A bit of a technical rant here on the challenges of FLOSS. I may turn this into a longer form writing if people want.

* I need a "sign up for dates" newsletter

* Proprietary newsletter providers have have embedded trackers that make them less than ideal, but make it *very* easy to integrate, including all the tools to be GDPR compliant, work on static websites, etc.

* If I want to avoid using them, I need to now write my own web application



* There are FLOSS options, namely Mailtrain and Sendportal

* That now means running at least one more (possibly two more) services on my own

* Sendportal looks simpler, but it requires I write my own "widget" (not a huge deal but another service), and it doesn't have a docker image

* Mailtrain is more mature, but more complex to use

* If I'd chosen the proprietary option, I'd have been up and running days ago, but instead I'm spending time and a lot more money (to run services)

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Running FLOSS and not using trackers is very important to me, but I can't imagine someone who isn't very technical being able to get through all this.

I think we in the FLOSS world need to give folks who make other choices slack, because it's also not necessarily that they realize that a newsletter provider is possibly going to embed trackers. They may see it as a benefit (not realizing) or may not even know or have access to those trackers at all.

One last thought on this...

When I've talked about these sorts of issues, both in the past and now, many responses are "Why don't you run ____" or some other piece of advise of that nature.

This advise is almost always a bad answer. Firstly they rarely correctly identify the problem I'm actually trying to solve. Secondly, and more importantly, they fail to acknowledge the difficulty of being asked to do this much labor for Freedom.

It's a toxic behavior from our community, and we need to call it out.

@emacsen this is a great thread. ❤️

When my spouse and I met (2005) we were both grad students on very different timetables. I was a #FOSS zealot. And she was #vegan. We were joking that if our relationship could go anywhere we'd have to have a vegan and FOSS household.

Needless to say we were both totally OK with that!

People forget how high the cost can be to live outside mainstream. Even if it's easy for you, enormously many reasons may not be easy for next person.

@emacsen I agree. Often we’re trying to be helpful by proposing a solution, when instead we should be trying to understand the problem better.

I vividly recall how I once gave a FOSDEM talk about surveillance and the centralization of power; and the audience ended up arguing about how to build stronger encryption tools.

You don’t encrypt your way to a better society.


Just taking t he time to listen and ask questions is already a huge step forward.

Offering "solutions" without understanding the problem is a way to make people feel dismissed.

it often only serves to make the person speaking feel important, or feel "superior" rather than actually offer help.

@emacsen FLOSS is by and for people who prefer strong engagement with technology. Most humans on this planet are not like that. For other technology than computing, societies have solved this by institutions such as regulating bodies and consumer protection authorities/associations. That's what's missing for computing.

@emacsen What's also missing is services mediating between industry and consumers. The equivalent of craftspeople in the physical world. People who adapt software to your specific needs. Today's software ecosystems are mostly hostile to this.

@emacsen I suspect that the fragility of today's ecosystems is the biggest obstacle. You can't do software adaptation as a service if your adaptation needs to be fixed once a month.

@emacsen We definitely shouldn't blame people for making the choices they make when it comes to which software they use. Companies spend a lot of money making it extremely convenient and easy to use. A lot of FLOSS projects scratch a few people's itches and aren't necessarily very user friendly for people not familiar with it.

I think we can blame the companies for making the software, not the people for using it.

@emacsen I also think that running your own FLOSS alternatives is great and easy when it comes to desktop application. There really isn't much of a greater hurdle installing Inkscape over Illustrator, for example. But this isn't true at all for web applications. It's just not easy to install and maintain your own web application with underlying server and database and caching and whatever else it might need.

@emacsen I've been wondering if we just need (more) companies, or initiatives, that run these for people, make them easy to sign up to and use.

I understand it's not easy to make money off of free software, but it's not impossible. And providing people with easy to use services sounds like a good cause. I've been very curious if this could be sustainable, because we want people to use free software without tracking, and people just aren't going to set up their own servers most of the time.

@emacsen I use ListMonk for my mailing list. It works fairly well and there is an official docker container the devs release.

@emacsen I disagree. Besides that’s not what I said. I didn’t say “Why don’t you run x”. I just mentioned something I was running, as something you might want to look at; a recommendation. You don’t have to take it. You might decide, “eh, it doesn’t fit my use case” .. or you could even respond with that and then I’d learn something.

It’s not toxic behavior to suggest simply looking at a project and seeing if it might be useful to you.


When you (or others) jump to a conclusion of software before understanding the problem itself, you're adding labor to the person posting.

That's why it's problematic, and I say it's toxic because it's so endemic in this community and pushes people away.

@emacsen I literally looked up those apps and made a suggestion based on what the apps claimed to do and what I’ve found works for me. If you don’t want to hear any recommendations, don’t bother posting your thoughts online. Keep them in a private journal.

Nothing I did was toxic Mr GNU Snowflake.

@emacsen Thanks for speaking up about this. I 1000 % agree with you that this attitude is dragging us as a community. I'm passionate about FOSS, but I also understand that there are UX issues and that most people care about functionality and ease of use.

@emacsen We need F/LOSS, yes, but we need an ecosystem of folks that offer reliable *services* based on such F/LOSS that people can just pay or use. I am quite bullish on the power of #cooperatives to do this effectively.

@astrojuanlu @emacsen so true! In the data science space, the folks at 2i2c.org are setting a good example for this (they set up JupyterHubs, which is not trivial).

@leouieda @emacsen Indeed! I am in touch with Chris Holdgraf, they have a crisp vision 💪

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