Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 14th Dec 2009 15:16 UTC, submitted by chully
Gnome Over the weekend, there has been a bit of a ruffling of the feathers over in the GNOME camp. It started with complaints received about the content on Planet GNOME, and ended with people proposing and organising a vote to split GNOME from the GNU Project.
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sorbus
Member since:
2009-12-11

That's exactly the problem.

A great leader IS inconsistent. A good politician IS inconsistent. A great scientist IS inconsistent.


This makes no sense. You're just inventing your own definition of consistency, unless you think that contradiction == adaptation.

It's called learning, adapting, working under new and different circumstances. This is what RMS and the FSF should be doing: adapting to new circumstances, new realities. Dare to be inconsistent - a fear of inconsistency is a recipe for stagnation.


The FSF (and RMS) would not have achieved so much over the years if they had refused to "adapt". Your comment reflects your own personal negative opinions of them, and not the reality of what they do.

Basically what you're saying in the article is: "I use your software now, so you should give up the ideals (which I don't understand or share) that led you and others to create it in the first place, for my convenience".

Reply Parent Score: 10

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

This makes no sense. You're just inventing your own definition of consistency, unless you think that contradiction == adaptation.


You clearly misunderstand what I'm trying to say.

A lot of people have this perception that leaders NEED to be consistent AT ALL COSTS. That consistency in and of itself is a redeeming quality that BY DEFINITION makes you a good leader.

This is absolute bogus. Consistency makes you bad leader. A good leader adapts, dare to admits his mistakes, dares to change policies based on the ever-changing nature of the world around him. A good leader is not set in his convictions, he bases his convictions on the world around him.

That's why even the biggest Christian party in The Netherlands supports gay marriage, euthanasia, and abortion: because Dutch society deems these things important, valuable, and a sign of progress, freedom, and civility.

Have you ever wondered why churches are running low on visitors in Western Europe? It's because many church leaders refuse to adapt their convictions to the changing world around them. The FSF will go down the same route if it continues this way.

In summation: changing one's convictions and principles based on the changing nature of the world is a GOOD thing. Radically holding one to one's convictions in spite of the ever-changing world is a BAD thing - no matter how well these convictions may have served you in the past.

Reply Parent Score: 3

mtzmtulivu Member since:
2006-11-14

Thom,
fundamentals need to be consistent

a politician can be consistent on trying to improve the lives of the society and may change sides on how to best do that .. his fundamental position is improving the life of the society and can afford to "adopt" to present conditions to attain his goal

a scientist may be consistent in seeking the truth but may change sides on what is currently believed to be the truth or how to best seek it ..this scientist is fundamentally after the truth and knowledge on how the world works and can afford to "adopt" in a quest to achieve his goal

fundamentals need to be consistent .. and any leader need to be consistent on what they fundamentally believe in before they can get any credibility

RMS fundamentally believe in his 4 principles ..his positions has changed on how to best attain those fundamentals ..GNU wanted an operating system and accepted linux because it was better than their own is an example of them adopting to circumstances

Reply Parent Score: 6

sorbus Member since:
2009-12-11

[q]This makes no sense. You're just inventing your own definition of consistency, unless you think that contradiction == adaptation.

You clearly misunderstand what I'm trying to say.

A lot of people have this perception that leaders NEED to be consistent AT ALL COSTS. That consistency in and of itself is a redeeming quality that BY DEFINITION makes you a good leader.

This is absolute bogus. Consistency makes you bad leader. A good leader adapts, dare to admits his mistakes, dares to change policies based on the ever-changing nature of the world around him. A good leader is not set in his convictions, he bases his convictions on the world around him.


Riiiiight. To quote Groucho Marx: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others". Unfortunately, he was a comedian and you're being serious.

This is what happens in politics, where the only real principle is "I'll do or say anything that fits with the prevailing moods in my society (which sometimes I help manipulate) in order to stay in power".

That's why even the biggest Christian party in The Netherlands supports gay marriage, euthanasia, and abortion: because Dutch society deems these things important, valuable, and a sign of progress, freedom, and civility.


That's all well and good Thom, and I'm glad to hear it. Given the self-proclaimed strength of your principles, I suppose that if 20 years down the road Dutch society starts thinking that all these things are now uncivilised again, that will be A-OK with you.

Have you ever wondered why churches are running low on visitors in Western Europe? It's because many church leaders refuse to adapt their convictions to the changing world around them. The FSF will go down the same route if it continues this way.


This has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this discussion. Free Software is not a religion, it is only called that by its detractors. Oh, and while we're at it, its "tenets" are not demonstrably false.

In summation: changing one's convictions and principles based on the changing nature of the world is a GOOD thing. Radically holding one to one's convictions in spite of the ever-changing world is a BAD thing - no matter how well these convictions may have served you in the past.


What you're describing is a good way to be absolutely feckless, with little hope of affecting any change unless you happen to jump on the right bandwagon.

Holding someone to their self-proclaimed convictions is radical? I'm sorry, but you keep throwing logical fallacies after non-sequiturs after etymological fallacies at me, and I have no desire to dissect them all.

It's OK for you to only be temporarily principled, i.e., basically unprincipled, whatever. However, in your last and earlier posts you're conflating politics, leadership and science, at the very least. Some ideas for you:

"Great leaders" have followers because they stick to their ideals, come what may (where said ideals are not "anything, so long as I'm the leader").

The FSF has always stood for software freedom and the proliferation of free software (both as defined by them).

Scientists do have one uncompromising principle, also known as search for the truth. Falsification of flawed theories and subsequent reassessment of one's understanding of how things work is the whole point of science.

Reply Parent Score: 5

Kalessin Member since:
2007-01-18

One of the few good things that can be said about RMS is that he sticks to his morals. He believes that proprietary software is immoral/evil and sticks to it. The problem is that not only do most people not agree with him, but many who support his own movement don't: hence the divide between OSS and Free Software.

It is a great thing for a leader to adapt and change when he makes mistakes, but backing off on what they believe to be morally correct is just plain bad. I, for one, think that it's incredibly sad when churches change their views just because the general populace don't agree with them. Morality doesn't change just because people want it to.

I see nothing wrong with RMS believing that proprietary software is immoral, much as I disagree with him. The problem is that he imposes his beliefs on others. He's not like a humble missionary trying to convert people to his god. He's more like a crusader trying to cut down everyone who disagrees.

So, in principle, I agree that leaders need to adapt, but not on morality, not unless they can truly be converted. The issue here is how he treats those who disagree. His lack of tolerance is the problem. It's okay to believe differently, but it's not okay to persecute others because of it.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Langalf Member since:
2006-04-25

Wow. So, in your world view, if the majority of a population decides uncontrolled murder is a good thing, we should all go along with that, no matter what our strongly held personal convictions / beliefs / religious values might say to the contrary?

Remind me to stay far, far away from your world.

Edited 2009-12-14 23:22 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2