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What do you think about softwareliberty.com?

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ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13

Hi all,

I've been working on my personal time to build a website called softwareliberty.com and I'd like to have your opinions.

The motivation for the website: the FSF definition of Free Software is aimed at programmers. The Wikipedia article is too long.
My personal requirements were:
1. Explain it to a non-techie relative in less than 200 words
2. Point to good resources in case reader is interested.
I did not try to replace the FSF page but instead bring the ideas it contains to people who just wouldn't read it.

The results now sits at softwareliberty.com (I could not purchase the .org domain). I tried to make the style simple and a little stylish. There are a few hours of work left on the accessibility, code validity, IE compatibility, to be done, but I consider the content pretty much finished.

I am looking for your remarks on two levels:

  1. Are there mistakes you can spot? criticisms, corrections on the content?
  2. Would it be sensible to transfer that website in the hands of GNU/Linux Matters? I believe it fits well in its goals and could be a handy place to link to whenever mentioning FS.

Currently this is strictly personal, CC-BY-SA licensed. In case we agree it fits into GLM I'd be very happy to transfer it entirely.
Thanks,
Olivier.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21
Trying to imagine being

Trying to imagine being less of a techie... I think lot of questions are raised:

Why would I want someone to read or modify the code for me? What's the point of reading it anyway? And I don't think I need any modifications, it works fine as it is, doesn't it? Also, if I have someone change the code for me, won't that make my software incompatible with that of everyone else?

Gustavo's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-11
Hi, Olivier!The project is

Hi, Olivier!

The project is very good! If it could be endorsed/supported by GLM, that would be great!

I have two suggestions:

1.- "Software liberty" should not be an image. I think it should be text: clients that are not able to render/"understand" images in HTML, won't understand what you mean by "refers to the notion of freedom in computing"... And that includes search engines.

2.- I'd add this text to the "Free software can be copied" section:

Quote:

Software products are the only kind of product whose duplicate cost is null; you actually pay for the material and means with which you store and transmit it, respectively, but they are not part of the duplicate cost per se. As a result, honest software vendors would never try to sell individual copies of a given software: They won't apply traditional commercial strategies on an unprecedented product type, but use sensitive strategies according to the new technological age.

Cheers!

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Joined: 2006-03-28
I think this could be a

I think this could be a really nice addition of the GLM-network. It pretty much follows all the guidelines, which can more or less be summed up in "keep it short and simple".

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
This is a very nice site,

This is a very nice site, but I feel that the real mind set with which a total newbie to the concept of Free Software may approach it easily escapes even some of the best attempts to present it to them..

I mean, people today respond to buzzwords better than to almost biblically sounding terms like "freedom" on their own. What does "freedom in computing" really represent? The word "freedom" is tainted enough today to be quite vague without being combined with something that would define, very specifically, what is meant by it. In my opinion "freedom in computing" might not cut it. Maybe a more personal approach would work better. Perhaps something like this:

"Software liberty refers to freedom to control your own computing." or "Software liberty refers to freedom to control your own digital lifestyle.

It's fairly similar, but it adds this word "control" and software freedom is really mostly about control by the user over his computer rather than control by the vendor over the user's computing.

Also.. "Your abilities to communicate with others, to study and to work are related to free software."

I am not sure it's so much about ability as much about rights and legally enforced "power" to do so. However, some people may find it weird that a site talks about the ability or even right to communicate with others and study.. they can do that already (even if using restricted softwar). What's the catch here?

I think maybe it would be better to talk about empowerment rather than just granting an ability. "Empowerment implies "more power" and that is exactly what we want to tell them.. With Free Software you have more power because you have more freedom! With Free Software you take control!

So maybe this could work: "To empower your work, study and sharing is what Free Software is about."

Now, don't necessarily take these propositions "as is" because the wording may yet be improved. These are just some ideas trying to help make the message a bit more enticing.

One other quick suggestion regarding further text.

Quote:

Free software is enabled by the availability of source code, the "recipe" for the software.

How about "Free Software enables you by the availability of source code.." or "Free Software empowers through the availability of source code.". Just a thought.

Cheers

ariadacapo's picture
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Quote: Why would I want
Quote:

Why would I want someone to read or modify the code for me? What's the point of reading it anyway? And I don't think I need any modifications, it works fine as it is, doesn't it? Also, if I have someone change the code for me, won't that make my software incompatible with that of everyone else?

These are fantastic questions! It's always hard to change one's head to that of a newcomer.
I think the best way to deal with them is in an FAQ on the website. Of course it takes time to write good answers, any input is highly welcome =)

Another (big) item in the to-do.

Olivier.

ariadacapo's picture
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re:

Hi!

Gustavo wrote:

"Software liberty" should not be an image. I think it should be text: clients that are not able to render/"understand" images in HTML, won't understand what you mean by "refers to the notion of freedom in computing"... And that includes search engines.

I understand your concern and I admit that the text image is an accessibility problem. I did that because a graphic allows the title to be displayed exactly the way I want it on every computer irrespective of browser, font size, installed fonts, screen size&resolution etc.
There are two compensations for the problem you mention:
1. A text browser will typically not read the CSS style-sheet and thus read the h1 title: Software Liberty. Try reading the website with CSS disabled (easy with Firefox and the Webdevelopper extension)
2. If the image is not displayed, normally the alt is read/displayed instead. This completes the sentence, try reading the website with images blocked (again easy with that extension).
So I think it's quite an acceptable compromise. The big advantage of the image is that it gives some kind of a "stylish edgy" look to the site.

Gustavo wrote:

2.- I'd add this text to the "Free software can be copied" section:

Quote:

Software products are the only kind of product whose duplicate cost is null; you actually pay for the material and means with which you store and transmit it, respectively, but they are not part of the duplicate cost per se. As a result, honest software vendors would never try to sell individual copies of a given software: They won't apply traditional commercial strategies on an unprecedented product type, but use sensitive strategies according to the new technological age.

I understand why you want to express this, but I can see two problems:
1. There is not much space... I already failed keeping the thing under 200 words, I think we should keep it extremely short. So perhaps an extra FAQ would be more appropriate.
2. The argument is not going to convince everybody. For example, let me take the example of a train that's been brought here to the station. It does not cost anything more to run it now whether there are 0 passengers or 100 passengers in it - still, it's ok to charge a price for something which directly does not cost anything.
I'm not trying to say you're wrong here, only that the justification you propose will not work completely without more details.
So perhaps re-phrasing this as either one of the Debian FAQs or part of the FLOSS booklet would work?

Anyway, thanks very much for the comments!

ariadacapo's picture
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re:

thanks for the criticism :-)
In fact, I realize I should now always ask everyone for strictly two or three criticisms, this is the most constructive way =)

libervisco wrote:

I mean, people today respond to buzzwords better than to almost biblically sounding terms like "freedom" on their own. What does "freedom in computing" really represent? The word "freedom" is tainted enough today to be quite vague without being combined with something that would define, very specifically, what is meant by it.
[...]

"Software liberty refers to freedom to control your own computing." or "Software liberty refers to freedom to control your own digital lifestyle.

"digital lifestlyle" is too far-fetched for, say, my dad, but I like the first proposal a lot. Is "Software liberty refers to the freedom to control your own computing." grammatically more correct?

Quote:

Also.. "Your abilities to communicate with others, to study and to work are related to free software." I am not sure it's so much about ability as much about rights and legally enforced "power" to do so.
[...]
I think maybe it would be better to talk about empowerment rather than just granting an ability.
[...]
With Free Software you have more power because you have more freedom! With Free Software you take control!
[...]
So maybe this could work: "To empower your work, study and sharing is what Free Software is about."

I like the word "empower" a lot. My intent in this sentence was to say: "it matters to you, to anyone".

Could this work?
"Because it empowers the user to work, study and communicate, free software is important for anyone."
I think the word "sharing" should be avoided in that sentence, because without clarification, it can be easily associated with either "naive communism" or "illegal file sharing".

libervisco wrote:
Quote:

Free software is enabled by the availability of source code, the "recipe" for the software.

How about "Free Software enables you by the availability of source code.." or "Free Software empowers through the availability of source code.".

Here my intent was to explain that source code enables free software, instead of free software existing for source code. It's obviously awkwardly-phrased, but I don't think your proposal matches it ("how will a bunch of source code empower me?")

So lots of excellent things here, let's work out a solution.

ariadacapo's picture
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All in all

All in all thanks very much for the comments, and apologies for the long delay in replying.

If no-one opposes it we'll integrate it into GLM and open a tracker account with SVN repository for it.

I'm glad it seems a fit project for GLM. I have further such ideas for small websites and shall open a thread soon about that.

Olivier.

libervisco's picture
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ariadacapo wrote: Is
ariadacapo wrote:

Is "Software liberty refers to the freedom to control your own computing." grammatically more correct?

I'm not a native english speaker, but it does look a bit more right to me. I'd go with that one then.

ariadacapo wrote:

Could this work?
"Because it empowers the user to work, study and communicate, free software is important for anyone."

I think so. I guess it's hard to express it without at least a little bit of vagueness (about in what exactly way does it empower), but the site doesn't go that deep into explaining things, just capturing people's curiosity to explore further. In that context I think this'll work well.

Cheers

Gustavo's picture
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libervisco
libervisco wrote:
ariadacapo wrote:

Is "Software liberty refers to the freedom to control your own computing." grammatically more correct?

I'm not a native english speaker, but it does look a bit more right to me. I'd go with that one then.

I think so too.

Gustavo's picture
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Hi!ariadacapo

Hi!

ariadacapo wrote:

Hi!

Gustavo wrote:

"Software liberty" should not be an image. I think it should be text: clients that are not able to render/"understand" images in HTML, won't understand what you mean by "refers to the notion of freedom in computing"... And that includes search engines.

I understand your concern and I admit that the text image is an accessibility problem. I did that because a graphic allows the title to be displayed exactly the way I want it on every computer irrespective of browser, font size, installed fonts, screen size&resolution etc.
There are two compensations for the problem you mention:
1. A text browser will typically not read the CSS style-sheet and thus read the h1 title: Software Liberty. Try reading the website with CSS disabled (easy with Firefox and the Webdevelopper extension)
2. If the image is not displayed, normally the alt is read/displayed instead. This completes the sentence, try reading the website with images blocked (again easy with that extension).

Images are made to display graphics, not text. We're going to get unpleasant results if we keep it: The most important paragraph of the webpage would be incomplete, unless your web client displays graphics and you are able to read them. No matter what work-around we implement, alt attributes won't act as a part of a phrase.

I like option #1 very much. I think that's the way to go.

ariadacapo wrote:

So I think it's quite an acceptable compromise. The big advantage of the image is that it gives some kind of a "stylish edgy" look to the site.

Yes, but it would be still a major disrespect to web accessibility.

ariadacapo wrote:
Gustavo wrote:

2.- I'd add this text to the "Free software can be copied" section:

Quote:

Software products are the only kind of product whose duplicate cost is null; you actually pay for the material and means with which you store and transmit it, respectively, but they are not part of the duplicate cost per se. As a result, honest software vendors would never try to sell individual copies of a given software: They won't apply traditional commercial strategies on an unprecedented product type, but use sensitive strategies according to the new technological age.

I understand why you want to express this, but I can see two problems:
1. There is not much space... I already failed keeping the thing under 200 words, I think we should keep it extremely short. So perhaps an extra FAQ would be more appropriate.
2. The argument is not going to convince everybody. For example, let me take the example of a train that's been brought here to the station. It does not cost anything more to run it now whether there are 0 passengers or 100 passengers in it - still, it's ok to charge a price for something which directly does not cost anything.
I'm not trying to say you're wrong here, only that the justification you propose will not work completely without more details.
So perhaps re-phrasing this as either one of the Debian FAQs or part of the FLOSS booklet would work?

Yes, I think you're absolutely right. I like the Debian FAQ, so here's my try:
"Software is not like making hardware: Once you've created a software product, you can make any amount of copies while spending no money. This is why honest software vendors would never try to sell individual copies of a given software."

And if there's enough space, I'd add: "The Free Software Industry is however a profitable field: For example, Red Hat (a major Free Software vendor) sells services around free software products and it's the top fatest-growing software company according to yearly revenue."

Cheers!

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Joined: 2007-09-10
>> All in all thanks very

>> All in all thanks very much for the comments...

I have my own set of criticisms, mostly that maybe it is not simple enough. The thing is that there are so many different types of people. What works with one group may have the opposite effect with another.

We might just not say anything too coherent, but just say something like: "This is good. It's for the simple life. Have fun." ..and everyone might flock to it Smiling

[..I think libervisco said something to this extent in the buzzword reply.]

The best shot I think we have at "wise words" is by engaging as many people as possible and having them express whatever views they want. It's a shotgun approach.

I have what I think is a very interesting project in mind that incorporates some elements that I think may really get a lot of people to become aware of Linux. It involves naked... j/k. Seriously, I have been wanting to start the project by myself to see what kind of reaction I get. Also there is a focus on creating multimedia works, so I wanted to build up skills and tools first. Also, I have actually thought at moments that the idea is so good that starting it pre-maturely might lead to sabatage attempts and pre-emptive strikes. But thinking about how the past few weeks have gone, I think I am just going to detail it out (what I can remember) before I completely forget since other project ideas have come to mind since then. And this won't be such a hot idea as I have thought at times, so I should not worry.

Switching back to the topic, I also agree with http://www.nuxified.org/topic/what_do_you_think_about_softwareliberty_com#comment-10701
except that I am not even sure that many would get that far in the questions they would ask.

Now don't misuderstand me. I like a lot of what you wrote, but I just don't think Apple would try and sell to Jack and Jill Users with the comments you put up. They are not too bad, but they can be dumbed down more. Who is your audience? The page may be great or not depending on that answer. [BTW, the simplicity (easy to use and it just works) and style (trendy and high-priced) are what sell the Ipod I think and not words on a webpage.. so Jack and Jill may not even be good target audiences for this because they won't bother to read.]

To Jack and Jill, the word "free" is a good word but it is not going ever to really mean anything but no-charge. The first sentence at the top of the webpage is already flying over some heads because of that.

Maybe something like this would reach more Jacks: My computer is Fun and Free; that's why I say vck Windows.... lol. [It' the FFF principle (originally I had "fair" but that is "lame").]

Can you define whom you are trying to reach (business people looking for simple solutions; moms looking for something for their kids; teens;..)?

Anyway, giving out free liveCDs that work (and with simple instructions) and putting in some hook to get the people to acutally try it is probably one of the few ways to get mass appeal without serious connections and a budget. [Now I could go on to describe a second project, but I'll stop.]

I think (going back to project mentioned originally) that you have to give people something in order for them to give you the time of day. Entertainment is one very useful vehicle.

Empowerment (good idea) can come from solving their problems. Here you have to have a good idea of what is the target audience because you need to have a problem to solve, clearly in focus. As far as entertainment, it may be empowering to know how to do something interesting. If you can get those "tools" for free, that would be empowering. If you can make money doing these things, that would be very empowering. Now what is entertaining and requires cool free tools that are easy to use? [project 1]

So these are things we can focus on addressing. When they have a toy they like that empowers them but which they might lose, they are much more likely to listen to the words of wisdom about the GPL or other licenses, yet we'll need to keep it simple then. Regardless, without them being stakeholders first, I don't see much hope of them listening.

Generally, I believe in getting them to do cool things on Linux no matter if through a back door. For example, if they see using a distro as a simple way to achieve something they like, we have gotten past a very difficult part and now they start to become stakeholders.

OK. Enough talk.

[Define the audience, and any website can play a role in the big picture. If you did define the audience, I apologize for not paying attention.]

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Hope you didn't find this

Hope you didn't find this reply too cynical.

ariadacapo's picture
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re: more comments
Jose wrote:

I have my own set of criticisms, mostly that maybe it is not simple enough. The thing is that there are so many different types of people. What works with one group may have the opposite effect with another.

We might just not say anything too coherent, but just say something like: "This is good. It's for the simple life. Have fun." ..and everyone might flock to it Smiling

I fully agree. We will never be able to build a website that attracts everyone.

Quote:

[...] I just don't think Apple would try and sell to Jack and Jill Users with the comments you put up. They are not too bad, but they can be dumbed down more. Who is your audience? The page may be great or not depending on that answer.

[..] the simplicity (easy to use and it just works) and style (trendy and high-priced) are what sell the Ipod I think and not words on a webpage

I cannot agree more here. You ask the right question: who is the audience and what is the message?
I intended this site to be a mere definition of "free software". It's not intended to convince a whole lot of people that they should switch to GNU/Linux or else. Merely to be reference to point to, when we need to include that term in a webpage. You can see it as a splash-screen for the FSF definition: a mere (simple) introduction.

So in that sense I don't think we should be trying to impress Jack and Jill. It's merely a reference for them to look up if they wonder what we mean with "free software".

Quote:

To Jack and Jill, the word "free" is a good word but it is not going ever to really mean anything but no-charge. The first sentence at the top of the webpage is already flying over some heads because of that.

Does it still do that with the new phrasing? If so we must adapt it again.

Quote:

Maybe something like this would reach more Jacks: My computer is Fun and Free; that's why I say vck Windows.... lol. [It' the FFF principle (originally I had "fair" but that is "lame").]

Ah but here it does not matter if we are not effective switching people to Linux. This is not the point, otherwise it would be whylinuxisbetter.net instead of softwareliberty.com. The point is to show the importance and relevance of FS; this is what GNU/Linux Matters stands for.

Quote:

Can you define whom you are trying to reach (business people looking for simple solutions; moms looking for something for their kids; teens;..)?

In this particular case, mostly anyone. (this is not true of all our websites). Again this is merely a one-page definition, it does not stand for anything else.

Thank you

Olivier.

ariadacapo's picture
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Sorry to be late replying.

Sorry to be late replying. I always have trouble finding the time to write in forums.
I'll edit my signature accordingly =)

ariadacapo's picture
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nearing release

I improved the site code and contents and I think it's getting ready for an official release now.

Gustavo installed a Tracker site to manage the website, and there is an SVN repository at svn.gnulinuxmatters.org/softwareliberty where you can view and edit the source files. The tracker site needs a logo and some presentation/documentation, this will be done and hopefully completed within 1 week.

The softwareliberty.com domain is owned by me, and the site is currently hosted on my personal account, I will migrate them to that of GNU/Linux Matters within 2 weeks.

Thank you,

Olivier.

ariadacapo's picture
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Gustavo wrote: Images are
Gustavo wrote:

Images are made to display graphics, not text. We're going to get unpleasant results if we keep it: The most important paragraph of the webpage would be incomplete, unless your web client displays graphics and you are able to read them. No matter what work-around we implement, alt attributes won't act as a part of a phrase.

I like option #1 very much. I think that's the way to go.
ariadacapo wrote:

So I think it's quite an acceptable compromise. The big advantage of the image is that it gives some kind of a "stylish edgy" look to the site.

Yes, but it would be still a major disrespect to web accessibility.

I see your point but on the other hand it's important to be recognized / identified easily, for that an image is very helpful. There's no way to reproduce the Google logo with HTML, for example.

Both the options I described were built in the site from the start. The screenshots I attach describe what happens if you view the site with CSS disabled and/or images blocked (3 possibilities). I hope this is convincing,

Olivier.

Gustavo's picture
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ariadacapo wrote: I see
ariadacapo wrote:

I see your point but on the other hand it's important to be recognized / identified easily, for that an image is very helpful. There's no way to reproduce the Google logo with HTML, for example.

Sure, but we're not going to render logos/graphics with text. We're talking about rendering text with graphics (which is discouraged in web accessibility).

Quote:

Both the options I described were built in the site from the start. The screenshots I attach describe what happens if you view the site with CSS disabled and/or images blocked (3 possibilities). I hope this is convincing,

It doesn't look that bad with CSS and/or images disabled. I've just realized that this code snipped is hidden when CSS is enabled, so it completes the paragraph when images can't be displayed: <h1>Software Liberty</h1>... and that's very good.