.

          He got an upvote from me.

          He's quite right about the SOH (though a few may've downvoted him on principle - 'tis BB after all! :) )

          1. ThomH Silver badge

            Re: re: the downvotes are probably just howler monkeys with no sense of humor

            I downvoted because my opinion about the RMS brouhaha is that regardless of the situation he is now primarily being used as a touchstone to pwn the liberals. So that post gets the same reaction from me as anything else that is overtly tribal.

            I just miss the days when the strongest us vs them stuff in tech reporting was <Spectrum vs C64><Amiga vs ST><PC vs Mac><iPhone vs Android> (delete as applicable).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I continue to be the Chief GNUisance of the GNU Project."

    Not to be confused with gNewSense:

    http://www.gnewsense.org/

  6. RichardB

    Nice to see the important bit buried deep in the article.

    18 or 300 or 400.

    Really? There's a hundred missing maintainers, but these noisy 18 are the headline?

    Where are the missing hundred? Did M$ and 0racle dissapear them?

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      It's ALWAYS the people that make noise that get the headlines. As the saying goes the squeaky wheel gets the grease (I prefer that the squeaky wheel gets replaced, or at least new bearings).

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        if you replace the squeaky wheel it comes back and SUES YOU

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          ever heard of the bystander effect?

          1. Symon Silver badge
            Stop

            re: Bystander effect.

            Yes, I've heard of it. It's probably bollocks...

            https://www.newscientist.com/article/2207693-bystander-effect-famous-psychology-result-could-be-completely-wrong/

            I hope this helps.

  7. Any other name

    "I am personally disappointed that Richard is choosing to continue as leader of GNU," said Lee.

    And I am sad to increasingly find myself living in the world where one can no longer say or do something controversial, or god forbid downright stupid or offensive, without a cheering mob assembling to nail their ears to the nearest wall, and to send their entire lives and careers down the drain. It is as if there is no longer anything in between being prized most lavishly, and becoming the public enemy number one.

    1. boltar Silver badge

      This is what happens when you bring up a generation of self important precocious brats who've spent their lives at school being told that every moronic utterance they make and opinion they have is just as valuable as anyone elses, whoever they are and no matter what qualifications they may have. It doesn't matter if Lil Junior knows the square root of naff all about anything, if he thinks that climate change is caused by moonbats in the sun or the earth is flat because you'd fall off it if it was round then he must be listened to!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Why do you hate Baby Boomers so much?

    2. Tom Paine Silver badge

      downright stupid or offensive,

      So you think people who are downright stupid or offensive should be put in charge of things? (No, of course you don't, but that's what you've just implied.)

      1. Any other name

        So you think people who are downright stupid or offensive should be put in charge of things?

        Not at all (although they frequently are regardless!).

        However, I do expect everybody, including those who are smart, sensitive, and socially engaged, to occasionally do and say downright stupid and offensive things. I also fully expect the views and attitudes which used to be common and completely acceptable to sometimes be recognized as downright stupid and offensive as time goes on.

        The offensive and stupid actions and statements need to be challenged and corrected, but the complete annihilation of the person's character and professional legacy is almost never the proportionate or appropriate response.

        So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. -- John 8:7

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          However, I do expect everybody, including those who are smart, sensitive, and socially engaged, to occasionally do and say downright stupid and offensive things.

          If you need a poster-child for that, I am available... (though I hear Donald Trump may soon be looking for a new career, assuming he doesn't get a new job title of "(finally)Convicted Criminal")

          Oh, wait, you said occasionally.

          Icon, coz, well...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >So you think people who are downright stupid or offensive should be put in charge of things?

        Well Trump, BoJo, ...do fit the profile...

    3. Alan Bourke

      He brings it on himself with utterances such as:

      ""Even when it is uncontroversial to call the subject depicted a "child", that is no excuse for censorship," he added. "Having a photo or drawing does not hurt anyone, so and if you or I think it is disgusting, that is no excuse for censorship.""

      Wrong-o.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: He brings it on himself with utterances such as:

        some of what he says makes perfect sense. I look at it in terms of whether an actual child has been victimized: If there is no actual child victim, there is no crime. Then you have to consider whether or not you want to live in a free society, or have "someone else's concept of morality" cause people to go to jail.

        I think Turing might agree with Stallman on this particular point, for different reasons and details, anyway...

        And I really don't want to live in a nanny-state society where THOUGHTS and ART are policed as if real victims existed.

    4. alcalde

      Do you understand what the word "offensive" means? It offends, by definition. This is like saying you wished you lived in a world in which people weren't outraged when outrageous things were said.

      Why should some people have the right to say whatever they want, but others not have their right to express their own thoughts on what was said? You want a world where free speech is free of CONSEQUENCES. Sorry, that's never going to happen. If you don't want a horrible fate, don't do or say or advocate for horrible things. Richard Stallman controlled his own fate here. He wasn't tricked into making the comments he did and it wasn't necessary for him to comment on the situation at all. He waded into the ocean and got swept away with the tide. Don't blame the ocean.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Why should some people have the right to say whatever they want, but others not have their right to express their own thoughts on what was said?

        Here's the problem. I own a shop, and certain classes of people disgust/offend/trouble/whatever me. Maybe I am openly Christian with conservative views and own a shop that makes wedding cakes. Someone of one of those classes of people comes in - let's say a straight couple who are each on their 3rd marriage. Because my religious beliefs don't support divorce, I should have the freedom to exclude these people or anyone else I wish from my shop/refuse to serve them.

        But thanks to people like you, they run off and cry "discrimination" and thus I have to do a job for them even though said job infringes my religious freedoms as well as my freedom of association (which works the other way - the freedom to choose who I don't want to associate with).

        People should be free to speak their minds, and we should be free to support whomever we wish to support, regardless of what others feel. Likewise, you should be free to go elsewhere/not rent your venue to me if you dislike my views and so on. A very big part of freedom is being free to chose who your clients are, who you associate with, and of course what you say.

        You want a world where free speech is free of CONSEQUENCES.

        Oblig XKCD

        I fully accept there are consequences for what I say. I've spoken 3 scary words that have ended friendships (where I'd hope for more), had an employer suggest I need to look elsewhere for work, made my closest friends cry, and also brought relief, joy, happiness, peace etc into people's lives with things I've said (or not said). I've hurt, maybe killed (by actions or neglect :( ), healed, and even saved a life or two (not heroically, just being there at the right time with the right words for a suicidal person).

        But that others may take a dim view on what I want to say doesn't mean I should cower away in fear instead of speaking my mind. That is the world you want, know it or not - people fearful of saying that they believe, what they feel, lest it upset some shitty little snowflake with an over-inflated sense of entitlement. No thanks. If I hate you I won't care what you think. If I love you, I won't let your desires get in the way of me telling you something if I honestly believe it's what you need to hear.

        When we're not free to speak, we're not free to help, love, or live.

        He wasn't tricked into making the comments he did and it wasn't necessary for him to comment on the situation at all.

        In no way was it necessary for you to comment here, yet you did. Why should anyone be restricted in speaking their mind just because they're a public figure?

        This world would be a little bit worse if Mr Stallman hadn't dared to stand up and speak what he believed. When he was starting out, there were people who believed he should stick to other things and shut up about software. But he had the courage to stand up, speak up, and act on what he believed.

        Can you truly say the same? Or does the thought of really standing up for what you belief cause you "a bit of damp discomfort"?

        What have you accomplished?

        1. sbt Silver badge
          FAIL

          Kiwi's Kooky Kake Kafé

          Because my religious beliefs don't support divorce, I should have the freedom to exclude these people or anyone else I wish from my shop/refuse to serve them.

          No, to this example, or any other grounds for discrimination between customers. Your shop doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's a part of the market-place you enter, where you can freely buy safe ingredients at honest weights and have people browse your wares without the constant threat of looters from the next village just grabbing what they want off the shelves.

          You get the benefits of food safety regulations and inspections that stop your competitors from undercutting you on price by not hiring someone to wash their cake pans or treat their rat infestation (Because you wouldn't want to mistreat your customers, naturally). You get the efficiencies from trust when customers, knowing your ingredients are not tainted, your kitchen is clean and they won't get mugged outside your shop door, will buy your cakes with confidence, even if they don't know you.

          That marketplace is the gift of your fellow citizens and taxpayers via the government. They don't get to discriminate based on your beliefs, neither should you. This is a basic quid-pro-quo and the government has a compelling interest in non-discrimination in marketplaces. For both customers and employees.

          You can hire people to work in your shop, and there are candidates available with the education and skills you need. They're willing to provide labour because they know labour laws ensure they get paid and there is some protection* against mistreatment.

          *subject to country. NZ standards should be pretty up there.

        2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          @kiwi - great post, as ever. An fair marketplace needs to have the option for a provider to say "I am not going to serve *you* for any or no reason. The open marketplace will then provide places that will serve *you* - the shop selling the same items as the place that said "no" gains customers.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Boffin

            @kiwi - great post, as ever. An fair marketplace needs to have the option for a provider to say "I am not going to serve *you* for any or no reason. The open marketplace will then provide places that will serve *you* - the shop selling the same items as the place that said "no" gains customers.

            Thanks :)

            I used to get around "discrimination laws"[1] by simply (and very often quite truthfully) stating that I was very busy and would not be likely to get on to your job for at least a week, and try another firm. I did this quite often even for valued customers (although a slight difference in which 'other firm' was recommended :) ) so anyone trying to take me to court would've had a hard time proving their case.

            The way I understand things, in many cases the psychological effect on some being forced to serve a class of people they don't like (especially if that dislike is borne from fear - irrational or otherwise) is very similar to that where victims of a crime are forced to be around a person who does not exactly bring them vast feelings of happy joyfulness. It can be quite an unsettling experience, to put it mildly.

            [1] It was done on the basis of how annoying you are, not based on other views - quite like to talk to people of opposing viewpoints as I may be able to convince them or I may learn something valuable! We did have one person try something once but it was politely pointed out to them that since I 'suffer from the same malady' they were using as their claim for discrimination, they'd struggle to win

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Do you understand what the word "offensive" means? It offends, by definition.

        OTOH if you don't want to be offended stop looking so assiduously for offence to take.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feeling welcome

    > I just want people who contribute to the free and open source community to come together and feel welcome,

    Except for that one person who has contributed far more to the free and open source community than almost anyone. He's not welcome.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Feeling welcome

      This kind of person makes everyone feel welcome by kicking out everyone that they have a personal beef with. They are so twisted that they can say it with a straight face, and indeed they don't seem to understand that they are not even wrong.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Contributed?

      He was very good at making OTHERS contribute while reaping the benefits for himself. His a a big parasite, well versed in propaganda, and little else. And that explains a lot about his other inclinations.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Contributed?

        He was very good at making OTHERS contribute while reaping the benefits for himself. His a a big parasite, well versed in propaganda, and little else. And that explains a lot about his other inclinations.

        1) [citation needed]

        2) What have you contributed to this world? How can you call others a parasite without making any valuable contributions yourself?

        3) What are these 'inclinations' you're insinuating? And, for them, [citation needed]

  9. Dedobot

    Excuse me but the whole saga reminds me of revolutionaries chopping each other after French , Russian etc. revolutions :)

    1. John Sager

      That's why you cook up popcorn. Watching the left eat themselves is very entertaining for us with better things to do.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        "... the left", @John Sager!? Seriously??

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      whole saga reminds me of revolutionaries chopping each other

      Splitters!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No, that's the GNU Peoples' Front, the GNU Popular Front are those 18 over there!

  10. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    At least we agree

    "Chief Nuisance". RMS's attitude and behaviors have been a detriment to the movement for a very long time. His early work in code was a huge plus, and his ability to rally the cause was also a big deal, but he could have been, a whole lot more if not for the A & B. He has had several decades to reign this in, but so far as I can tell, he has been content to do his thing as it has been. Problem is, his thing also is pretty efficient at turning off people and even making enemies. He ended up holding a lion of his own creation by the tail.

    I have to wonder if he had not annoyed so many of us, if the freeloading off of free software by Amazon, Facebook, Google, and the like might not have been confronted while there was still time to do something about it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least we agree

      What is an "A & B"?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At least we agree

        Aggravation & Bullshit?

      2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: At least we agree

        The previously mentioned Attitude & Behavior. Sorry. I was tired.

  11. davenewman

    Give up when you stop learning

    Richard Stallman came to give a talk to a free and open software day in Belfast in the 1990s. Even then, his messianic lecturing manner put off many of the people from companies who were thinking of opening up their software. Luckily his effect was diluted by practical Irish speakers, so things went forward.

    He is stuck in the attitudes developed when he first started campaigning for free software, decades ago. Since then we have learned a lot more about sexuality, mental health and society. Anyone who is still learning changes their attitudes and assumptions in the face of change. RMS has not changed with the times. So it is time to retire and hand over the leadership.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Give up when you stop learning

      Actually, there are things we knew about sexuality 40 years ago that he missed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Give up when you stop learning

        .. but enough about the beard and the sandals..

  12. Snorlax Silver badge
    Devil

    "Regarding his website being defaced, Stallman's personal site has been hosted by Positive Internet in the UK for a long time and he has many volunteers who update parts of the site daily," Lee said.

    What kind of cult is this guy running?

    Is it ok to be a sh*tty person if you're "moving free software forward"...?

    1. karlkarl Bronze badge

      Well... yeah.

      Free software is much more important than an individual person.

      And you think the CEOs of commercial companies are any better?

      1. Snorlax Silver badge
        WTF?

        And you think the CEOs of commercial companies are any better?

        Oh well, that's ok then. If everybody's guilty of something, nobody's guilty of anything?

        Whataboutism

        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        Tactic: Propaganda technique

        Type: Tu quoque (appeal to hypocrisy)

        Logic: Logical fallacy

        Active period: Cold War–present

        Whataboutism, also known as whataboutery, is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument.

        1. holmegm Bronze badge

          Remind me, what's he guilty of again? "Saying stuff that you don't like?" How many years should he get for that?

          1. Snorlax Silver badge
            WTF?

            Where did I say he should be doing time?

            However he has shown *very* questionable moral standards by defending the pedophile/people trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, as well as making comments which can only be described as pro-pedophilia.

            If that’s the guy you look up to, that reflects on you too...

            His work with free software doesn’t redeem him or excuse him.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge

              However he has shown *very* questionable moral standards by defending the pedophile/people trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, as well as making comments which can only be described as pro-pedophilia.

              Where did he defend Epstein? I did see him defend one of Epstein's victims, but can you show where he defended Epstein?

              His other comments were actually quite correct and not necessarily pro-paedophillia. If someone is using a fictional drawing, who is getting hurt? If you're wanking to a picture of me from when I was a 14yo and I don't know/don't care, l how am I hurt? (yes, found out a guy I knew was doing that some years back - didn't hurt me none then doesn't hurt me any now) It's not "pro-paedophillia" to tell the truth that these things don't always cause harm, especially when we're talking fictional drawings of non-existant people or innocent photos where the 'victim' wasn't hurt then and isn't being hurt now.

              If that’s the guy you look up to, that reflects on you too...

              He held a view, was given some education, and changed his view. He's spent a lot of time working hard for the betterment of others, and accomplished a lot for the rest of us. Only a few months ago I didn't hold a high view of him but now he actually is someone I respect. If that reflects on me, good.

              You might want to think about how your statements reflect on yourself.

        2. karlkarl Bronze badge

          Snorlax, no. It was more my nice way of saying that you need to adjust your expectations of people. People are not perfect. The world is not full of rainbows. If you throw your toys out of the pram if someone doesn't meet those expectations then zero progress will be made.

  13. andy 103
    FAIL

    People skills

    I've often wondered how the open source/Free Software community might have fared if the people at the helm of various projects had actually understood how to get on with other people in society.

    It seems to me that they have been somewhat stifled by horrible stereotypes, which are only being reinforced by people such as RMS.

    This is one place where the commercial world has things right. You're a great programmer? Brilliant. You can't interact with other human beings? Yeah, we've a ton of CV's from people who can...bye now. It's almost like Darwinism but in software terms.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: People skills

      I've often wondered how the open source/Free Software community might have fared if the people at the helm of various projects had actually understood how to get on with other people in society.

      Also it really needed people at the helm who's livelihood and income is dependent on monies made from the sale of the free-software products they have contributed to through the labours of their own hands.

    2. Snorlax Silver badge

      Re: People skills

      I've often wondered how the open source/Free Software community might have fared if the people at the helm of various projects had actually understood how to get on with other people in society.

      Who would you prefer to hire for a technical role?

      A person with good people skills and zero tech skills

      A person with great tech skills and zero people skills

      I wonder how many tech “Gods” like Stallman or Torvalds have autism, Aspbergers or are otherwise ‘on the spectrum’ - resulting in their total inability to refrain from physically/mentally/verbally abusing other people?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: People skills

        "I wonder how many tech “Gods” like Stallman or Torvalds have autism, Aspbergers or are otherwise ‘on the spectrum’"

        All of them, in my estimation. And it goes back through time ... For example, I'd bet my last nickle that flint knapping was invented by people in various places around the world who had nothing in common but Asperger's.

        "resulting in their total inability to refrain from physically/mentally/verbally abusing other people?"

        I reject this assumption. Demonization tells more about the demonizer than the demonized.

        1. Snorlax Silver badge

          Re: People skills

          I reject this assumption. Demonization tells more about the demonizer than the demonized.

          You sure? Torvalds is renowned for his verbal abuse. Stallman thinks pedophilia doesn’t harm children. These are fucked up people, whether it’s down to autism or just bad parenting. Sadly, some see them as role models...

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: People skills

            I rest my case, m'lud.

    3. bigtreeman

      to recurse is godly

      "This is one place where the commercial world has things right. You're a great programmer? Brilliant. You can't interact with other human beings? Yeah, we've a ton of CV's from people who can...bye now. It's almost like Darwinism but in software terms."

      CV's say what the employer wants to read, contains all the words to get through the filters to get to a first interview.

      Free software is what it is - not commercial, not flashy, not trendy, not secret, succinct, stable, real, communal.

      Why did people get drawn to work alongside Richard ? They could have gone to any of a number of free software groups. There are 18 maintainers who might be happier in another group.

      GNU is RMS is GNU.

      Ah, I can't do recursive the way Richard does.

      1. Snorlax Silver badge

        Re: to recurse is godly

        "This is one place where the commercial world has things right. You're a great programmer? Brilliant. You can't interact with other human beings? Yeah, we've a ton of CV's from people who can...bye now. It's almost like Darwinism but in software terms."

        Yep, unstable "geniuses" like Stallman and Torvalds wouldn't last a day working a job in the real world. They need their merry band of unquestioning followers to validate their behaviour.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: to recurse is godly

          Yep, unstable "geniuses" like Stallman and Torvalds

          Personally, I wouldn't put these two together and neither would I call them "geniuses".

          Torvald, saw a need and went with it, he has shown much stubborn determination to keep Linux going and become what it is today. However, he has adapted as Linux has developed and become more mainstream.

          I'm less certain about what Stallman has achieved since his early works on free software.

          Having worked with both types of people in IT, I am more comfortable with Torvald's personality as I understand where his motivation and passion lies.

        2. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: to recurse is godly

          Yep, unstable "geniuses" like Stallman and Torvalds wouldn't last a day working a job in the real world.

          These two have had quite an impact on the real world. They're worked very long hours, likely often getting more abuse than thanks, and sacrificed a fair bit to achieve what they have done.

          What have you accomplished? Is there software of yours in even 1,000th of a % of the worlds devices? Do millions of people around the world respect/revere/curse your name - or are you barely known even here where you're achieved the great "silver badge" status?

    4. James 47

      Re: People skills

      So you're openly advocating discrimination against people on the spectrum, who by their very nature cannot or find it extremely difficult to adhere to societal norms? Swell. So much for inclusivity.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: People skills

        @James 47: Unfortunately, there is a lot of it about. Some people want everyone they deal with to be effective liars - which is what a lot of their vaunted "social skills" amounts to. Honesty isn't valued, and the medium is more important than the message. I sometimes think that the future lies with moving the whole population towards the "more autistic" end of the spectrum..

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "misunderstandings and mischaracterizations of what I have said"

    Oh, so we shouldn't pay attention to the transcripts, we should just hear your version and be content with that ?

    I guess Trump is rubbing off on more people than I thought.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "misunderstandings and mischaracterizations of what I have said"

      "I was quoted out of context" is an excuse that's as old as the hills.

      Although, to be fair, it's also often true. Given that the morals of journalists sometimes fall lower than the morals of the politicians they're supposed to be holding to account - and so they do quote them deliberately out of context in order to try to discredit them, or even just to get the next headline.

      So it's always worth considering that someone is telling the truth when they say that.

    2. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: "misunderstandings and mischaracterizations of what I have said"

      I guess Trump is rubbing off on more people than I thought.

      His tendency to rub off on people has always been a bit of a millstone around Trump's career. Especially when doing it on camera.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "misunderstandings and mischaracterizations of what I have said"

        "a bit of a millstone around Trump's career"

        But not enough of a millstone.

  15. JDX Gold badge

    I'd totally missed that previous September article, first I'd heard of any of this (and it took me a second to realise this was Stallman not Torvalds who I'm used to seeing in the headlines!)

    I'm glad El Reg published that interview, it was interesting.

  16. SonofRojBlake

    Seinfeld reference?

    "Stallman seems to be the master of his domain"

    So... not a wanker any more?

    1. Bruce Ordway

      Re: Seinfeld reference?

      >>not a wanker..... any more.

      On one hand I've admired the work that Stallman has been involved with.

      On the other, I've always been aware that he has some personality "quirks".

  17. bigtreeman

    Ruminate

    Hey, you want a catastrophically insensitive statement,

    I'm your guy, or maybe Stallman is. Get over it.

    I see blunders after I've pressed SEND and wanted an UNSEND button.

    The old wildebeest is being challenged for dominance of the heard.

    Has Richard got some fight left in him

    or will he quietly wander off across the Serengeti to ruminate ?

  18. Spoonsinger
    Coat

    Theres alot of grumpy people on this thread.

    I blame Richard Stallman,

  19. Kiwi Silver badge
    Flame

    Small correction...

    "... catastrophically insensitive statements..."

    No.

    I was catastrophically stupid snowflakes who took offence at something that was in no way offensive. They saw an accurate statement and took it completely out of context and imagined some offence behind it. They could not see enough wrong in the world so had to manufacture yet more to satisfy their retarded over-valued worthless egos.

    Would be nice if these people hurried up and boarded that other ark, left this world and left the rest of us alone (I hear there's an opening for a couple of extra phone sanitisers on the sunnew planet)

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