On Friday I wrote an article responding to a post by Richard Stallman. Over the weekend both posts caused quite a flurry of discussion; thank-you to everyone who contributed constructive feedback.

In my post I referred to Richard’s position as seeming a bit ‘childish‘ to me.

As with every post that I write, I reflect carefully over the words I write before and after I press the publish button. In all of our writing our words affect the thoughts and feelings of others, and I think this resonates even more-so in the Free Software and Open Source world where we all put so much passion and time into what we do as volunteers as well as for those lucky enough to do this as a career too.

Unfortunately, sometimes I end up saying some things I wish I hadn’t, as is the case here.

It was wrong of me to refer to Richard’s position as ‘childish‘. Quite possibly the most significant reason why so many of us respect Richard for his lifelong body of work is due to his clarity and commitment to his view of freedom, and although there is debate about the approach in which he articulates these views at times, it was nonetheless wrong of me to describe his position as ‘childish‘; he is not a child, quite the opposite.

As I reflected on my words (and many of your comments, which I appreciate you contributing), it became clear to me that the right thing to do was to apologize.

As such, Richard, I apologize whole-heartedly to referring to your position in your post as ‘childish‘ and I continue to have great respect for the work you do to encourage and grow software freedom around the world.

While I still feel that referring to the Ubuntu dash as malicious software that collects information about users without their knowledge (spyware) and as a result that Ubuntu should be shunned for “spying”, somewhat over-sensationalizes the issue, my issue with his post was not as much about content but more of language and tone, and that didn’t justify me being childish myself in referring to his position as ‘childish‘.

As I mentioned in my original post, when these debates arise, my aim and responsibility is not to convince our community that the decisions made in Ubuntu or at Canonical are right or agreeable. My goal is to simply ensure that our users and community have all the information available to make up their own minds.

Likewise, I am also not going to claim that I have the influence or capabilities to change these policies based on community feedback; I don’t drive the technical policy and decision making of what goes into Ubuntu. My goal here instead is to reflect the pulse of community feedback to those people who do make these decisions to help them make the most informed decisions they can.

What I do have full control over is the way I articulate my own words and invite discussion and debate on my own blog, and I am constantly learning, sometimes making mistakes as we can see here, and trying to do the best by Ubuntu. Apologies again to Richard, and I am going to chalk this one down as another one of life’s lessons.

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