Feedback appreciated for "There is no Free Software company - But!"

Paul Boddie paul at
Mon Nov 28 18:29:38 UTC 2016

On Tuesday 15. November 2016 18.28.30 Matthias Kirschner wrote:
> I just published a blog post about a topic we discussed at the FSFE's
> last general assembly. Please let me know what you think about it.
> Looking forward to your feedback.
> (The text is also online available under
> <>. Feel free to
> share it so we get a wide range of feedback.)

Sorry not to have responded before, but there were some points I was going to 


> One thought was to run "test cases" to evaluate how good an offer is on the
> Free Software scale.  Something like a regular bulletin about best and
> worst practice. We could look at a business activities and study it
> according to the criteria below, evaluate it, making that evaluation and
> its conclusions public. That way we can help to build customer awareness
> about software freedom.

This is an interesting idea, but who is going to run all these "test cases"? 
To an extent, this sounds a bit like there are some people/businesses out 
there who want to appear at the top of such a scale for promotional purposes, 
but how can such "testing" be done in a sustainable way and without being 
compromised by things like sponsorship to cover the effort involved?


> **Now I would like to know from you:** what is your first reaction on this?
> Would you like to add something? Do you have ideas what should be included
> in a checklist for such a test? Would you be interested to help us to
> evaluate how good some offers are on such a scale?
> To summarise, I believe it was a mistake to think about businesses as a
> whole before and that if we want to take the next big steps we should
> think about Free Software business offers / activities – at least until we
> have a better name for what I described above. We should help companies
> that they are not deluded by people just claiming something is Free
> Software, but give them the tools to check themselves.

I'm not sure how much effort people would spend towards considering whether an 
individual is a "Free Software person", but one way that businesses might be 
evaluated in a similar fashion is how they interact with the community. It 
seems like the suggested scale only refers to the provision of products and 
services, and for the average customer/user their level of interaction with a 
company may not go beyond that point, but especially where companies are not 
the origin of the Free Software concerned, it is very important to consider 
how (or whether) they cooperate with the people on whose work they are 

If a company develops Free Software but does so in a "silo", throwing the code 
over the wall and limiting collaboration opportunities, is that company a good 
Free Software company?


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