#325 Fedora endorsing proprietary software
Closed: resolved 3 years ago by bcotton. Opened 3 years ago by johnmh.

Currently, the Fedora project is endorsing proprietary software, Discord specifically. While the main page (https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Fedora_Project_Wiki) lists it as being an external community, it's currently listed as an official account here https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Marketing_social_networks.

Unlike all of the other channels, Discord is the only one currently referenced which requires the use of proprietary software in order to run the client. This is directly opposed to the stated goals of the Fedora project, as well as the first of the Four Foundations. https://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/project/

Has this been approved by the Council? If not, can we get this removed from the official channels list, and list it as an external community instead? This would be more in line with the stated goals of the project.

If this has been approved by the Council, what is the justification for promoting proprietary software?


If you notice on the wiki page, it says "official accounts are designated official due to their connection to the Fedora Trademark." (Although Discord is not currently using an approved trademark as noted in #326). By that standard, it's following policy.

This speaks to a broader need for clarity around social media policies in general, but that's not something that's immediately forthcoming.

I'm a 0 on taking any action at this point. Once the specifics of the logo are fixed, it's meeting the requirements for "official accounts" as they stand.

Metadata Update from @bcotton:
- Issue priority set to: Coming Up (was: Needs Review)

3 years ago

For context, this ticket is the outcome of a 400+ message conversation/argument in #fedora-commops from 01:59 UTC to 03:47 UTC.

Discord is "verified"

It is worth mentioning the Fedora Linux Discord is registered as "official" or verified, in the same way a profile appears as "verified" on Twitter or other popular social media platforms. This presents (to me as a non-Red Hatter) as an endorsement or at least acknowledgement of the Fedora Project and subsequently Red Hat.

People will use what they use

It is worth considering that people will use the platforms that they can connect with people they enjoy socializing or talking to. Sometimes that is not always Free Software.

I believe the goal is to reach people where they already are. If you write off platforms like Discord and tell those people they are not part of Fedora, they will likely become resentful and angry that they cannot be a part of the wider Fedora Community.

It is worthwhile to note how "Fedora Community" is defined in the Fedora Project Contributor Agreement:

"Fedora Community" means (i) all Fedora participants, and (ii) all
persons receiving Contributions directly or indirectly from or through
Fedora.

By this definition, the people in the Fedora Linux Discord are a part of the Fedora Community.

Sometimes Freedom is about Free Software, but other times it can be about Freedom to decide what works best for you at a particular moment. We shouldn't shame others for their decisions in choosing tools that fit their needs (something we cannot understand exactly unless you are that person).

But I think what "Freedom" and "Friends" is about is that we encourage people to use Free Software when they can and when it makes sense for them personally. We can encourage Free Software without making people feel bad about using something else.

Rather, we should emphasize how cool the Free Software is, and even though it may be buggy or problematic at times, at least you have a fair chance of trying to make it better if you so choose. I am not reading all 400+ messages from last night. But I think we should think on the messaging of how we encourage and get more people on the side of Free Software.

Making people feel bad or guilty for using non-free software might get some people to change ways, but it will also make people resentful and upset.

Proposed action

I propose closing this ticket as no action needed and instead follow up on the concern that @bcotton raised in #326, which is tricky since Fedora Linux Discord appears as "official" or "verified" in vague terms.

Justin,

This ticket isn't about closing down the Discord, it doesn't try to change what people will use. Instead, it only seeks to remove what currently seems to be an endorsement by the Fedora project to use proprietary software.

Discord is proprietary software, there is no FLOSS client, so it cannot be included in Fedora, and isn't. This meets the definition for an "external community", something that is acknowledged as existing, but is not endorsed. This is similar to the handling of links to FedoraForum.

I'm not suggesting "[m]aking people feel bad or guilty", and I'm not asking anyone to stop using Discord, or for any change on Discord. Not endorsing a given program is far from scolding those who use it.

Discord can be accessed (in perfectly satisfying way) via their website. It's unfortunate that that website isn't open source, but neither are Facebook or Twitter, so I consider it basically all in the same boat.

I'm definitely open to some wording changes on the wiki page.

Half the time you open a website you load proprietary javascript. Any website, every day. Discord is no exception. It's a real time discussion platform with access primarily through a web browser, android/ios apps and a windows client. Linux client doesn't exactly function all that well and it is recommended to use flatpak - if anything it promotes the use of Silverblue quite nicely. There are a lot of clueless people who come, and leave a few days later being much more mindful of what they run how on their Fedora machine. To not mention that our Discord server helps potential contributors get started. I can no longer keep count of how many new contributors we brought to Fedora =)

We have some bridged channels (and are open to more) between freenode or matrix and discord, helping Fedora contributors better collaborate as well. For example I'm not always on an IRC capable device either and I do take advantage of accessing it via our Discord.

And as for the wiki pages, yes, it's flawed. But mainly because this isn't a "social media account" in the first place. It's a discussion platform - perhaps more structure wouldn't hurt to make some things clear ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

@mattdm Both Facebook and Twitter can be accessed using clients which are Free Software. At least in the case of Twitter, there are several of those clients packaged in Fedora.

Additionally, both of those are simply websites, at least last I checked, and not full-blown webapps.

Rhea,
Nobody is questioning how useful having a presence on Discord is, just as nobody is questioning how useful FedoraForum is. I hope that wasn't your takeaway from this ticket.

Additionally, both of those are simply websites, at least last I checked, and not full-blown webapps.

Twitter is a little more minimalist, but certainly with Facebook I don't see this as any useful sort of distinction. It's got chat, video, and a whole ton of proprietary Javascript.

I think our energy is best focused on doing what we can to promote open platforms. That's one reason we use Discourse, for example, and use Element/Matrix and Jitsi where we can.

I think it's ok to list the discord community in both sites in the way they are now: It's an "external" Fedora community, as the facebook and the twitter ones; and also it's a "official" account since fedora contirubutors (in the specifric case of Discord by @rhea) are admining it.

Regarding the "social media account" comment, we consider Discord a social media site as well as we do with Telegram and many people does with WhatsApp, even when they are "messaging, voice call, video call and chat platforms".

Can we please close this ticket? There's no point to this except to criticize people for using proprietary software.

Nobody is criticizing anyone for using proprietary software.

By opening this ticket, you are. Discord is proprietary, but it helps reach more people in the Fedora community. You've been told this countless times. The fact that you cannot comprehend it shows that you know nothing about community outreach.

Hi folks. It is probably a good idea to visit this in an upcoming Council meeting and coordinate on next steps. Now is a good time to revisit what we have published previously and figure out a way forward that doesn't feel like we are excluding anyone, whether you choose to use a proprietary chat client or not.

@bcotton, could you please add this ticket to the queue for the next meeting?

@jflory7 Honestly this kind of attitude that John has makes me want to leave the Fedora community. I did not join Fedora to be ridiculed because I prefer proprietary software compared to FOSS. Community is much more important than a software licence imo.

I suggest taking a cool-off on this ticket and wait until the next Fedora Council meeting when this ticket can be reviewed in a real-time, synchronous discussion.

The discussion in this ticket is long. The 400+ message conversation in #fedora-commops was long. Suffice to say, this is a topic people feel passionately about! It makes sense, given the strong appeal to the Freedom Foundation made in this ticket.

But no Foundation is more important than another. Friends, Features, First are also important. Sometimes our Friends prefer, require, or need Features that other platforms have provided First. Sometimes those platforms are not always Free Software. Sometimes they are! But either option is OK. At the same time, Freedom is still important to a lot of people.

So, the challenge, if we are willing to accept, is to figure out a way to support the Fedora Discord community without "slapping them on the wrist" or making them feel bad for using Discord to talk about and promote Fedora. #326 will likely carry that discussion.

@jflory7 That's exactly why I propose handling this in a similar way to FedoraForum, keep it listed as an "external community", instead of an official communication platform. I just want to make sure they can keep the vanity URL while being listed as external, so that nothing has to change on the Discord side (except the logo, for trademark compliance reasons).

The only outcome of removing that listing, or changing it in any way, is damage to our community:

  • One contributor-lead chat platform is not more "official" than another. Telegram is not fully open source either.
  • Fedora project supports these user oriented communities in but a single way - listing them somewhere - not even on the website like other projects do, but somewhere buried on a wiki page that is found only by very few eyes. That's to be frank, very poor support for the amount of work that goes into it. In fact vast majority of our members find us through direct search results because Discord provides invites to search engines via "Discovery" which is also a listing of Discord servers in-app. In fact ZERO people joined from the wiki page in the last 28 days according to our metrics (out of 255 total joins.) If anything I'd move it to the main page of getfedora.org. Example: https://godotengine.org/community
  • Less visibility means less contributors.

I think this ticket should be closed as "No action needed"

  • One contributor-lead chat platform is not more "official" than another. Telegram is not fully open source either.

+1

  • Fedora project supports these user oriented communities in but a single way - listing them somewhere - not even on the website like other projects do, but somewhere buried on a wiki page that is found only by very few eyes. That's to be frank, very poor support for the amount of work that goes into it. In fact vast majority of our members find us through direct search results because Discord provides invites to search engines via "Discovery" which is also a listing of Discord servers in-app. In fact ZERO people joined from the wiki page in the last 28 days according to our metrics (out of 255 total joins.) If anything I'd move it to the main page of getfedora.org. Example: https://godotengine.org/community

No major distro list any chat platform beyond IRC (I checked: Arch, Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, Suse and Open Suse), some software developer communities do that, but no distro.

  • Less visibility means less contributors.

+1

Maybe we can try an approach less invasive, maybe include a "Contact" page in getfedora, but for that we need a little opening in the idea "That site only provide links to download".

No major distro list any chat platform beyond IRC (I checked: Arch, Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, Suse and Open Suse), some software developer communities do that, but no distro.

Most Distros are not represented in any "official" capacity on Discord, they're but fan made. Further they all have much smaller presence on Discord than Fedora.

openSUSE is one of three that are Verified - and I quote, "we don't, because I still haven't finished the redesign of the main page"

Maybe we can try an approach less invasive, maybe include a "Contact" page in getfedora, but for that we need a little opening in the idea "That site only provide links to download".

We used to have a community page which listed local groups. Not sure what happened to that. Now I see reference to this wiki page on getfedora.org - which does not list Discord, while it lists just about everything else in existence. Can I change this ticket into "Discord is missing from the listing" instead of the current title? ;) ;) ;) (I'm actually serious in the joking way. If Telegram & Forums are there, Discord should follow.)


Another thing to consider:

We answer more lvl1 support questions on Discord every day than all other networks combined.

I don't know if we've got a Council ticket for it yet, but @mattdm and I had been talking about bringing more of a community focus back into the main brochure site as well as juggling things a bit to make what the community produces and supports more prominent. We should definitely include all the official channels of communication (including Discord!) in that redesign.

@ngompa It's important to consider that Discord is proprietary, listing this in such material would be entirely against Fedora's stated goals. I'm fine with updating the stated goals, so those who value freedom know they're not welcome, but that's a very important consideration here.

John freedom (of software) is not the only value Fedora has. Try to understand that. We can not be so single minded with so narrow view. Bigger picture matters.

As agreed in today's meeting, the Council believes in meeting our users where they are. A list of FLOSS clients will be added to the page in question to encourage their use where possible (#329) and this ticket will be marked resolved.

Metadata Update from @bcotton:
- Issue close_status updated to: resolved
- Issue status updated to: Closed (was: Open)

3 years ago

Apparently, third party clients are against Discord's ToS, yet another reason not to openly endorse this proprietary software.

@johnmh

1) Council is aware that the term "official" doesn't exactly fit and needs adjustments. There is a note on top of that page which tries to make the clarification on what "official" means, but it may still be confusing for many. There will be work done to clarify the terms we use for various community projects.

2) It seems that the page https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Marketing_social_networks generally is more like the internal documentation for the Marketing team rather than a user facing page. This is a registry of people owning the accounts, not an invitation for people to join them.
Since Discord community does have the account there is no reason to not list them on the page.

So let's work on a better user documentation instead.

3) One way to promote open source tools and channels is to make them more comfortable to use, than the proprietary ones (for example package tools for Fedora, provide how-to's and user guides, resolve UX issues, and so on), and educate people about the differences (explain clearly which tools are open source and which are closed). Hence the approach taken by #329 - educate about the state of tools, rather than hide the options. I will gladly accept the examples for existing FOSS social media clients available in Fedora there, and will add this info to the page.

And generally I think we are at the point where Open Source networks, and especially the Fediverse become appealing enough, that we don't need to hide the alternatives to promote them.

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