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[flagged] Eben Moglen is no longer a friend of the free software community (mjg59.dreamwidth.org)
29 points by JoshTriplett 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

It's a sad and bewildering affair.

My most innocent interpretation of the events is that Eben got seduced by "big picture" thinking: the thought takes hold that there are actions that are against ones principles, but will result in so much popularity and influence that it will be easy to undo the wrongs and still enjoy the fruits of the shortcut to success.

History has shown this hardly ever works out (Lindows, Red Hat, ESR, Ubuntu, etc) as intended.

It's probably too hard to transfer a fairly complex philosophy by attempting to temporarily raise its popularity.

Stallman calls this ruinous compromise:


> It's a sad and bewildering affair.

Yes. Eben's departure from free software ideology left "many heartbroken": Bruce Perens, ESR, Bradley Kuhn, MJG.

I dislike articles that allude to wrong doings, but when pushed for more details on rather harsh allegations, refuse to state it. I have no way to verify it happened, and I have to take someone’s possible lie as the one sided truth.

EDIT: I'm referring to: "Around the same time, Eben made legal threats towards another project with ties to FSF."

Links are provided. For example, the SFLC trying to invalidate SFC's trademark:


This is bizarre to say the least.

I think parent poster is referring to this paragraph in particular:

> Throughout this period, Eben disparaged FSF staff and other free software community members in various semi-public settings. In doing so he harmed the credibility of many people who have devoted significant portions of their lives to aiding the free software community. At Libreplanet earlier this year he made direct threats against an attendee - this was reported as a violation of the conference's anti-harassment policy.

The reason I think this is because when I opened the article there were zero comments here, and after reading the post, I clicked through back here to leave a comment much the same as the one you're responding to.

A couple remarks:

I'm aware who Matthew Garrett is, and I respect him and his contributions and his overall stance, in that way where when you see someone's name attached to something, it automatically kicks off good feelings.

Having said that, we need a term for something like this. (One probably exists.) Wikipedia popularized "weasel words", but this is something more specialized. Something like "proxy words", where rather than tell someone the things that happened, you give them this sort of non-specific, pre-digested proxy for people to derive their judgment from. It operates on almost the same principle as strawman arguments. It may be a good proxy, or it may not be, but for good reason you should always favor reserving your judgment for the real issue when presented with a proxy, rather than accepting the proxy itself.

That aside, Bruce Perens's comments in the following two LWN threads are relevant to the overall discussion:



> Having said that, we need a term for something like this.

I think it's a form if "appeal to authority," which is not always a logical fallacy. I think it fits even if said authority will not or cannot explain certain statements.

If say, a Bruce Schneier told me to avoid certain software or a certain processor, but didn't give any details, I would still heed his advice and defend that advice by appealing to his authority.

In this case, of course, it depends how much trust one would place in Matthew Garret as an authority on moral judgements concerning Free Software matters.

People with no authority at all can (and do) do this, too. I don't think it's an appeal to authority.

They fact that they have no authority doesn't stop it from being an appeal to authority, it just makes it less effective as an appeal.

I was referring to: "Around the same time, Eben made legal threats towards another project with ties to FSF."

Well, that's the exact reference: Eben has sent threats to terminate SFC's trademark. Those are the legal threats.

No, this refers to another (non-public) issue.

In the comments, the author says it wasn't disclosed, so he won't disclose it. So, I have to wonder that this is something else?

While there might be actually something to it, article lacks so much in detail it's hard to do anything else with it than dismiss it whole.

When trying to denounce a person, it's not OK to be glossing over the details to this extent.

Pretty much reads as "You can't trust Eben Moglen because I say so."

It is Matthew J Garrett's personal blog. He was a member of the EFF and has publicly been involved in the free software community.

Eben Moglen also has some very real credentials, I don't think that makes it reasonable to take someone's claims at face value. I, too, would like some more details on the issues. The interpretation of the GPL around ZFS is something I believe reasonable people may disagree upon. The claim that he has harassed and threatened people is much more serious, in my opinion, and deserving of some real evidence.


Both him and Eben are well known. Why should I listen to one over the other?

"You can't trust him. Trust me."

Eben recently had his one day conference the videos of which are here: https://softwarefreedom.org/events/2017/conference/video/

If you look at his closing remarks (the last video) he mentions that he mentions being less combative as a strategy to reach more people. I suspect this comes down to less being the same side than having different tactics.

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