open source > proprietary
based in jurisdiction that respects freedom and privacy > based in authoritarian country
empowering users > empowering corporations and governments
privacy > no or compromised privacy
powered by green energy > powered by coal
recycling > no recycling
paid by users > paid by targeted ads based on analysis of your behaviour
vegan > not vegan
In South Africa, I refuse to buy (vegan) margarine. It contains palm oil, whereas our own butter is locally farmed in the Eastern Cape. TLDR: I've been on said dairy farms and it's way better for me to buy that butter than the (vegan) alternatives that contain palm oil.
The second issue I have is that they seem to have a book advertisement section.
Apart from that, there seem to be useful links there.
Palm oil is a similar issue. It was supposed to be very environmentally friendly, but it's not if they're cutting down rain forests to grow it. Direct knowledge of where it comes from still beats having the right names and certifications; if that's all that matters, companies will cut corners to tap into that market.
Indeed a similar topic. Many people don't realise that "organic" is a marketing term. You cannot equate it with "ethical" or anything of the like from a terminology point of view. It (organic farming) has formal definitions in the countries where the products are sold and these are not always sensible or honest.
"All Natural" is a marketing term... "Organic" labeled foods are certified and (in the US) must meet specific requirements set by the USDA.
I would agree that the GMO component seems overblown, but this also includes controls that protect the environment (reduced pesticides, reduced antibiotic use, more specific dumping regulations) and keeping better audit trails.
You may be surprised by how many people think Organic == pesticide free, for example.
I think there are a few ways to do this e.g.:
1) multiple certifications as mentioned above;
2) brand recognition / brand responsibility (the analogy is myself with the South African butter); and an option that I have suggested which amounts to
3) an/multiple environmental quotient(s) that would score higher if you have a nature reserve on the farm, use less pesticides, use compost, etc.
But, unfortunately, unless you are remarkably well informed on all the suppliers, you simply can't always know. There is an app in France that tries to do this, but I am sure that also opens the door to corruption. In the next 10 years I expect to see more such apps.
I had the pleasure of being in an organic vegetable co-op in Oregon, it's such a great idea wish it was easier to access in California.
 - https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2015/earth-balance-switch...
Unfortunately one can also perhaps justifiably say:
eat insects > eating vegan > ...
And that makes it all the less romantic. Ideology to me has some merits, but I personally prefer to attempt to optimise at each point (including the meat production pointset).
EDIT: The Netherlands is setting some precedent towards this, especially for animals and improving their surrounds.
Creating and maintaining a web browser is not simple, Firefox is the freeest usable browser.
Brave deprives the website owner of income by blocking or replacing ads while at the same time pushing the website owner to sign up to Brave's rewards program, which Brave generates income from, instead of ads for funding.
Monetization models are even less clear. What if I'd prefer to not pay with cash?
If you find your own strawmen "petty" I suggest you try to think more clearly. It would likely improve the quality of your HN comments.
A good example of such a reversal elsewhere in this thread is the "local butter better than imported vegan margarine made from palm oil grown in clear-cut rainforests" argument.
Personally, I extend that argument further, mostly for health reasons, but I'm not vegan.
When I see articles that don’t interest me, I close the tab, don’t go post contrarian comments to the originating forum, and then get on with my day. This technique has worked well for me over the years, you might give it a shot.
The post is about a website declaring that some software is more “ethical” than others. They offer no real criterion as to what constitutes “ethical”. The burden of proof lies with the publishers and those that fully support the notion. “Go away” neither helps or positively affects others views.
But is that not clear? The ethics of the person who made that list. You may not agree with it, and that's fine, but it's still useful to people who do agree with these ethics, or even with just some of them.
I do agree it'd be better if they offered some explanation about the basis of their selection, which would make it easier for people to determine if they agree with it or not, and it would certainly form a better starting point to discuss these ethics and suggest improvements. That they didn't include that explanation is absolutely very valid criticism.
But ultimately, if you don't agree with it, then this selection is not going to be relevant for you, is it?
If someone proposes to me that murder isn't ethical, I can more-or-less get on board with that without a bunch of defining and qualifying. You're talking about software though. To suggest that Open Office is ethically superior to MS Office is not at all self-evident or the general consensus of most people.
It comes off as you being oblivious or close-minded to competing ideas of ethics, which doesn't lend credibility to your use of the term.
OP isn't trying to shame anyone for using other software or force companies to fix things; they're making a resource so you can find software that meets their particular criteria, even if their particular criteria is ill-defined. The point is to help people find software that they might not have heard of, not to form a definitive checklist.
Extrapolate this idea out -- if someone walks up to you and says, "hey, play Baba is You, it's really fun," it would be weird to respond, "Yeah, but what is your definition of fun? How can I trust you without one?"
Is the value of a Steam recommendation list the conversation around defining "fun" and how each game conforms with that definition? Or is it a way to quickly find good games you haven't heard of?
When you read an Amazon review, do you think, "well, this will give me some insight into the nature of quality in general?" Or do you think, "I wonder if Arnold35X subjectively liked this vacuum cleaner?"
Of course there's personal value in trying to narrow and understand your own definition of ethical -- you could read through a list like this and pick out the products you agree with, and then ask yourself, "why do I agree or disagree with them?" That would be great.
But OP themselves is under no obligation in this context to justify their decisions to anyone. Their opinion could be, "ethical software has to be written in Lisp." They're here to help you narrow down the software you know, and to find new software. That's it. Curation is not consensus.
This is the equivalent of showing up on an Open Source project and forcing the maintainer to justify their choice in testing libraries. The software is on the list because OP decided to put it there, and because OP is the one that made the list. In the context of this specific list, OP is God. If you think their definition is too broad or ill-defined, make another list with a more narrow one.
Ethics are necessarily a consensus-building endeavor. Your personal ethics only matter in-so-far as they intersect with others'. None of your examples are subject to that same constraint.
>Curation is not consensus.
Exactly, and that's why I object to it being labeled a list of "ethical alternatives" with no explanation of the decision making process. The list is the artifact and has next-to-no value compared to the process they went through to come up with the list.
>If you think their definition is too broad or ill-defined, make another list with a more narrow one.
Or provide constructive criticism that expresses why I think their list is lacking.
My specific concern is not that this list "isn't correct", it's that I believe the idea of slapping an "ethical" label on a product as a guide to users is antithetical to the goal of having users apply ethical considerations when deciding which software to use.
We agree that curation is not consensus, I'm taking that a step farther -- consensus is not necessary for curation. In fact, the entire point of a human curated list as opposed to an algorithmically curated list is that different humans curate differently from each other and have different perspectives.
If you feel like my previous examples were too trivial:
I don't believe that we've reached a consensus on the best way to teach -- and there might not even be a right answer. But I still like curated lists of books and courses.
I don't believe we've reached a consensus on what good and bad or biased reporting is, but I still like finding curated lists of reporters and newspapers.
I don't believe we've reached a consensus on what effective altruism looks like, but I still like reading charity rankings.
So my assertion is that curation is fundamentally a different kind of activity than you're claiming. There is a huge difference between slapping a label on something and making it a point of policy (ie, labeling news articles on Facebook) and having a list that says, "here's what meets my own personal standards, maybe it will meet yours."
If OP was claiming that any software not on this list was not ethical, I would agree with you 100%. If they were claiming theirs was the definitive list, I would agree with you 100%. But they're not. I think you're reading a claim here that doesn't exist.
I think I disagree. In my experience, people choose software based on what's easiest. I'm continually amazed by how little effort even professionals are willing to put in to their technology choices. In fact, I've never met a single human in real life (i.e. in-person) that considers ethics at all when selecting software. They choose things based on the path of least resistance, what other people are doing around them, what they can make work with the least effort, and what they think looks 'cool', and what they think will help them build skills for future job searches, but never ethics.
Because of this, when _anyone_ comes along and says "Hey, I made a list of ethical software alternatives!" my curiosity is instantly piqued. Ignoring whatever their definition of ethical is, the fact that they took the time to even make a list and publish it is enough for me to take the time and look through the list, giving me the chance to apply my own ethical considerations to each product in the list. Ultimately, when discussing ethics, I think I have to make my own decisions anyway.
Would it be reasonable to suggest that it'd be helpful if the creators of such a website went to slightly more effort to define the health benefits they were focused on and substantiate the claim that these foods were relatively healthy than someone creating a list of games they thought were fun on Steam? Would the value of the service lie in them doing that? I'd say yes
If someone is making an ethical declaration, it is very natural and normal to want to know their reasoning.
I think "murder" is an excellent example for making your main point. Because even that term would need further qualifications about euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, etc.
By saying "this is ethical, that is not", you are assuming a position that must be defended.
edit: I am contributing to the cause. Ethics is necessarily a conversation. By minimizing and handwaving away the part of ethical decision making that actually matters, you're doing more harm than good.
We don't need users to blindly use services somebody has slapped the "ethical" label on, we need to inspire users to bring ethics into their decision making process when choosing software services.
It's a great start! Lots of programs and services I wasn't aware existed. There are some services I'm familiar with that I don't think belong on the list (given my own interpretation of ethical as it relates to modern computing) and am happy to see that suggestions are welcomed via the community forums.
Surprised & delighted to see sections like Organizations, Magazines and Newsletters, Books and even Films - since most similar lists focus on applications instead of voices.
It's these extra sections that really highlight and bring together the larger community concerned with these issues and helps open my eyes to other issues that don't normally penetrate my bubble of news.
I can see most of these sections growing to include many more sites. The only immediate suggestion - short of separating the sections into their own pages - is a "detailed" list view to help make the information more manageable.
I'm interested in this topic and still only aware of about 15% of this list.
> What do we mean by ethical?
> We know that “ethical” isn’t an objective word — it can mean different things to different people.
> But for us, ethical means moving in the direction of least possible harm against other people, animals and the planet.
Something that benefits humans is usually not good for the planet or for animals :-) It basically means nothing and everything.
It's easy to think of good arguments for Twitter being ethical and unethical.
Yeah, I'm not sure I follow this at all. Is it just being open source or not (directly) run by a huge company?
I don't agree that all the tools on the list are ethical, but there are a few I plan to start using, because I do believe they are ethical and I didn't know about them before.
There's a huge amount you can learn from analytics.
You can both self-host or use their managed service. They are absolutely competitive with Google Analytics.
You are selling out the privacy of your users so you can save ten bucks on analytics.
(I'm blocking all of those, but requesting them could lead to additional requests.)
(I don't block the third-party for Cloudfront, where you seem to host Wordpress.)
(The third-party request purporting to be for privacy is arguably counterproductive.)
(I thought I saw a Google/Doubleclick one earlier this morning, but don't see it right now, and I could've be mistaken.)
Towards your goals of ethical, it might make sense to strip out all your third-parties (except Cloudfront, for now), and if you really have to add anything else, self-host it. Otherwise, you're leaking cross-site tracking&profiling information about your users, generally without their awareness, which I'm sure is not what you intend.
Good luck with your effort.
Countly - a little richer, e.g. geo view
Matomo - the most feature rich, closest to GA (haven't used)
To the page author, I for one appreciate the effort. No, your definition of “ethics” probably doesn’t fit mine. But having just skimmed it, I think it will give me something to chew on later. Like many, I’ll have my share of “but, but...”s, but it’s the thinking about it and not the curated list, that is important to me.
Before we proceed, recall that Facebook is now a "morally bankrupt liars" because it "enabled genocide", "facilitate foreign undermining of democratic institutions", "allow the live streaming of suicides, rape, and murders", and "host and publish the mosque attack video".
Let's compare this with one of the ethical browsers listed here -- Tor. Tor allowed Silk Road, which allowed dangerous drugs and fake IDs to be sold, and other sites that hosted child abuse and pornography content.
But privacy! Well, how about PeerTube? Interestingly, PeerTube "viewers don't have privacy" as it exposes the IPs of all viewers. Imagine if YouTube or Facebook does this.
So what gives?
This is a nice example of a not so common fallacy, the "fallacy fallacy": suppose that you have an argument a for the proposition p:
a -> p
It does not follow that:
~a -> ~p
Which is to say, showing some cherry-picked argument for Facebook being unethical to be invalid tells us nothing about Facebook being unethical or not.
Given that you crated a throwaway account one hour ago just to post this comment, I suspect that you are aware of what I am saying, but others may not be.
For those interested in a less cherry-picked source of claims against Facebook, there's even a Wikipedia page just for that (warning: it is quite long):
Anyway, the reason that I am giving this cherry-picked argument is not to arrive at a conclusion on whether or not Facebook is being ethical or not. (Spoiler: I don't know, see my other comment.)
I wanted to highlight that ethics is a very subjective business. I understand why some people might consider these projects ethical. However, to some people, they are considered very much unethical. The New Zealand government says that because Facebook allows X, Y, and Z, therefore, Facebook is unethical. Now, you might disagree with this statement, but (no offense) what you think does not matter here, because this (X, Y, Z -> unethical) is now the standard that some entity is using to decide if something is unethical. By the same standard, if another project/product (that is not Facebook), allows X, Y, and Z, too, then this project/product is considered unethical by this entity. And it is very much the case (or at least possibly the case) that the projects listed here satisfy X, Y, and Z, too.
So better not bother even thinking about ethics at all?
More on the topic of ethics here:
The truth is that ethics is hugely complex and nuanced. For example, what is your take on a super secure messaging app like Signal? Obviously, it is useful because it allows people to communicate privately (e.g., allows confidential sources to talk to journalists without being spied on). Now, what about the cliched scenario where it is being used by criminals to coordinate their bad deeds? Honestly, I don't know. I live in a democratic country whose government respects its citizen's privacy. As such, I am perfectly willing to give up a little bit of privacy (between myself and my government) if it means keeping the society safer. On the other hand, there are people (lots of em) who are not as fortunate as I am -- a wrong sneeze and you are dead.
Ethics is complicated. Even if we fully understand a product (or policy or project), it doesn't mean we fully understand its ethical impact. And even if we do understand its ethical impact, it is almost impossible for us to say if its entirety ethical or not. Because of these complexities, any attempt to consider ethics as a yes/no label (like this site, ethical.net) is almost certainly wrong. In fact, it trivializes this very important issue.
When I look at your list, I just see a sentence of ad copy about each product and an outbound link. Why not an essay about each product and the criteria you used when deciding that product was ethical and its competitors were not?
You don't get to proclaim something ethical and then move along. That's close-minded and ripe for abuse.
There's a lot of negative feedback in here (which I mostly agree with) but I found a few gems on this page, and I wanted to thank the author and contributors.
Most of the "ethics" here are pretty academic, and don't have a real impact on actual people. I'd love a version of this site that does the same thing for ethically produced goods (there are a number of sites like that out there, but none are this clean, and they tend to focus on specific niches (clothing, etc)).
I half expected to see my music player on the list, given it's popular, GPLv3 licensed and has no tracking, but I have no idea what the approval process is.
Or maybe it should be renamed to "Progressive alternatives to mainstream stuff."