We've seen many issues so far on the issue of neutrality between things such as:

  • the Open Source Initiative;
  • the Free Software Foundation;
  • Creative Commons and more;

Don't get me wrong, the issue has sparked many meta posts (each word's a separate link). Since Area 51, there has been issue with this.

I'm raising this meta post because this is an issue that we should resolve quickly, and properly. Our actions to neutralize can involve opening or shutting relations with external organizations, broaden or neutralize the scope of the site, changing names and promotion plans...etc.

I would like everyone to list out the issues that they have neutrality on this site, as well as possible solutions that you can have in mind. If you can't think of issues, or you can't think of solutions, don't worry! Raising what you can think of will help us. We don't need specific solutions as of this moment, just jot down ideas. Implementing them can come in other meta threads. If you start a meta thread related to this, please tag it with [neutrality].


3 Answers 3


In response to user114

As long as the site is a place where proponents of “free software” and proponents of “open source” keep insisting that their version is the right one and the others are not True Scotsmen, and as long as some people find it more important to give credit to the right guru while denigrating others, people who actually want to make, promote and use open source material will not participate. This will be a major problem.

These changes must be done now or the damage will be permanent. Sectarianism never helps any cause. Among people who get things done, opinions about nitpickers are rather bad.

The site is running on a closed source platform. To be sure, this will put some people off. But if the alternative is to have Debian wanting nothing to do with the FSF, the FSF wanting nothing to do with OSI, and OSI wanting nothing to do with Debian, I'll take a common platform that welcomes everyone any day.


We should be as inclusive to people as possible.

Surely, we can't do much about the software. Stackexchange is Stackexchange and if we didn't wanted the software, we should have raised the site on a different base than SE and that doesn't seem particular practical to me. I see no point in discussing that.

But there are many things we can influence. If we can make the title, the sites description, the scope more inclusive, the attitude in comments and meta-posts, then we should try. As an example, if some comments ooze a subtle hostility against Free Software Advocates we should stop, as this isn't creating an inclusive atmosphere.

We shouldn't keep a distance to a camp only because of real or imaginary hostility between the camps, but we should also make clear to the other camp that they are welcome as well.


As long as the site is not keeping equal distance from both the Free Software and the Open Source movement, even on trivial things like promotion, and as long as the site is not paying proper credit to both Free Software and Open Source in the name, people who follow the Free Software way for ethical and/or political reasons will not participate. This will be a major problem.

These changes must be done now or the damage will be permanent. Just join #fsf in Freenode and ask about this site and SO in general. Opinions about the whole SE network are rather bad there.

If the site wants to be about Open Source only and is happy to run on the proprietary SE platform (which in itself is unacceptable to serious Free Software people), then be it so. But then the bias will be permanent.

  • Thank you for the insight :) I'm curious now to talk to these Freenode people. Could you perhaps send me a link?
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:08
  • Join the IRC network of freenode.net and then the channel #fsf.
    – user114
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:10
  • Do you have any suggestions how we can run this site on different software?
    – Martijn
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:13
  • 1
    @Martijn No. But that is not the question. Somebody serious about Free Software will abdict from using a service it if can only be used with/as Non-Free Software. SE will never make their code Free Software and, as other, are so huge by now that any competitor will never be able to catch up. Just compare Twitter with Pump.io or Facebook with Diaspora. Even if there was a Free Software alternative to SE, people will not use it because they are lazy and want shiny SE badges.
    – user114
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:17
  • @Martijn We're trying to discuss neutrality issues here, keeping issues and suggestions relevant and concise to keep this post clean. :)
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:19
  • 1
    @Zizouz212 Your efforts are honourable. But I think they will fail. SE is the wrong place to build a neutral community for Free Software and Open Source because SE itself is not neutral. It has a heavy bias towards proprietary software and, in the scope of this site, Open Source over Free Software. People serious about (and experts for) Free Software know this very well. They will not participate.
    – user114
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:21
  • 1
    Stack Exchange is a hosting platform, they ideology of the community running a site allows them to be highly neutral in development. Do you have any contacts with people against this site? I would love to talk to them. If some do not make it their responsibility to allow this site to be neutral, and do not participate, than that would be their fault.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:23
  • join #fsf on the Freenode IRC network. Or just mail RMS :)
    – user114
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:24
  • I am constantly lurking on #fsf, and I am not sure if the usual people there are representative for the whole of the FSF community. You probably want to make sure to talk to FSF staff. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 18:13
  • Regardless, I can't even figure out how to get on or talk :/
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 18:20
  • Do you know how to use IRC in general? Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 18:52

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