GNU Business Network Definition comments

Sam Liddicott sam at
Tue Jun 20 10:11:49 UTC 2006

Georg C. F. Greve wrote:
> As with everything, the devil is in the detail: How do you decide what
> is truly a Free Software best practice? How do you draw that line?
> There are people presenting "Microsoft Office on Wine" as "Free
> Software best practice" and they would certainly ask to be listed on
> any such initative -- most companies understand this to be a very good
> tool of customer acquisition and thus have a vested interest in being
> mentioned.
> Would you list them? If so, how? And how would you say no in a neutral
> and encouraging way if you decide that allowing to replace OpenOffice
> for Microsoft Office may not be in the best interest of Free Software?
> It is very easy in this field to be well-meaning and end up doing
> something that will backfire. That is why we do not want to move in
> this direction until we can be reasonably sure to do it right.
I think that one step is to recognize the different types of activities.
Here you have recognized that making closed source software available to
people moving to open source systems as one type of activity.
It is a supporting activity.

Another step will be to classify different activities against these types.
Here you recognize the MS Office on Wine presentation as such an activity.

Different types of activities have different degrees of goodness as well
as different degrees of ambiguity of goodness.

The activity you mention does have ambiguous goodness, it may be good or
bad depending on how it is presented. Its goodness is secondary, it does
not provide free software or make software freer but it may increase the
rate of adoption of some free software which indirectly affects drivers
of activities of primary goodness.

Other activities such as providing hardware specifications for GPL
drivers, or sponsoring free alternatives may have unambiguous levels of
goodness as well as being of primary goodness.

> We are painfully aware that people would like to see this moving
> faster, and indeed we would like to see this move faster ourselves.
> But I hope that you will understand our reasons to be careful, and
> agree with them.
Such information will aid the taking of care in this area.
It will tell us the type of activities going on and help us select the
activities we wish to recognize and reward.
It will also help us see which changes should occur in organisations so
that we can recognize and reward them, so then we can see how to bring
about these changes.

This suggestion may allow us to proceed without the need for broad
consensus yet, on which activities we should support.

Various parties to this discussion have their own anecdotal evidence
behind their preferred selection of supportable activities.

Let there be a lowly level of membership that involves paying money and
providing information which will be used to provide awards of
recognition and value. Those lowly members will have provided support by
giving money to kick-start the whole thing. Membership rules can always
be tightened a year later to cut out those who are seeking a cheap badge.


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