Notable feedback: Richard Stallman

Last week we received a message from a very special person:

“Please write to Richard Stallman to
He could not send you a message through the page himself because of the requirements for logging in.”

We were both skeptical and thrilled at the same time – this is Richard Stallman after all and you simply don’t joke with things like this. So we sent him a message – which got through – and we were really pleased to receive a rich piece of feedback on our project.

Here’s the list of points raised by RMS – and following our answers to each one of them. It’s very important to us to share this kind of feedback – so everyone knows where we stand and why we are doings things the way we do.

- Instead of saying “open source”, how about saying FLOSS, so as to give the free software movement a little recognition and publicity?

That was a great idea – we changed the slogan in the home page and also updated the “about” page in the blog. We also included a link to the free software definition as stated on the FSF website ( This is a very big deal for us – by using “open-source” instead of  ”free” we might have failed to express what we really mean (and we apologize for that). The concept of “free software” is very important to why we started this project in the first place – therefore the updates.

- Accept payments by bitcoin, not just paypal. Why is it important to have one payment split among several receipients rather than multiple payments done by the same payer?

We have other payment methods in our roadmap including Bitcoin. It’s important to stress that one of the Paypal’s features we depend today is the ability to make “parallel payments” (so we can handle payments for more than one developer from a single account/transaction). It’s important to note that this feature in particular is not an essential requirement but a desirable functionality; it just made sense to us. We wrote a more detailed explanation on the e-mails (which you’ll be able to see later here in the blog).

- Loosen up about how people log in.

We just added support to custom OpenID providers – however the discussion shed a light on the anonymity question. We never thought of it as a requirement (since it didn’t see it as an issue in the whole scenario) but he gave us a different point of view – anonymity is a right, not an feature. Users that want to remain anonymous should have the right to do that. That really makes sense – and Bitcoin could fill this gap in the payment process so we wouldn’t have a break in the model. That being said, he offered himself  to discuss parallel payments support (transactions with one payer and multiple receivers) with the Bitcoin experts he’s meeting in Bitcoin2012 this weekend in London (they might be able to help). Of course, at the same time we invite anyone who wants to help us implementing it on our project – we’re already looking into that but help is always welcome.

We’d like to finish this post by thanking Richard Stallman for both the feedback and the permission to disclose the whole conversation – we’ll have it linked here very soon.



  1. Yes, anonymous donations would be great, and should usually be the norm. I strongly advocate them on Flattr and gittip.

    But note that unlike other services, FS does not collect any money upfront from its users to secure both its own financing and payout of the pledges. All payments are voluntary, with only your reputation at stake if you renege on your bounties. That won’t work with anonymity.

    Conversely, deposits for bounties that will be paid out years later or not at all require a lot of trust in FS and incur a high opportunity cost in wasted interest on the deposit and reduced opportunity to use the money elsewhere in the mean-time. (I am seeing the problem with TipTheWeb, where my deposits just idle away, as they cannot be paid out because no one is claiming their accounts).

    I guess this is a trade-off.

  2. I met Richard Stallman at the Bitcoin 2012 conference and was impressed by what he had to say. If you want some assistance with implementing a Bitcoin payment process, please let me know. I have a project called MultiBit Merchant that may be of some use: It is MIT license and definitely FLOSS.

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