Censorship == They Won't Work For Me For Free!

Sorry, but as a software guy, I just couldn’t resist mocking the sheer insane
hypocrisy of this.

There’s a right-wing political site out there, called RedState.com. RedState
is serious far-right – constantly bemoaning the nanny-state, the culture of entitlement,
the virtues of personal responsibility, and so on. According to RedState, Social Security
is bad – people should save for their own retirements, not rely on the government to take care of them. Socialized medicine must be avoided at all costs: people should pay for their
own medical insurance, not expect the state to do it for them. And so on.

So, RedState initially set up their state on Scoop. If you don’t know, Scoop is
some software brewed up for a geek-news and discussion site called Kuro5shin. Scoop
is a free software, implemented in Perl, and distributed under that manifesto of
right-wing entepreneurship, the GNU Public License. (For those not in the know, I’m
being sarcastic here. While it’s generally silly to try to attribute political attributes to software licenses, I think it would be reasonable to say that if you characterized open-source licenses in terms of the political spectrum, the GPL would be solidly in the socialist area.)

After running for a while, Scoop wasn’t up to the load. So they switched to
another free package, called Drupal. Drupal is, like Scoop, free, and distributed under the GPL. But Drupal didn’t have as many features as Scoop, which frustrated
the RedState guys. So what does a good, responsible, self-sufficient, entrepreneurial
organization like RedState do when the free software that they’re using isn’t up to the job
that they want it to do?

Naturally: They whine about how no one will fix it for them for free, and how
the unwillingness of people to do free work for them is just a totally unfair
attempt by those nasty rotten liberals to censor them:

The bad news: our liberal “friends” – you know, the ones who believe so strongly in free speech and open debate – have done what they can to prevent us from making these improvements, so that our influence will be minimized just as we head into the 2008 presidential primary season.

No, our Blue State buddies haven’t succeeded in stopping us from improving our website. But they’ve made it more difficult and more expensive – which is why I’m coming to you for help.

Let me explain …

You see, when we started RedState in May of 2004, we used a website program called Scoop — the same program a lot of similar sites on the left used. But, as the number of visitors to our site grew, Scoop kept crashing on us.

If we’d been a liberal website, we would have been able to fix the problem quickly and relatively cheaply. The online left loves Scoop. Unfortunately, there weren’t really any conservative Scoop developers out there to help us. We kept crashing and were out of money. We had to close down or take drastic action.

Well, we didn’t close down. We ditched Scoop and moved to the best alternative at the time, a program called Drupal. But, in accomplishing the switch, budget constraints forced us to sacrifice some popular site features in order to alleviate the strain on our overused servers.

Needless to say, we always regarded those “downgrades” as temporary, and we hoped to restore the eliminated features – and to add new and even better ones – as soon as we could afford to.

Unfortunately, we still can’t afford to. But we’re convinced that America can afford even less to have us operating at anything less than our absolute peak potential during the coming presidential election season.

So we’ve decided to move ahead with our upgrades without delay, and despite not having the cash on hand – hoping and praying that RedState.com readers like you will help us make up the shortfall with a generous donation.

Yeah, that’s real conservatism for ya! Get stuff for free; whine about how it doesn’t work well enough; whine about how when people won’t do work for you free, they’re trying to censor you. To make matters worse, Redstate is a business. Like many of the political blog-sites, they run ads to support the site, and pay themselves out of what’s left after expenses. But they don’t want to actually pay for the infrastructure needed by their business; no, that would be completely unfair and unacceptable! Nice conservative fellows
actually paying lowly peons to do work for them? Clearly not an acceptable conservative option!

But that’s not all.

The text above is from the original version of their plea for money. After people starting making fun of them, they went back and edited the post.
If you go to their site now, you’ll see this, which silently replaced the original, getting rid of the accusations of censorship. They don’t even have the courage of their convictions to be honest, and stand by what they said. No,
it gets edited without comment, and then they deny what was originally there.

But that’s not all.

It turns out that Daily Kos, which runs on the same Scoop software that they originally
dumped, offered to share changes with them.. If their tech guy would help work on patches and fixes
for Scoop, DK would give them all of the improvements and upgrades that had been
made to make DK survive its mind-boggling daily load. But RedState refused; they didn’t want to cooperate with those filthy liberals. But then, when the dirty liberals
don’t just give them whatever they want, and help them set it up and make it work, for free, well, it’s just dirty fucking hippies trying to censor them!

Look, I’m a software guy. I design and write code for a living. It’s hard work. Writing software that can reliably keep running day in, day out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter how many thousands of people are pounding away on it – it’s a lot of work. It requires a lot of knowledge, a lot of skill, a lot of time, and a lot of effort. No one is
entitled to having someone come work for them without being paid for their time. It doesn’t matter what part of the political spectrum you come from: getting software to support
a high volume web-site isn’t something that you should expect to get for free. If you can inspire volunteers to work for you, that’s great. If they’re willing to do it, it’s their work, and they can do whatever they want with it. If they want to spend their evenings figuring out how to keep the site from crashing when hordes of political geeks come rushing in to get the results of the latest primary – more power to ’em. But if they don’t want to volunteer
for you – that’s their right and privilege to. They can do whatever they want with their time. Just because your political opponents have been able to inspire people to work for free doesn’t mean that you’re also entitled to free labor.

0 thoughts on “Censorship == They Won't Work For Me For Free!

  1. Kristine

    I hope those jokers built their own computers – out of stone knives and bear skins (sorry, Spock!).
    And blogged only in HTML and Java – or something equivalent that they invented.
    After designing their own OS. Yes, hard work, Mark, hard, hard work. They should be able to stand in a wilderness and simultaneously shout their truth from a mountaintop with dreamful ease! Nature is censoring them! Reality is oppressive!

  2. Hank

    So they are basically combining an inflated sense of entitlement with a grade A persecution complex. How attractive to potential volunteers.

  3. Rob Knop

    if you characterized open-source licenses in terms of the political spectrum, the GPL would be solidly in the socialist area.
    I’d go with your previous clause on this one… I wouldn’t have thought this was socialist, but the ultimate in libertarian. “You have freedoms, and nobody can take them away!”
    All in the eyes of the beholder.

  4. Samuel A. Falvo II

    Patently agreed; GPL is libertarian, not socialist. A socialist license would look somewhat like the GPL, but with the additional clause that you’re entitled to regular, free upgrades as others contribute changes, and they’re propegated automatically. Kind of like Firefox’s “new updates” dialog box, but *enforced* in the license, rather than just a nice feature to have. It also would require any contributions you push into the repository to be peer reviewed by other users (including those with no coding experience) to determine their impacts on others currently using the program, to ensure your changes are for the “greater good.”
    I’m all for the greater common good. But the greater commons has to want it. I’m not in favor of enforcing it on them.

  5. jefff

    Libertarianism is all about property rights being the only important thing. GPL is all about negating property rights. Nobody can own this, it says.
    Anarchist maybe?

  6. Tony P

    If they really want a good CMF/CMS Zope/Plone are great. However they can’t handle really large web loads but proxying them via Apache works fine.

  7. John McKay

    …so that our influence will be minimized just as we head into the 2008 presidential primary season.
    That’s some impressive and unusually good planning on the part of the international dirty-hippie conspiracy. We forced them to adopt that free software in 2004 knowing that it would become an unworkable burden just in time to minimize Redstate’s influence “just as we head into the 2008 presidential primary season.” Our conspiracies never work that well. High fives all around!

  8. Jolly Bloger

    Ok, that is rather silly, and pretty much par for the course with hardcore republicans, but if I may play devil’s advocate for a moment, it’s not exactly hypocrisy.
    They were asking for free help. Whining when they didn’t get it is juvenile, but a far cry from taking what they want by force. Social Security does not mean asking others to pay for your retirement, it means taking money from other people without their consent.

  9. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    I really don’t want this to turn into a licensing flame war, so I’ll just explain where I was coming from.
    If you look at the GPL from the perspective of the original creator of a piece of software, in light of GNUs goal to have all software be free (in the GPL sense), then it seems like the owners’ property rights to the software are negated by the GPL. GPL basically says that the code is the property of the community, not of any individual. So if, as an author, I write a piece of GPL software and distribute it, it’s not really mine any more: it belongs to the community. I see that as a socialistic ideal: creative work belongs to whoever can use it creatively for the community, without regard for whether they can pay for the privilege.
    In contrast, from the point of view of the community, it feels more libertarian. As a community member, you can pick any software you want, and you can do anything you want with it. Change it however you want, rewrite it, use it as is, pick a variant written by someone else – it’s a free market of ideas within the community, where you can’t say “You can only use my version if I let you.”
    I also had in mind something from the GNU manifesto, where Stallman is talking about how programmers get paid. In a GPL scenario, programmers arguable wouldn’t get paid for programming the way they do today. One of the solutions that Stallman suggests for making a GPL software ecosystem work for programmers includes a “software tax” – all computer users would be required to pay into a software development pool, and developers would be paid out of that pool. *That* is clearly socialist, but it’s not a necessary implication of GPL – just one possible (and thoroughly awful) possibility.

  10. Ilari Sani

    jefff, the GPL is not at all anti-property. The copyright of the software remains with those who wrote it. It is simply licensed for others to use, just like commercial software is licensed.
    It is this copyright that allows the license to be enforced. If the terms are violated, the license and the rights it grants no longer apply, and the use becomes copyright infringement. The copyright owner then has the option to sue, which has occasionally happened.

  11. Flaky

    Jolly wrote:‘Social Security does not mean asking others to pay for your retirement, it means taking money from other people without their consent.’
    Are you seriously suggesting that the collection of taxes for payment of social security is akin to stealing money from people? You might as well claim that state sponsored firefighters and police forces are a kind of a protection racket.
    To comment on the main post: I’m rather puzzled by the views of these so-called conservatives in USA. It appears that increasingly the political divide in USA is not between differing political ideologies, but rather reason vs. insanity, evidenced by an abundance of anecdotes such as the above. Of note, it is quite absurd how the Democratic party is considered leftist, when by European standards it’s a middle-right party.

  12. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    *I* am not opposed to social security, and find the right-wing opposition to things like social security totally incomprehensible. I was just trying to explain what the RedState guys normally advocate. When it comes to almost anything else, they make arguments about how everyone should be self-responsible, that everyone should pay their own way. The only exception to that is when *they* want something that they don’t want to pay for.
    Personally, I’m very much a member of the liberal left. I dislike the Democratic party in the US because I find them far too conservative. You won’t catch me criticizing the idea of social security; I think it’s not just a good thing, but an absolute moral imperative. I have some complaints with how it’s currently implemented, but that’s a different
    discussion. (My biggest complaint is, scary as it might sound, I don’t pay enough social security taxes. The US scheme has us pay a percentage of our salary up to a maximum yearly contribution. I don’t see why I, as someone with a very large income, should end up paying a *lower* percentage of my income for SS taxes than someone working a subsistence job at WalMart.)

  13. llewelly

    Rob Knop:

    I’d go with your previous clause on this one… I wouldn’t have thought this was socialist, but the ultimate in libertarian. “You have freedoms, and nobody can take them away!”

    Interestingly, many vocal libertarians of the software geek set (e.g., ESR) dislike the GPL. The GPL, you see, is a compromise … it takes some freedoms away from you, in order to prevent you from taking freedoms from those you distribute the software too.

  14. Flaky

    I didn’t mean to suggest that objection to social security is necessarily unreasonable, although I’d argue that it is often motivated by selfishness. Rather, the ‘conservative’ USA seems to be riddled with contradictions and often completely crazy ideas. Thus the behaviour of RedState appears to be the norm, rather than an exception. Of course this could be an illusion produced by the two party political system. Still, I think that the world, including USA, would be better off, if any one of the Democratic candidates win the coming elections.

  15. Flaky

    A bit of misreading on my part resulted in my previous post being slightly incomprehensible. I hope I haven’t offended anyones aesthetic sensibilities. Would signing up for the TypeKey identity allow editing/removal of posts?

  16. Larry D'Anna

    Mark, releasing software under the GPL is no more socialist than donating money or effort to a charity. You are confused.

  17. tinyfrog

    I guess I don’t quite get why someone would say the GPL is anything close to libertarianism. Libertarians would make you pay for everything. The GPL seems pretty socialist to me since it’s releasing stuff into the community collective. (And I mean “socialist” in the “helping the community” sort of way, not in the “government forces you to do it” sort of way. Which contrasts with the libertarian/Randian “individualism/greed is good” sort of way.)
    Mark, releasing software under the GPL is no more socialist than donating money or effort to a charity. You are confused.
    Well, those things are socialist – but not in the “government forces you to do it” version of socialism.

  18. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    I do understand how the GPL works. I’ve put some serious time into a variety of open-source projects, under GPL, CPL, EPL, and Apache licenses, and I understand them as well as a non-lawyer can. I explained what I meant, and since I don’t want this to turn into a license war, I’m not going to comment further.

  19. Coin

    …ai. So:
    You can’t really define the GPL as ‘libertarian’ or ‘socialist’ in any meaningful way. There are a couple of reasons I would say this:
    The first issue is with intellectual property itself. Libertarianism as we commonly think of it is invariably at some level based around a dichotomy between government on the one hand, and property rights on the other. Exactly how central or explicit this dichotomy is will vary between individual libertarians, but I don’t think you can remove this dichotomy, not entirely, not without transforming libertarianism into something that in any other context we wouldn’t recognize. The problem, though, is that intellectual property shatters that dichotomy. Intellectual property is a form of property invented by the state; a thing which wouldn’t be property if the government hadn’t stepped in to intervene. Using intellectual property is simultaneously exercising a property right and wielding state power. Libertarianism in this context becomes nonsensical. It doesn’t become wrong; it’s just that we lack the rhetorical tools to talk about it in any way that makes sense.
    Now, given, you can I’m sure formulate libertarianism in a way that makes sense wrt intellectual property, if you think out carefully what you mean by both of those things. But we haven’t done so in this particular discussion, so every single person in this thread is going to be working off slightly different conceptions of property rights, libertarianism, “socialism”, etc. It’s not going to be possible to discuss this without everyone talking past each other, lobbing straw men where “socialism” means the government always does the most intrusive thing possible just to be evil, etc.
    Exacerbating this tertium-quid situation is the GPL itself, which I would argue is actually at something like a perfect right angle to the libertarianism/socialism axis. The GPL exists to use intellectual property rights to negate the concept of intellectual property rights– the GPL uses the system of copyright against itself. From what I understand of RMS’s goals in creating the GPL, he was very much trying to create something socialist. RMS saw that there was a commons which had been taken away when Intellectual Property entered the world– the spirit of sharing and mutual give-and-take which characterized the lawless early days of UNIX, when all information were treated as if it were public domain (even when it wasn’t) and all software was just copied freely– and he was trying to restore that commons, to create structures within intellectual property law that would allow people to recreate the freedom they would have in a world without intellectual property law.
    So, what did RMS do there? Well, from the socialist-ish perspective this is a triumph against the restrictive concept of property, an anarchistic erasure of the power of capital and a celebration of the importance of communal good. But from the libertarianism-ish perspective this is a triumph of the concept of property, because the benefits of something like socialism have been acquired by working entirely within the system. (The GPL, in a sense, simultaneously represents how both leftists and libertarians would like to see themselves.)
    Meanwhile if you look at how this socialist-in-intent GPL gets used, you find that really the GPL is an incredibly capitalist thing, just not in the ways we’re used to thinking of capital. The GPL is, in a sense, a system for managing intellectual capital. Software code under the GPL is a thing which has value, even if that value isn’t specifically monetary. Meanwhile using that code (from a developer’s perspective, at least) requires you to give something of value in return: that is, more code. You’re not getting something for nothing, you don’t have a “right” to anything, you’re engaging in a transaction where something of value is received and something of value is given back.

  20. Coin

    Stepping away from the GPL for a moment, I think there’s some kind of fascinating little parable about software project management in all of this. Did you see what specifically it is RedState is asking for?

    In February, we will be launching RedState v.3.0 – a complete website overhaul that, instead of relying on third-party providers like Scoop or Dupral, will this time be our own specially-created platform designed to give us all the capabilities, power and independence to serve you, our readers with everything you want and deserve… But the v.3.0 upgrade will not come cheap. And to make it happen, we need to raise an additional $25,000 over and above what we have available in our budget.

    So, am I reading this right? They tried an existing software package; they concluded they couldn’t fix it, and instead of trying to fix it they jumped to something else. But this didn’t turn about to be what they wanted either, so instead of trying to fix this (even though “this” here is Drupal, something which both (1) is engineered for extensibility and (2) has a very healthy software contractor community) they’re going to jump ship again and write their own CMS architecture from the ground up?! I’ve seen people go this last route and very rarely does it actually work well. Clearly it works occasionally– if it didn’t Drupal, RoR, Django and Scoop, each of which grew out of a use case, wouldn’t exist in the first place– but it’s not an easy, surefire or deadline-friendly thing and I’m pretty sure there are entire case studies encouraging people not to do what they have just decided to do.
    My first response basically was, well, maybe they’ll get lucky, but this really, REALLY sounds to me like a recipe for burning through $25,000 and then coming back sheepishly to ask for more when the wheel they’ve reinvented doesn’t roll.

  21. Nomen Nescio

    writing one’s own CMS is one of those ideas that only seem smart if you don’t really have any notion of what it involves. or are really, really drunk at the time. sober, informed people try to find or customize an already written CMS to fit their needs instead.
    good, extant CMSes are usually the product of careful design by some very good designers, and those are far thinner on the ground than random coders (like myself). i’ve seen what comes out when random coders try to write mid-sized web applications without the necessary design expertise; it’s not pretty.
    $25k isn’t a big budget as such projects go; it could pay for a good coder or two to implement a good design, or a good designer to write perhaps one half of the required specs, but not both. expect RedState to keep running on Drupal for the foreseeable future, or else crash and burn in a most amusing fashion when they try to cut over.
    (interestingly, that amount could probably pay one smart coder to extend Drupal to give them what they need that doesn’t come standard with Drupal. somebody’s not thinking coolly about this over there, i suspect.)

  22. Nomen Nescio

    oh, i just noticed — they want to cut over to a not yet written in-house CMS in February? of what year? 2009 they might manage; a month from now, forget about it.

  23. Janne

    This debate about what Open Source and GPL in particular really “is”, politically, sometimes crops up. But the simplest answer is that it isn’t really political in any strong sense.
    One way to see it is as community sharing: I give you all this to use and change, and you contribute your improvements in turn to everybody. Sounds vaguely socialist. But reformulate it this way:
    I will grant you use of this code, and to spread it in turn, though I keep the original rights to it. And you will pay me “in natura” by giving me (and anyone else) use of any improvements you do to it; and of course, if you spread the code you will effectively do some of my marketing for me at no cost. In that formulation it is decidedly capitalist; We just skip the part about changing work for money in between – we use the work directly as a means of transaction.
    And it is decidedly not against ownership. GPL stands and falls with a strong notion of IP ownership and copyright. It works by the original coder keeping all rights and only granting limited exemptions to those rights contingent on condition of granting the same rights in turn for any associated code. Where GPL to fail or be declared invalid, none of all that code would be free – it would all fall back to the original owner and any use not granted specifically by them would be illegal.

  24. Dillo

    I can see this as nothing but a good thing. They go out and spend $30-50K on a custom-built blogging application that is supported by some small number of people(definitely less than are working on Scoop, Slash, WordPress, Drupal, etc.) and who are the only ones who know how to maintain it. So, not only are they screwed when the guy(s) decide to take a vacation and it “exercises” one of the lesser-well-known bugs. Plus that’s $30-50K that DOESN’T go to a right-wing candidate.
    Software is not just hard, but it’s also very meritocratic and bootstrappy. There is quite a bit of help and documentation out there for most of these systems. The student must be willing to receive and absorb the knowledge presented to him though.

  25. dave

    If we’re placing licenses on political spectra, the one I’d put closest to libertarianism is BSD, which basically says “Here you go, take responsibility for what you do with it, give us credit for our work, hope you like it”. For the GPL I’d agree with the people who are putting it on the leftist/socialist side.
    There are some interesting comparisons that could be made between the two areas, but that would turn this into both a political AND a software licensing flame war, so they’re best left uncommented on.
    But I agree with Janne in #23, it really doesn’t make much sense to describe open-source licenses in terms of politics (or politics in terms of licenses).

  26. Stan

    “Patently agreed; GPL is libertarian, not socialist.

    Sorry guys, but GPL is definitely liberal. GPL is a contract that uses a government granted author’s monopoly (called copyright) as its mechanism for enforcement in conjunction with the civil court system. Government granted monopolies and civil lawsuits are not libertarian principles but part of the “nanny state.”

  27. Nomen Nescio

    i don’t know where on the political map to place any of the free software licenses, but the fact that so very many different and mutually incompatible camps all seem to want to claim the GPL as their own tells me i was right about it; it’s a good one!

  28. Ed the Frog

    There is room between pure socialism (Sweden) and pure libertarianism (Iraq?) for a kind of hybrid left-libertarianism or socialist-libertarianism. This hybrid state would interfere in the economy to protect the weak from the powerful (health care, labor laws, consumer protections, etc), it would have military and police functions, but it would not care what people do to themselves or in the privacy of their home — drugs would be legal, prostitution, gay marriage, things like that, the state would consider irrelevant; literally, none of the state’s business.
    I have always thought of the GPL and similar “Copyleft” ideas as fitting into this space, because it is libertarian from the point of view of the user — no one can tell them what to do with the software, but it is a form of voluntary socialism on the part of the software engineer — he or she is freely giving away his work, not because he wants anything for it, but because he thinks others would find it useful, or be able to improve on it.

  29. Anonymous

    I really don’t see the big deal here. Conservatives setup a website using free software that is supported by a programming community that donates their time. When the software doesn’t meet their needs they try other free software that also doesn’t meet their needs. So now they ask their community to contribute funds so that they can buy some commercial software that will meet their needs. BIG DEAL!
    By the way, I am not a Republican.

  30. Davis

    By the way, I am not a Republican.

    Yes, I’m always glad to be reminded that missing the point is a non-partisan (omni-partisan?) tendency.

  31. Eamon Knight

    oh, i just noticed — they want to cut over to a not yet written in-house CMS in February? of what year? 2009 they might manage; a month from now, forget about it
    Don’t be so pessimistic. Like all proper conservatives, they’re rugged-individualist self-reliant get-it-done supermen. Their new CMS will be in beta by the end of next week, just you watch ;-).

  32. JO'N

    I’m also disinclined to get involved in arguments about the GPL. However, it seems to me that describing the economics of the GPL as “socialist” or “libertarian” or anything else seems to be missing the point. In my opinion, because the GPL is essentially anti-intellectual-property, it serves to remove GPL’ed software from the realm of economics, mostly. The GPL is a legal framework for organizing the development of software on a non-economic basis. (What form that organization takes is up to the individual GPL project, of course.) Hence, trying to associate the GPL with a particular economic system is, as the saying goes, like trying to dance about architecture.

  33. stan

    “because the GPL is essentially anti-intellectual-property, it serves to remove GPL’ed software from the realm of economics, mostly.”
    Not at all. IP law is the only enforcement mechanism for the GPL, so it can’t be considered anti-IP. It is merely IP that is “paid for” by the user following certain conditions rather than cash, in effect, barter. It is a voluntary contractual relationship that is enabled by copyright. It is all very much pro-IP.
    If you use the GPL’d software internally in a business you are free to modify it in any way you want without having to give away your programing. Huge business run on massive quantities of internally modified GPL’d software. I wouldn’t call that “removing software from the realm of economics.” Only if you distribute the software to the public do you have to include your changes and the source as part of the distro. GPL isn’t viral because you don’t have to use it. You are free to source an pay for private software.

  34. QrazyQat

    The idea that Scoop wasn’t up to the load Red State put on it is nonsense; Scoop is up to the load that DailyKos puts on it. If it’s up to that load — some half a million daily visits (or more), 20,000-30,000 comments a month, 500-600 diaries a day — it’s up to Red State’s 60,000/day traffic.

  35. Xanthir, FCD

    QrazyQat: Mark addressed that at the end of his post. DK isn’t using vanilla Scoop – they’ve modified it to handle their loads. It’s very possible that Scoop out-of-the-box can’t handle the sort of loads Red State puts them through.
    It’s also, of course, possible that they were just doing something inept with it. I find that this is usually the case when someone says a piece of software doesn’t work.

  36. DaleP


    Sorry guys, but GPL is definitely liberal. GPL is a contract that uses a government granted author’s monopoly (called copyright) as its mechanism for enforcement in conjunction with the civil court system. Government granted monopolies and civil lawsuits are not libertarian principles but part of the “nanny state.”

    Do you mean to include the use of the civil courts to enforce copyright as part of the “nanny state”? Many authors, artists, and companies of all sizes use and enforce copyright. Are you arguing for the elimination of copyright? I thought libertarians not of the anarcho-libertarian style valued the use of the civil courts to enforce contracts and licenses as a good thing, better than government enforcement, and not “nanny state” at all.

  37. QrazyQat

    It’s very possible that Scoop out-of-the-box can’t handle the sort of loads Red State puts them through.
    Since DK offered them the DailyKos changes that isn’t the problem.

  38. Jon H

    ” libertarian from the point of view of the user — no one can tell them what to do with the software”
    The users of many GPL projects are developers who wish to produce new tech based on the GPL’d code. The GPL very definitely does tell such users what to do with the software.
    The license that gives such users the most freedom is probably BSD, which as noted above requires only credit be given. New software that uses BSD-licensed code can be kept private and sold only as binaries, or given away as source code.
    GPL 3 gets a bit more forceful in making demands, what with requiring you to provide source even if the software is just a server-based service used remotely.

  39. TheGZeus

    When the GPL was written, code was generally distributed on paper because source code in ASCII takes up more space than a binary.
    The GPL is about shared knowledge, not property. I don’t care what RMS says. I’m basing this on what was going on in his life when it was written, from articles and papers written by various people. I could ramble on about the subconscious forever, but bleh.
    You can use the GPL for socialist reasons, for libertarian reasons, for social reasons, for scientific reasons… ad infinitum.
    It’s just a license that makes sure code stays visible to the user, should they want it (CentOS VS RedHat. Redhat gives source, not binaries). The reasons behind it or end result is all up to the user of the license and/or software.
    What I’m basically saying is it’s not a license that has any particular slant. It doesn’t even default to being a community project(Emacs/XEmacs).
    What the GPL says is if someone wants to see the source code they can.
    Who knows, maybe some day ram and storage will be fast enough that most languages will be interpreted/JIT and there will just be source…

  40. Admiral

    This blog is always at its best when it discusses math. It seems like whenever it goes political, it makes wild, illogical claims or just misses the point. This post is a case of the latter. While not defending RS, I should say that you mysteriously do not really rebut any of RS’ claims or discuss them. Its point wasn’t that it was entitled to any free help, it was that free help would have been provided if they were liberal.

  41. Steven Salemi

    Hey, this isn’t about politics so much as the fact that the redstate people are computer-idiots, and much of their whining and non-comprehension may not be hypocrasy so much as ignorance.
    As for the larger question, well, let’s see: everything the government does, it does badly and inefficiently. Compare FEDEX to USPS, enough said. Now, being self-employed in a country that does not have universal health care, I pay $240 per month every month for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and that is an adequate amount of coverage for me. It stings but it isn’t horrible.
    If the government started providing me with universal health care, where would the money come? I’d be taxed more, that’s how. Would the friction losses and inefficiencies and corruption of the government machine mean that I would either pay more, or get less, or both, vis a vis my health care? OF COURSE IT WOULD, how could anyone thing otherwise?
    So what is the BIG F. DEAl about universal health care if it has to be paid for anyway?!?!? Or is that the poor can not afford it, so by providing it “universally,” we are shifting the cost over to those who can afford it, like an insurance scheme? Right, but I’m already involved in an insurance plan, and so I’m already paying for those who can’t afford it.
    With a government plan, I’d be paying TWICE for those who can’t afford it, while I continue to barely draw on the system myself (thank God).
    You know, those red state guys ain’t so bad!

  42. Defcon

    After reading through this story, and the subsequent diatribe in the comment section… its quite clear that the whining is certainly on the left. There are many sites that have had issues with various CMS packages, posted these issues to the related portals for help, and gotten what they needed. Usually anonymously.. the Drupal Community is very good at this. I find it ironic that Kuro5hin still lists Redstate as a site that uses Scoop (with a follow up snide comment about Redstate’s voicing of discontent and subsequent switch).
    But the point that is missed here is that the lefties at Kuro5hin in true anti-capitalist fashion, stupidly missed the point, and especially an opportunity to promote their own widgets. Rather than Kuro5hin giving help where needed to Redstate to PROMOTE Scoop as a viable platform and improve the product in the long run, they sandbagged the opportunity. They could’ve used this as a means to promote themselves as “The Engine That Drives Political Debate” … and possibly turned Scoop into a product that can be given for free, with paid support contracts. With all the press that Redstate and ‘Kos get, this certainly was blown big time by Kuro5hin!
    Scoop as a CMS is DYING or more to the point… its DEAD! I’m a Systems Engineer and started with that platform as well about 2years ago, and after a fashion, I found the interfaces to be kludgy, buggy, and far behind what Drupal or WordPress bring to the table. In addition, the devel community was an army of one.. or at least it was always the same person who ever responded on the list… and to the point about “computer admin this and that why can’t they fix it? blah blah blah” My time like anyone else’s when running sites is valuable, I don’t need to be bothered mucking for hours through the code to make adhoc changes and fix what should work. The occasional bug is ok, I don’t have a problem with that, but numerous ones… forget it! If a group of people develop something that is useful and WORKS WELL right out of the can, I’ll do my damnedest to promote it for them, there success is my success. Bitching whining and moaning that “they couldn’t do it themselves” is meaningless. If you put out bad code, then what’s the point in people using it? You’re wasting valuable disk space and bandwidth on a server somewhere, as well as those people’s valuable time.
    For me prior to switching to Drupal I started going through the list of named sites on Kuro5hin on who used Scoop, and many were either on Drupal, WordPress, or completely off the air. DailyKos is about the only high profile site that uses Scoop to my knowledge, and its progenitor has very deep pockets (family hotels in Central America) and I’m sure Soros has his fingers in there somewhere too… so development needs are addressed quickly to be sure when you have dedicated developers.
    So the short version here is that those that put their ‘ideology’ before their business model… have a tendency to need those leftist freebies such as food stamps and free health care because they certainly haven’t learned any real lessons in school or in the real world… you don’t shit where you eat… you’ll end up talking shit in the long run… and suffer from nasty halitosis as well!


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