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Show HN: Ethical Resources – 300 ethical alternatives to mainstream stuff (ethical.net)
291 points by mancuso5 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 129 comments



How is ethical defined here? I cannot see a definition and I don't see what is the common denominator between all those tools. For example why isn't Telegram considered ethical but Signal and Wire are? What is unethical about Word or Excel (given that OpenOffice is mentioned as an alternative), is it the ownership by Microsoft? Or the use of proprietary format in the past? What is more ethical about Steemit or Mastodon than Twitter? I would understand if the focus was on privacy and taking back some control/ownership, but that's not really something I would consider to be an ethical argument.


I assume it's a mix of:

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


I know it's a sensitive topic, but they are also doing:

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.


I feel similar about Organic (or "Biologisch", as it's called here). If I eat meat, I prefer it to be from an animal in a local field than meat that has all the right certifications but was shipped from the other side of the world (which happens).

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.


> Organic (or "Biologisch", as it's called here)

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.


This is wrong, in the US and abroad in many cases.

"All Natural" is a marketing term... "Organic" labeled foods are certified and (in the US) must meet specific requirements set by the USDA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_certification

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.


It's a certification, yes, but in practice it is arguably more effective from a marketing perspective than it is from a farming practices/audit perspective.

You may be surprised by how many people think Organic == pesticide free, for example.


So how do we know if vegetables were grown in toxic soils containing pesticides?


Good question.

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 plan on growing most of my vegetables when I'm settled down and/or joining an organic farm vegetable co-op where I can meet with the farmers and be reassured it's all grown in using safe methods and materials.

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.


Well, one dead swallow does not break a summer. Vegan > not vegan is still a good first-order approximation; if you want to be more precise, vegan+avoiding palm oil > vegan > not vegan.


Exactly. You add on top of that that many of the Vegan spreads are moving to "Sustainable Palm Oil"[1] and you are really just left with the unsustainable and unimaginably cruel Dairy Industry.

[1] - https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2015/earth-balance-switch...


I understand this sentiment, and the drive behind it to do good.

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.


Vegan is by definition more ethical than non vegan. And yes, palm oil is a controversial good. There are vegan butter alternatives that do not use palm oil (they are usually a couple dollars more expensive). But honestly, how badly do you need a butter substance in your diet?


interesting, one of the first apps is firefox...yet most of their funding comes from as this page would characterize as 'unethical sources' so wouldn't they then by guilty ?


So what you are saying Firefox is bad and instead it is better to use Chrome that is owned directly by a company they are trying to avoid?

Creating and maintaining a web browser is not simple, Firefox is the freeest usable browser.


i'm definitely not saying it's better to use chrome...where did i say that? What I'm saying is you can't label something ethical, if it gets all its money from what this site would label as 'unethical'. I don't know what the alternative browsers would be, dillo perhaps? I don't know they're the ones searching for 'ethical' alternatives. So what I'm saying is, I expected to see something different, not firefox.


Lie I said, it's probably a mix of things. If Firefox ends up offering better privacy and user empowerment than the alternatives, it's still the better option. I suppose Opera when it was still a paid product might also be in here, but that didn't survive.


Many would also consider the inclusion of Brave in the browser categories as dubious. Their business model comes very close to being a shakedown operation.


Can you expand on why Brave is "close to a shakedown operation"? My impression was that they were on the up-and-up. Plus, I'm all for just about effort being made to move away from the current ad economy. I'd rather pay for services directly.


I too support development of an alternative to the ad economy, but I don't support using the threat of income blocking to force a website to use a particular solution. This is in effect what Brave is doing.

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.


It is useful to compare ethicality among sets of alternatives; an absolute scale would be more of an abstract philosophical exercise. They are taking the practical, decision-informing approach and have put using the least-guilty browser near the top of their list.


But what if I don't want those things? I have never once personally edited the code in libreoffice. Open source isn't necessarily better than closed.

Monetization models are even less clear. What if I'd prefer to not pay with cash?


I have never once personally written for a newspaper. Freedom of the press isn't necessarily better than censorship.


That's a petty argument. Plenty of times open source projects lack resources, quality or maybe have a different focus than a non open source solution. You can't just assume open source is better than the other


I didn't assume any such thing nor does my comment even suggest it.

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.


it would probably help to assume an implied "all other things being equal" unless you have a specific unequality in mind that significantly reverses the balance of ethics in some common context.

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.


But what if I don't want those things?

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.


Then this page is not for you. If you think a lot of people would prefer your definition of ethical products over the one OP linked, then feel free to make a competing page.


How exactly does this kind of snark help change opinion? Open Source is wonderful. I’m not a developer, but I use it and contribute in ways that I can. These sorts of replies fill me with rage! Replies like this categorically do not help further the cause. The GP of the whole thread has a point; whose ethics?

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.


> whose ethics?

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?


Great points! Short answer: it's an imperfect mix of open source, privacy centered, indie projects vs proprietary, mainstream corporations, VC funded etc. Hope that you and others interested in this topic will get involved with criticism ans suggestions here on on our forum in order to improve the list, devise a clearer "checklist" for listings, submit more stuff, etc: https://community.ethical.net/t/suggestions-for-our-ethical-...


You shouldn't use the term "ethical" without very clearly defining your definition of ethical upfront.

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.


I really don't see the problem here. This is a single list, curated by one source. It doesn't need to be credible, it's not a standard.

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?"


The value in coming up with a list of ethical services is the conversation around defining ethical and how those services conform with that definition.


Again, extrapolate that out to other contexts.

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.


Every one of your comparisons is bunk.

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.


You're working from a position that perfect consensus is necessary for curatorial value.

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.


> 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.

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.


A more appropriate analogy might be if a team had created a "healthy foods" website listing some foods they liked and gone to the trouble of promoting it on places like HN and ProductHunt

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


You are missing a fundamental consideration. With ethics, there is a strong implication that others _should_ be acting in a certain away. This is not present in the same way with things like ones preference for fun activities or a choice of a testing library for a software project.

If someone is making an ethical declaration, it is very natural and normal to want to know their reasoning.


> 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.

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.


Murder is by definition unlawful. Homicide is the term that would include euthanasia, abortion, execution.


Unless those things are unlawful. In which case they would be murder in addition to homicide.


Thanks for taking time to contribute to the cause :)


Also, taking a snarky, passive-agressive tone to people making legitimate criticisms makes me not trust the list at all.

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 an imperfect mix ... others interested in this topic will get involved with criticism ans suggestions here on on our forum...

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.


Damn, nothing like scrolling that forum to remind you of one simple fact: _there can be no ethical consumption under capitalism_. Though I still love the list, haha.


While we should certainly take care about the definition of ethical here, this remains a great list of 'alternatives to mainstream stuff' that mainstream users should be made more aware of.

I'm interested in this topic and still only aware of about 15% of this list.


From their home page:

> 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.


This just moves the definition into the definition of "harm against other people, animals and the planet"


> 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.


The most basic ethical thing to do is simply being nice. Is that a popular thing on HN? :)


Is it nice to return to your neighbor his sword you borrowed when you know he is very angry with another person and wants to kill them?


Wait, you’ve borrowed the sword to peel off some gigantic potatoes right? That’s nice!


nah, I used it to untie the gordian knot oops... spoiler


That's a useless definition when it comes to software and software services.

It's easy to think of good arguments for Twitter being ethical and unethical.


Many projects like this one turned out to be paid by companies like DuckDuckGo and Brave to promote their products, look at their aggressive cheap way of advertising and you will understand


> How is ethical defined here?

Yeah, I'm not sure I follow this at all. Is it just being open source or not (directly) run by a huge company?


"too small to be evil"


"not yet evil"


Most of the services there (ddg, fastmail) are not even open-source at all.


How would you define "ethical" in a way that covers Word, Chrome, Twitter and Dropbox?


Creating tools that allow for rapid, powerful global conversation and collaboration by people of all technological skill levels.


It's funny how your comment answers all your own questions. You seem to be extracting the ethics of this list just fine.


> But for us, ethical means moving in the direction of least possible harm against other people, animals and the planet.


It would certainly be a more useful list to me if each choice was accompanied by a quick rundown of what factors make it the 'ethical' choice.


There are short descriptions below each service that explain just that.


Wage slavery and closed source code while companies invest in surveillance technology to work with an over-reaching government while also buying out US government to form an oligarchy is what isn't ethical about closed source products from large corporatioms.


If that's the criteria it should be included fairly prominently on the site -- so visitors can understand and choose whether or not to use and contribute to the site.


Not every tool on here fits everyone's ethics, but SOME tools fit SOME people's ethics. It's important to question what is ethical and what is not, but the question becomes moot if we never attempt to put the answer into action. Let's not hand-wring about "What is ethical?" so much that we never make any attempt to behave ethically.

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.


Thanks for sharing, we've got this a lot, so kinda got used to it as the default reply, especially in the tech community :)


`ethical.net` is running a few third-party trackers (which I can't find on its own list of purportedly ethical resources).


We are using a self hosted analytics service which do not track any personal data and respects DNT signal from browser. Other than that we don't use any tracking script/method.


Can you provide a justification for using any user-centric analytics at all past gross-request counts?


Using which page led you to another can tell you a lot about how well the UI works.


Also, knowing the percentage of mobile to desktop, and how long pages are open can tell you about interest and if a particular choice affects one more than the other.

There's a huge amount you can learn from analytics.


I absolutely agree.


Because there's a barrier to entry with some of these "less ethical" tools, especially analytics, hard to compete with free or having to self host. We can/need to do better?


Matomo (formerly Piwik) is an Analytics solution under the GNU GPL.

Website: https://matomo.org/

GitHub: https://github.com/matomo-org/matomo

Demo: https://demo.matomo.org/

You can both self-host or use their managed service. They are absolutely competitive with Google Analytics.


Google Analytics is not free.

You are selling out the privacy of your users so you can save ten bucks on analytics.


hey there, can you share with the entire list you're thinking of? we've switched from google analytics to self hosted matomo last week, and planning to switch again to fathom for example. thanks!


Looking right now: api.producthunt.com, cdn.iubenda.com, analytics.mostash.com, instant.page

(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.


Hey, what other self hosted analytics made your shortlist? I am looking for a self hosted solution for my sites and wondering what to pick.


Fathom - very simple, very pretty, great all in all

Countly - a little richer, e.g. geo view

Matomo - the most feature rich, closest to GA (haven't used)


JFC, I skimmed top comments for something that wasn’t “but, but...”, and as of this writing all I got it is either that, or the page won’t load with an ad blocker.

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.


I am not sure how ethics is defined here. In fact, I can totally see how some of these options can be considered unethical.

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?


> 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".

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):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Facebook


Oh yes, I am quite aware of this fallacy. It is known as the inverse fallacy (~a -> ~p is the inverse of a -> p). Thanks for bringing this up.

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.


Hey, thanks for stopping by.

So better not bother even thinking about ethics at all?

More on the topic of ethics here: https://ethical.net/ethical/future-ethics-with-cennydd-bowle... https://ethical.net/ethical/ethics-should-not-be-a-luxury/


Definitely not. Precisely because I care about ethics that I bring these up. The reason is that I think we as a society (well, at least a subset of the tech community) romanticizes free (beer and speech), open-source, decentralized, and non-profit projects so much that we automatically equate them as being ethical. (Exhibit A: this website, ethical.net.)

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.


Is this a list of ethical software, carefully curated and thought about, or is this a list of non-main-stream software with the implicit assumption that contrarianism is implicitly ethical?

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?


No, be upfront with your definition, engage in discussion, and don't patronize criticisms.

You don't get to proclaim something ethical and then move along. That's close-minded and ripe for abuse.


Thank you!

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.


Ethical seems to be a very fuzzy expression here without any meaning whatsoever. Even most of the claims made next to the service are not supportable in any practical way (for online services owned by third parties).


See also: https://prism-break.org, but there are no "organizations" there.


mastodon on list, twitter in footer


As others have mentioned here, there's a strong barrier to entry for most of things, including Mastodon :) We're still figuring things out, and that's totally OK: https://news.ycombinator.com/showhn.html


This is really cool. I (and I think some others around here) would like to move away from Google, etc, but sometimes it's hard to find other options. It's great having a semi-comprehensive list in one place! I'll definitely be looking into some of these.


Feel free to share your journey on dm or on the forum https://community.ethical.net


Some of these services claim no adds, chronological timeline, etc., but that was Facebook and Twitter in the early days too. How do we know these services will remain add free?


"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty". One part of a company being ethical is them letting you pick up and move out in the event that they do start showing negative behavior.


*Ad free, and you don't; that's why thanks to EU legislation and GDPR protections, you as a consumer have the option to always request them to send you all your data, and to have your account removed when you no longer want to make use of their services. They are also required (I believe?) to inform you of any changes in the terms and conditions, privacy policy, etc that you have agreed to.

So there is a lot of legal protection you are entitled to, however you have to do your own due diligence - read the privacy policy, read its updates, double check the data extraction once in a while.


The answer is pretty simple: we must pay for those services.


When it comes to ethics, I care way more about stuff like "not exploiting workers or the environment".

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'm surprised to not see keybase.io on here. Any ethical issues with their service I'm unaware of?


Blank page with ad-block plus.


On it. I am on Chrome with ABP and I don't get this issue. Which browser are you using?


Hmm, Chrome doesn't appear to be on the list of ethically approved browsers :P


Hey, I can replicate it in Firefox with Adblock Plus extension. Looks like there is a bug in the extension as we do not serve ads and the page is working well in Chrome with both Adblock and Adblock Plus extensions enabled.


Some categories show a blank page, selecting the category all works fine though.


Update: Adblock Plus was hiding body element as it had "headersocial" class. I have fixed the issue and the site is accessible with Adblock Plus on Firefox now.


PLNKTN is a good carbon footprint calculator app. Great design (https://plnktn.life/).


I was skeptical but there's actually a few things in there I might try. I'm very motivated to move away from Gmail, for example.


Thanks for sharing! I've been personally trying to move away from everything google and it's SO difficult. Gmail and Maps are the last things I'm using, but I am still hopeful. I feel it's more of an addiction than anything else really.


Wasn't there a YC company where you could buy CO2 neutralization for your website? Anybody remember the name? Is it still around?


hmm not sure which one you refer to but there are quite a few carbon offsetting projects like https://www.myclimate.org/


Thanks - it was something specifically for web hosting, iirc. You could then add a little "CO2 neutral" banner to your web site.


Blank page with uBlock Origin.


It should be working now.


Runbox.com is missing from the email services


bbc iplayer shouldn't be there. Great site though.


Its missing runbox from email services


This resembles orthodox rabbis discussing what is considered kosher.

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.


What music player?


You and whose ethics?


I think one reason so many people in these comments are having issues with the definition of "ethical" is the partial realization that there isn't a way to ethically consume things, especially when capitalism is involved. You can use Firefox, but that still supports Google. You can recycle, but an ocean freighter burning bunker oil pukes out enough pollution in one voyage to invalidate your entire life's effort. You can make better or worse choices, but we live in a fundamentally unethical global economic system.


I don't like this idea, just like I don't like the idea of ESG ETFs and whatnot. It presupposes what is ethical and what is not, despite the obvious personal nature of the problem. The 300 "ethical" alternatives are just things the OP thinks are ethical and it seems unlikely to me that such a personal list of stuff is applicable to really anyone else besides himself. Or maybe it is, but just not to me.

Or maybe it should be renamed to "Progressive alternatives to mainstream stuff."


Yeah it would be more apt to say the list is "open source, environmentally conscious software".




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