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

Daniel Pocock daniel at
Fri Jun 23 08:12:41 UTC 2017

On 23/06/17 10:05, Mirko Boehm - FSFE wrote:
> Hi, 
>> On 23. Jun 2017, at 09:59, Daniel Pocock <daniel at
>> <mailto:daniel at>> wrote:
>>> I am glad you asked. Overall global GNUsocial users rank in the
>>> 1000s-100.000s, as far I know. Maybe somebody has better statistics on
>>> that. Here is a good overview of proprietary social media
>>> reach: Of
>>> the 3.7 billion internet users, 2.8 are active social media users
>>> (see Q5. What is the overall Social Media usage globally?)
>>> However, I don’t think this means much. And I don’t want to get into
>>> an argument about lying statistics or whether or not everybody should
>>> be using free software. My main point was and is: FSFEs mission (part
>>> 2 in the original email) is to advocate, and we won’t achieve that by
>>> preaching to the acolytes.
>> We also won't achieve the mission by preaching in the middle of a busy
>> street where people are in too much of a hurry and nobody can hear us
>> over the noise of the traffic anyway.
>> If people are going to argue in favour of violating our principles to
>> use facebook, then I would prefer to see the data first and if data is
>> not available, I'd like to see what plan is in place to collect data
>> about the effort being spent and the outcomes achieved (e.g. what
>> metrics will be monitored and why they are good metrics).
>> Without data, you can't convince anybody that this is worthwhile.
> Please don’t say "people are going to argue in favour of violating our
> principles to use facebook”, because that assumes a lot. Is it violating
> a principle? Is it Facebook we are arguing about? 

What are FSFE's principles then?  Without principles, organizations risk
falling apart quickly.

> Data needs to be available about all alternatives that we consider. How
> about we start by looking at what the reach is if we stick to purely
> free software? This information surprisingly seems to be less
> transparent, we know less about it than about proprietary platforms.
> I am looking forward to a data driven discussion. 

How about we ignore software completely and start with real-world metrics?

E.g. how many hours people spend operating booths and how many stickers
are distributed at each booth.  How many donations or new fellows can be
traced to each booth?  While it sounds simple, it could be a good way to
get some data that we can compare to hours spent on social media.



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