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referencing non-free software

From: Ilya Shlyakhter
Subject: referencing non-free software
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2018 13:44:16 -0500

FSF guidelines discourage referencing non-free software:

I see some problems with this, and think it'd be better if the
standards addressed these questions head-on.

To me, this prohibition looks like simple protectionism.  It's one
thing to promote free software by creating a free program superior to
a non-free one, pointing users to both, explaining the advantages of
the free program (including the freedom part), and then letting the
users decide.  It's quite another thing to simply hide the non-free
program from users.  I have seen software authors who are confident in
their work point to competing software right from their websites; for
me as a user, this promotes confidence in the author's own work.   Is
the assumption here that users are unable to see their own best
interests, even when presented with all the arguments?  If yes, that
seems disrespectful and paternalistic towards users.  If no, why not
point users to both free and non-free alternatives and trust them to

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