(... achieve Debian world domination without endorsing Facebook)

Yes Raphael, we can.
Nobody said it would have been easy, to reach Total World Domination endorsing Free Software only, but that's not a reason to stop trying.

I've recently stumbled upon a very nice article by Benjamin Mako Hill, titled Free Software Needs Free Tools, which I believe it's the best possible commentary to the proposal of having an official Debian Facebook page.

Of course there is nothing wrong in having non-official, or let's call them "fan" pages, about Debian on Facebook. As a matter of fact we already have one, as you point out. And I also agree that it would be better to know who is behind that page. Individuals, including Debian Developers, are obviously free to use whatever media they please to spread the cause of Debian. After all, as individuals, each of us decide upon her own personal trade-offs (for instance, a trade-off of mine is to have both identi.ca and twitter accounts and to post only to the former with forwarding to the latter).

There is no way to have an official Debian Facebook page and pretend that we are not, de facto, endorsing Facebook. That's why I believe having official Debian presence on Facebook, or on any other non Free Software platform, will just weaken our cause. It will send out the message that Free Software it's something which is good for others to use, but not necessarily for Debian as a project.

That does not mean that we live under a rock and that we consider social networks useless to promote the Debian cause. It just mean that we should be picky in choosing social networks that respect our Free Software principles, as we are picky in choosing licenses that are DSFG-free. For instance, I'm glad to mention here that the Debian publicity team has recently obtained access to http://identi.ca/debian and will start using it soon. Subscribe! :-)

PS This post also gives me a chance to comment on a so called "community page" of mine on Facebook. As I've briefly commented a few days ago I've nothing to do with that page. TTBOMK its content is just automatically injected from Wikipedia. The "Stefano Zacchiroli is on Facebook" claim on the upper left is true only in the sense that there are other people with my name on Facebook. IANAL, but such a claim (not the page in itself) will probably be considered an abusive advertisement in many countries around the world.

update: re-word the identi.ca/debian paragraph, to better blend with surrounding text
update: mention "Debian" in heading

1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2010/may/14/facebook-not-your-friend

2) http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/14/facebook

Comment by GNUbie Thu 09 Sep 2010 07:14:40 PM CEST
But so, following your reasons, shouldn't we consider the debian repository non-free section an endorsement of propieatry sotware too? I understand your reasons, but, for the actual situation, I don't think that an extremistic-like way of action would provide some results... At least, not now...
Comment by Xaber Thu 09 Sep 2010 07:22:18 PM CEST

I completely share what Mako said but when I work as a debian-publicity team member, my goal is to spread the world to as many people as possible without annoying them (i.e. no spam). That's not time that I want to spend on working on a free alternative to Facebook and I'm glad that some people are already doing it (Joindiaspora that I mentioned, GNU social maybe too).

I'm not suggesting to promote Facebook on www.debian.org or whatever, I just want that Facebook users who are looking up Debian in Facebook find something more useful to them than an empty wall. It doesn't require to use the service on a regular basis, but just to setup the proper "RSS to Facebook" gateway.

But to get control of that Facebook page, the person who is going to contact Facebook needs to claim that he is more legitimate in representing the Debian project than the current person who owns it (to the best of our knowledge).

Comment by Raphaël Hertzog Thu 09 Sep 2010 08:47:55 PM CEST
Well summarized like it, GNU was created to counter such restrictions, not to work with them!!
Comment by tom Fri 10 Sep 2010 02:12:18 AM CEST

The only possible way to use Facebook for Debian would be a page that clearly describes why Debian does not plan to use it (proper reasoning in the media itself), absolute limited to that, potential suggesting alternatives. Setting up rss feed for it though is already using it and would be sending the wrong message, redirecting people to the already existing steams of information flow might be an acceptable compromise.

With all the people leaving Facebook again it would be a very strange move to join now and claim that we don't endorse it with actually using it.

Comment by Gerfried Fuchs Fri 10 Sep 2010 08:24:37 AM CEST

But so, following your reasons, shouldn't we consider the debian repository non-free section an endorsement of propieatry sotware too?

In a sense, you're saying that we should "discriminate" the non-free section. Yes, we should, and as a matter of fact we do already. non-free is not part of the Debian distribution and is already "discriminated" in several ways.

Comment by zack Fri 10 Sep 2010 09:14:41 AM CEST

I'm not suggesting to promote Facebook on www.debian.org or whatever, I just want that Facebook users who are looking up Debian in Facebook find something more useful to them than an empty wall. It doesn't require to use the service on a regular basis, but just to setup the proper "RSS to Facebook" gateway.

But to get control of that Facebook page, the person who is going to contact Facebook needs to claim that he is more legitimate in representing the Debian project than the current person who owns it (to the best of our knowledge).

My reading of your blog post (still) gives me the impression of a more ambitious goal than that and in particular of a goal where the subject of the action is "Debian".

You pointed out that a "Debian" Facebook page already exists. I fail to understand what stops you, or any other individual which both cares for Debian and is on Facebook, to improve that page. I for sure won't stop you, nor I would have any specific moral judgement to hold against you. You might raise the point that you're currently not in control of that page (AFAICT), but if the person who is cares about Debian, for sure he will welcome your help.

If the person is not willing to cooperate, too bad. That's a battle that can be fought by people that care about Debian on Facebook, but that cannot be fought by Debian as a project.

Comment by zack Fri 10 Sep 2010 09:27:54 AM CEST
Isn't providing the package mtools a way to endorse a proprietary file system?
Comment by matteo Mon 27 Sep 2010 10:25:10 AM CEST