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

mray mail at
Wed Jun 21 10:45:14 UTC 2017

On 21.06.2017 12:22, Erik Albers wrote:
> Hi all,
> Maybe you noted in the Newsletter May [1] a pro and contra between our
> Executive Director and our Fellowship representative:
> 	On the FSFE's Planet, we had an interesting dialogue popping up
> 	between our executive director Jonas Öberg who argues that sometimes
> 	you can use proprietary software to further free and open source
> 	software [2] although you should be aware about the risk of
> 	backfiring. And Daniel Pocock, our new Fellowship representative,
> 	answered with "the risk of proprietary software" [3] and that "no deal
> 	might be better than a bad deal", meaning that if you cannot achieve
> 	something with Free Software you should consider just doing without
> 	it.
> In our European core team we are having a lively discussion now about the pros
> and cons of using proprietary software platforms like Facebook, Meetup,
> Twitter and alike to send out our message of software freedom.
> You may have noticed that the FSFE for example runs a Twitter-account. We do
> this under some rules but in particular under the rule that these "services
> are an addition to the FSFE's communication channels and not a replacement.
> The teams have to make sure to always provide the information accessible by
> using Free Software without pushing people to create accounts on proprietary
> platform."
> Means that every information on a proprietary platform is only a
> mulitiplication of information that is given somewhere else, accessible and
> created with Free Software.
> Now I would be interested what you think? Do you think that - although the use
> of proprietary platforms is ethically not supportable - the chances of
> convincing new people to use and further Free Software are worth the punishment?
> Or do you think that our message should not occur on platforms like Facebook
> or Twitter at all, because it contradicts our efforts in getting people to use
> decentralized services, run with Free Software and therefore potentially harm
> us in the long run?
> Thank you for sharing your opinions on this,
>    Erik
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]

I think treating them as second class could be OK:

1. post on a free software platform
2. don't reply on twitter or facebook, just link to the original


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