Tim Post (Director of Stack Overflow Communities) has visited this site before to help us with the issue of choosing a site name. He and the other staff had ruled out the 'Free & Open' name, but I do not think their explanations are sufficient for us to choose another name. This post is a request for someone in the SE staff team to give us a more detailed explanation and criteria. Without knowing exactly what makes a name acceptable we may be just wasting our time thinking of new suggestions. (I would hate for us to present "Free/Libre/Open" to the SE staff just for them to say that it too is inadequate.)
First, here are some of his comments and posts here:
To that, I'm all for putting 'Libre' or 'Free' in the site's title and description. Libre & Open Source has a kind of nice ring to it, and we maintain indexing for what folks actually search for. It's a small change that goes a long way toward saying you're not unwelcome. I'm open to suggestions about the wording. 1
I liked this [Free & Open], actually I still do, but the ambiguity that forms a link between free and gratis still kinda remains no matter how I twist it around. I keep coming back to Libre in the place of free. Libre, Free & Open? Libre & Open? I don't think a perfect construction of words exists that sufficiently frames 'free' while serving as a laconic title. 2
I generally agree with how Gilles supports his argument [that for any title, you can find nonsensical interpretations with sufficient bad faith], and it's the same argument I made quite strongly when we met to discuss it. As I saw people that were very familiar with the topic and free / open source communities and movement in general totally fail to get it, I became pretty hesitant even though I really felt strongly that this would make precisely the kind of impact we want on the people we want to attract. If it was just one or two people that didn't really get it, I would have pushed more, but it took way too much explaining to practically everyone involved. 3
However, one of the biggest concerns was still ambiguity. While it is clear to the general community that is active on the site about what the name would mean, there was concerns as to what the name would actually mean when shared with the general public. In a conversation with the SE team, the issue was well, Free & Open what? In that sense, I understand the reaction. Face it: To someone who hears of the name without knowing what the site is about, and without having heard any context, it's difficult to come to correct conclusions. When tested on certain members, some of those who were also "Free & Open" developers, it didn't ring a bell, as to what it could possibly mean.
I think it would really help to know how the staff tested the name. I don't doubt that some people 'totally failed to get it', but how were they shown the name? Were they shown it in site mock-ups? Or were they shown it in isolation? Because if so, that is a very abnormal situation. The only places where names are shown in isolation is in the footer (and ours is not there) or in the list of 'your communities' in the drop down (where it will only show to people who already know what the site is about.) Here on the SE network a site name is almost always shown with either:
- the site description
- or a question from the site
Either of these will disambiguate the name, and if you see either of those then I don't think you'l need to have the site name further explained. So I don't think any name will practically have ambiguity problems, but if the SE staff disagree then it would really help if they gave us crystal clear rules about what names will be allowed.
I think it is actually better to have a little ambiguity than to try to remove it all. The process of trying to come up with something to disambiguate a simple name like 'Free & Open' or 'Free, Libre & Open' is that whatever we add to them implicitly gives a wrong message about the site.
- Adding 'Source' suggests that non-software is second class.
- Adding 'Works' suggests that any questions about FLO licensed things are allowed, even questions about how to use OS software.
- Adding 'Principles' suggests that only we're interested in the topic at a theoretical level (the licensing counterpart of Theoretical Computer Science) whereas we want lots of practical questions
I haven't seen any strong arguments against basic descriptive names like 'Free & Open' or 'Free, Libre & Open' as long as they are used in context, so I would like the SE staff to confirm if names like that would be allowed. (A non-descriptive evocative name would also be okay too.)