Is it acceptable to use proprietary software (platforms) to promote software freedom?

Paul Boddie paul at
Thu Jul 6 19:40:03 UTC 2017

On Thursday 6. July 2017 19.11.13 Thomas Doczkal wrote:
> Thanks for your mail Erik. I fully support what you say. This makes all
> sense to me.
> Well one thing is with online activities you can even track down the effect
> to single users if you like to. Personalized links is the hint here. We
> fortunately don't have it but Facebook and Xing or Twitter do, to name
> just a few.

I think we have to be careful. Metrics gathering can quickly become something 
similar to surveillance, and then you need to be careful in justifying what 
kind of information you are gathering and how people's activities are being 
monitored. It is even more sensitive if you are an organisation that is 
opposed to pervasive surveillance, as I indeed noted a few years ago when the 
UK Pirate Party had Google Analytics integrated into their Web presence while 
being conspicuously opposed to exactly that kind of thing in their rhetoric.

I remember in the previous iteration of the Fellowship Wiki, there was an 
apparent need to introduce Piwik support, which was an alternative to using 
Google Analytics like many sites do. But I felt rather uneasy about this. Not 
only did it tend to slow down the page loading (as Google Analytics and the 
now-commonplace parade of scripts tend to do), but it wasn't clear why we 
needed to track people around FSFE "assets". Were we actually learning 
anything or was this just another neat piece of technology to deploy?

Since the original request for feedback, I became even more aware that the 
FSF's Defective By Design campaigners use non-free social networks as a tool 
to spread their message. Then again, I find the style of that campaign to be 
rather counterproductive in certain regards, so perhaps it shouldn't be taken 
as an example of what to do, necessarily.


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