pdfreaders campaign

Sam Geeraerts samgee at fsfe.org
Wed Jul 13 22:52:01 CEST 2011

Martijn Brekhof wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 11:27 PM, Sam Geeraerts <samgee at fsfe.org> wrote:
>> Martijn Brekhof wrote:
>> Apart from these details, I think that the letter is certainly usable, but
>> I agree with others here that the style could do with some improvement. The
>> rather literal translation is a bit forced and it sounds harsher than the
>> English text to me. As spa8blauw says, it makes sense to put the emphasis
>> more on how to make things better than to point a finger.
> Are you talkin about the original or the revised version?

The original.

My thoughts on the revised version:
- I like the idea of an example text they can use. The less work they 
have to do, the more likely and the quicker they are to change it.
- It says that $PDFREADER uses a closed standard. I don't know how open 
the various versions of PDF are. $PDFREADER probably supports some that 
are not as open as we'd like. But I think this argument doesn't help our 
case. It would be more useful in a campaign against non-free PDF 
producing software.
- A reference to more information about free software should be a link 
to a straightforward explanation about it, e.g. [1]. If they want to 
know even more, they can still click around on fsfe.org.

> I agree but I think we should not deviate too much from the original
> campaign which clearly states that it is about open standards.
> http://pdfreaders.org/index.en.html

If my reading of that website's title and the campaign's explanation [2] 
is correct, then [removing advertising of non-free PDF readers | 
promoting free PDF readers] is the campaign's primary focus. Secondary 
goals are promoting open standards and promoting neutrality.

IMHO, the two latter goals are slightly more difficult to argue for 
within the campaign.
- If you say "stick to the versions of PDF that are open standards" then 
you also have to list those versions and do that in a comprehensible way 
(e.g. 'click "Save As" -> PDF 1.7', rather then 'the ISO 32000-1:2008 
- The list at pdfreaders.org only lists free software. That's more than 
just the 1 reader suggested on most websites, so we can claim it's more 
neutral. But some people might find exchanging one bias for another ironic.

>> Third point: if we're to suggest that they put a link to pdfreaders.orgthen they need to be confident that it's not going to be a dead link in a
>> few months time. When dealing with questions from website visitors, a link
>> to good ol' Adobe seems like a safer bet than one to a campaign website from
>> a organization you never heard of, which on top of that faces users with a
>> choice.
> I agree that that is a problem and we ourselves are the solution to that.
> Besides making sure the website will stay alive there is another problem of
> keeping the information on the website up-to-date.
> That is, linking to pdf-readers that really exist and are (still) open.

I'm confident that FSFE and its Fellows can keep the campaign going 
strong. My point was that our target audience, who don't know (much 
about) FSFE and its campaigns, should become just as confident about it. 
The website is simple and pretty, which helps a lot. We should be 
careful not to present it in the example letter as a campaign website, 
because that implies that it's short-lived.

>> Now all we need is a masterfully skilled writer to pour all this into a few
>> short fluent paragraphs. :)
> :(
> Don't underestimate the power of many.

Sorry, I was projecting my own lack of writing skills onto the group.

I could say: don't underestimate the power of ego. But I'm sure that 
everyone here is ok with having something they wrote get ripped to 
pieces to create something better from it. Jelle is taking it pretty 
well. ;)

In other news, some more ideas:
- I believe there's a "comply or explain" policy in The Netherlands. I 
believe that's not working out very great in practice, but at least it's 
an argument you can use, right?
- Is there any other national or European policy regarding free software 
and open standards we can point to?
- Do we have big shiny examples we can point to? So we can say "they did 
it and it's working great for them, so why wouldn't you do the same?".

[1] http://fsfe.org/about/basics/freesoftware.en.html
[2] http://fsfe.org/campaigns/pdfreaders/

Sam Geeraerts

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