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n8n is not open source and your project is gaslighting its users #40

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ddevault opened this issue Oct 8, 2019 · 222 comments · May be fixed by #42

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@ddevault
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commented Oct 8, 2019

This behavior is not acceptable. Even the Commons Clause itself tells you not to describe your software as open source, see the FAQ: https://commonsclause.com/

The Apache license is a well known and respected license, and the "Commons Clause" leverages the language of the also well known "Creative Commons", together creating a false impression that this software is distributed by a respectable group of developers. You cannot rely on putting its name there to correct your lies.

Your software is rightly called "source available". Do not gaslight us. In the words of Randall Monroe:

I just noticed CVS has started stocking homeopathic pills on the same shelves with--and labeled similarly to--their actual medicine. Telling someone who trusts you that you're giving them medicine, when you know you're not, because you want their money, isn't just lying--it's like an example you'd make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong.

Note: If you lock this issue you are a liar and a coward. Hear the anger of those you've wronged.

Edit: this link is useful for onlookers wondering I'm angry out of the gate.

@phoe

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commented Oct 8, 2019

To clarify @ddevault's pretty aggressive post: the website at https://n8n.io/ describes n8n.io as Open Source Alternative for Zapier/tray.io.

Based on the commonly understood definitions of "open source" - the open source definition from OSI or the free software definition from FSF - n8n.io is not "open source", as Commons Clause-licensed software does not meet their criteria.

ddevault added a commit to ddevault/n8n that referenced this issue Oct 8, 2019
This project is not open source. I could not find the source for the
website, but it will have to be updated as well.

Fixes n8n-io#40
@ddevault ddevault referenced a pull request that will close this issue Oct 8, 2019
@ddevault

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commented Oct 8, 2019

I have filed a pull request which fixes this for the docs and README:

#42

The website will need to be updated as well.

@jaller94

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commented Oct 8, 2019

Why is the issue (especially the note that he would be a coward) so emotionally charged and accusing?
In my opinion this is not constructive feedback and gives the project owner little chance to resolve the issue while saving their face.

Though valid in its point about the license, I want to flag the first version of the original post as not adhering to the project's Code of Conduct nor good etiquette.

@ddevault

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commented Oct 8, 2019

Because it threatens a fragile community which is near to our hearts, and does it out of blatant financial self-interest. And it seems that, since we're still talking about it here, the author has proven themselves not to be a coward.

@ddevault

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commented Oct 8, 2019

And for the record, there is a way the author can get out of this while saving face: redact what they've said and be honest in their marketing material. I will be harsh on malicious attempts at subverting open source, but I'm not beyond forgiveness when the behavior is corrected.

@jhoughjr

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commented Oct 8, 2019

I can see no reason to use this code in my projects if only YOU get to monetize it. You are blatantly lying to get attention and trying to lawyer yourself out of it. Why profit from the contributions of others only for yourself? Would have been great for my needs, but I have to eat. Thank you for wasting my and my client's time evaluating your product only to realize you lie on the front page and contradict yourself in the same breath. I urge all developers to boycott this project for its shady misleading practices.

@jhoughjr

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commented Oct 8, 2019

It appears the language of the FAQ doesn't jive with the definition of the Commons Clause. A bit confusing. "May I create, distribute, offer as SaaS, and/or “sell” my products using Commons Clause licensed components?

Yes!

Commons Clause only forbids you from “selling” the Commons Clause software itself. You may develop on top of Commons Clause licensed software (adding applications, tools, utilities or plug-ins) and you may embed and redistribute Commons Clause software in a larger product, and you may distribute and even “sell” (which includes offering as a commercial SaaS service) your product. You may even provide consulting services (see clarifying discussion here). You just can’t sell a product that consists in substance of the Commons Clause software and does not add value.

This is not a new concept. It’s similar to “value-add” requirements in many licenses. For example let’s say you use a library containing numerical algorithms from Rogue Wave Software. Can you create an application with the library and sell the application? Yes. Can you offer that application as SaaS and charge for it? Yes. Can you change the name of the library and change some function names and sell the library or offer it as SaaS? No.

Let’s apply the example to Commons Clause licensed software. Commons Clause-licensed Redis Graph is a graph database module for BSD-licensed Redis. Can you create applications with Redis Graph and distribute and/or sell them? Yes. Can you redistribute Redis Graph along with your application? Yes. Can you offer that application as SaaS and charge for it? Yes. Can you take Redis Graph itself, call it ElastiGraph and offer it as SaaS and charge for it. No."

@janober

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commented Oct 8, 2019

Honestly did not expect that people care THAT much about that. I simply fear that it confuses way more people than it helps. I myself have no idea at all what the term "source-available" really means and I assume that is the case for most people. But sure understand also your position.

But I also think debating right now further about it would not help. I will think about it at least a night (maybe more) to make a decision. I advise also the other side to do the same to see and understand my side. If the decision is that I change it. Everything is solved anyway. If I decide to keep it we can proceed here.

@ddevault

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commented Oct 8, 2019

I myself have no idea at all what the term "source-available" really means and I assume that is the case for most people

"Source available" is only a vaugely established term, unlike "open source" which has a very clear definition. Proponents of open source have been pushing "source available" to give an out to people who are trying to dillute our terminology with software that doesn't supply the freedoms at the core of the (non-negotiable, entirely clear) definition of open source software. Though the term "source available" is less well-known, that doesn't give you an excuse to misuse established terminology. If you think that using "open source" will get you a bigger market, then you'd be correct - but you can only access the open source market by being open source, and if you're not you don't get to use the term.

@kfogel

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commented Oct 8, 2019

Hi, @janober. There's some history here that you're probably not aware of:

For many years -- literally decades -- companies have tried to dilute the term "open source" by applying it to software licenses that don't offer the full set of freedoms that true open source offers. In fact, one of the main functions of https://opensource.org/ is to push back on these companies swiftly and thus preserve the recognizeable meaning of the term "open source". See https://opensource.org/faq#avoid-unapproved-licenses for more information.

People depend on that meaning. When they know software is actually open source, then they can use it in a number of contexts without having to ask their lawyers to re-review the license terms (because the lawyers already reviewed all the open source licenses, years ago, and we have no need to dance that dance again).

This really is selling lemonade and labelling it "milk". When people point out that you are doing that, you can sleep on it if you want, but there is no point trying to change the definition of the word "milk" so that it covers lemonade too. Everyone already agreed years ago what "milk" means. Please don't create your own private language and then try to persuade everyone that the terms we are accustomed to using actually mean something different from what we all mean by them.

It's no different than if you claimed your software "reads email" when it doesn't actually have that feature. You wouldn't try to get out of that by saying that your definition of "read email" is different from everyone else's. Instead, you'd acknowledge that you'd used the words wrong and fix the wording -- at least, that's what I hope you'd do.

I realize that @ddevault's reaction may seems strong, but that's because what you are doing innocently is a tactic that many others have done maliciously. Even if your intent was not malicious, the effect is the same: you are confusing the marketplace needlessly. A bunch of people will get home, open up the bottle, and be surprised to discover lemonade when they very clearly bought "milk".

Don't do this to software developers. Please use words with the meanings they already have.

Your software is not open source. Stop claiming it is.

@janober

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commented Oct 8, 2019

@kfogel Thanks a lot for explaining that to me. Is very appreciated and really helpful and important for me to know to get some context.

@mjhea0

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commented Oct 8, 2019

Why open an issue with such aggressiveness, @ddevault? Why assume ill-intentions from the get go?

EDIT: This is why -> https://docs.n8n.io/#/faq?id=is-n8n-really-open-source

@etewiah

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commented Oct 8, 2019

I was initially upset by @ddevault 's aggressive tone but on reflection its probably a good thing - its generating even more strong feelings for the project.
Thanks @janober for sharing the source code for such an awesome project - that's good enough to make up for any misunderstanding about the correct label for such a project.

@cohan

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commented Oct 8, 2019

There's absolutely no way this aggression is warranted @ddevault ! At least let the person turn out to be an evil villain before you treat them as one.

Getting some seriously strong vibes that you just learned the term gaslighting recently too - if we're on misuse of words and phrases it might be worth brushing up on that term.. Even by your definition this is "lying" at best (source available), not "gaslighting" (open source)

@ddevault

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commented Oct 8, 2019

It's correct that it recently occured to me that the term gaslighting was appropriate for this kind of misbehavior. However, my use of it is correct.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's belief.

Targetting the open source community, sowing seeds of doubt, questioning our memories of some kind of long-standing debate on the nature of the term "open source", trying to change our perception of the phrase... it fits pretty damn well.

@kfogel

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commented Oct 8, 2019

I think @janober did it through inattention and ignorance, however, not with a consciously thought-out goal of destabilizing the term "open source" (unlike some others who have done it over the years).

After this thread, if @janober doesn't fix it, well, then I would agree that inattention and ignorance can no longer be claimed, so it would be knowingly destructive behavior at that point. I don't know what time zone @janober is in, so I'm not assuming the commits to fix this would come in instantaneously, but still, they're pretty trivial, so it should be an easy fix assuming he wants to make it...

@ddevault

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commented Oct 8, 2019

I came out with guns blazing because @janober has already demonstrated an awareness of the problem and declared they are unwilling to fix it:

https://docs.n8n.io/#/faq?id=is-n8n-really-open-source

@janober

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commented Oct 8, 2019

Like written above I want to first properly think about it and then make a decision. I can totally understand your side but I think my original reasoning is still true. That why properly thinking about it seems like the right thing to do.

And like written in the FAQ was my goal simply to communicate to the majority of the people what they are allowed to do with n8n. Did never cross my mind to destabilize the term "open source". Have way to much other stuff on my plate to also add that ;-)

Btw. are in Berlin so is getting quite late here and have to get up early tomorrow. So will not be around much longer.

@mjhea0

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commented Oct 8, 2019

@ddevault: I see. I didn't know this existed. You may want to add that to the original post for context.

I still think you'd get a bit further if you dropped the language. I started questioning whether I knew what the term gaslighting meant, which, in effect, would be gaslighting on your part. :)

P.S. Is 30.000 USD $30.00 or $30,000?

@janober

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commented Oct 8, 2019

@mjhea0 its 30k

@kfogel

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commented Oct 8, 2019

Oh, I hadn't seen that. @ddevault has a point here.

@janober, your "0.01%" in that FAQ item is, to put it mildly, wrong. A lot of devs, and a lot of companies, care very strongly about the actual definition. I myself only clicked on the link from Hacker News because it said open source -- so you already wasted my time, though I suppose I can't blame you entirely for all the followup time I've spent since then :-).

Look, a lot of people who have a lot of experience with this issue are piling on and saying that your personal and idiosyncratic interpretation of the word "open source" is not shared by the professional software industry at large. All you have to do is search the Net to find out that this issue has come up before and been resolved -- in favor of the definition we are claiming -- every time.

Fix the license, fix the home page, fix the FAQ, and then you won't be damaging the term "open source" anymore.

@ddevault

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commented Oct 8, 2019

Like written above I want to first properly think about it and then make a decision. I can totally understand your side but I think my original reasoning is still true. That why properly thinking about it seems like the right thing to do.

The original reasoning describes a valid mode of thought about software development. These are reasonable problems to consider and you've come to reasonable conclusions. Taking these into account while developing software is a good thing, and source-available software is definitely better than entirely proprietary software.

However, as just as your rationale may be for informing your software development philosophy, it doesn't change the fact that your software is not open source. If your conclusion from these (valid) points of view is that your software can lie about being open source, then that's where it stops being okay.

@ddevault

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commented Oct 8, 2019

You may want to add that to the original post for context.

Done.

@mikementor

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commented Oct 8, 2019

// It reminded me of all these 'master-slave' renaming madness...

@eitland

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commented Oct 9, 2019

@janober This project will be valuable even if it isn't Open Source so don't feel too discouraged, but please change the wording or the license, it is misleading, and more importantly in this case, might encourage others to think it is OK.

In this case it doesn't mean much to me as I was only looking to use it at home but there are a number of companies doing this in various ways and it is extremely annoying when it happens. It is also not so much that I'm are planning to sell support or hosting but that while other open source licenses are vetted by a number of parties and are well understood the commons clause will (rightly in my opinion) raise concerns in any serious company of any size.

Also ddevault is worth listening to, he is also publishing open source software and has been doing so for a while and lives by his own rules as far as I can see.

@kennymalac

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commented Oct 9, 2019

@ddevault I think you are being intellectually dishonest. If you go on the repo it says "Open Source" in quotes and in the FAQ it's addressed as not being OSI-compatible. The developer is just trying to make a bit of money in a world where selling software has become obsolete and I see very little wrong with this. If he wants to use Open Source as a marketing term, who the fuck cares? Why are you so pissed about something that has very little effect on you? This is why the term open source itself is a can of worms because really only free-as-in-freedom software guarantees you the four essential freedoms that the great Richard Stallman has outlined. Nowhere does n8n claim to be FOSS so I see very little wrong with this.

@phoe

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commented Oct 9, 2019

If he wants to use Open Source as a marketing term, who the fuck cares?

I understand that @ddevault already outlined it in his posts - care comes from the people who have been coining and using the term to mean strictly what it meant so far, as defined by OSI and FSF.

Nowhere does n8n claim to be FOSS

He claims so right in the name, where he says his software is Open Source, and therefore it is FOSS, since FOSS means Free and Open Source Software.

@raidho36

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commented Oct 11, 2019

@janober I don't question your anecdote; just because some people misuse an important term doesn't mean that it's OK to do it. As it stands, your license is not open source and holding on to that title because it gives you some perks you're not entitled to isn't a right approach to it. What you should do is to either change that title to something more appropriate, add a prominent remark that this title is a deliberate misnomer, or change licensing terms to open source appropriate (remove the Commons Clause). With latter, you can still offer your software for sale and subscription; you could try using the same approach as Microsoft uses with VSCode and Google uses with Chrome: the code itself is open source but a final product is released under proprietary license.

@janober

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commented Oct 11, 2019

@raidho36 Just to clarify. I think you misread it. It is the opposite. n8n was entitled to it. DO did not mean "OSI approved open source" they just meant "open source" in the widest of meanings. I extra asked to NOT get something I am not supposed to be entitled to. That always was and still is important to me! But as much is the opposite. I do not want to be excluded from something I was supposed entitled to.

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commented Oct 11, 2019

@janober Unfortunately, the "widest of meanings" doesn't align with what open source actually is, and it doesn't help that you want this title because you want associated perks without associated obligations. It cannot be overcast and clear at the same time, if one insists that it can it's because they're being dishonest. Justifying it by claiming pop culture general meaning and not actually approved definition doesn't really holds any weight, if we're being honest. As been noted, open source is about beliefs and convictions; if you choose to release something as open source is because you believe in free distribution for everyone, not because it's a hip thing to do. You shouldn't simply appropriate the term at your leisure and try and shoehorn it where it doesn't belong.

@Kernald

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commented Oct 11, 2019

Unfortunately, the "widest of meanings" doesn't align with what open source actually is, and it doesn't help that you want this title because you want associated perks without associated obligations.

I love how this thread exacerbates how closed open-source really is. You totally understood his point, and yet still argue that he's abusing the whole open-source concept in this specific case with Digital Ocean (he's not, as Digital Ocean is not using the term open source correctly either, and that's all he's saying).

@raidho36

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commented Oct 11, 2019

It's closed to people trying to co-opt and undermine it, yes.

@justinphebey

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commented Oct 11, 2019

@janober I would suggest altering the language a bit, instead of nondescript "open source" you can directly state "released under Apache License v2. with Commons Clause". That way everyone knows exactly what kind of license your software is released under, and there's no room for confusion. Alternatively, you can include fine print connected to the """open source""" tag, explaining that the software license doesn't meets all the criteria of open source software but in all but one ways it's equivalent.

I agree with the first part of this but not the latter part. It is though either Open Source or not and someone shouldn't seek to change the effect of any licence through separate wording outside of the licence document or the meaning of Open Source.

One solution might be to diverge the public aspect of the project and the SaaS part to have different licences and only push some aspects to the public project. Of course someone could still fork the public project and develop it further but it wouldn't any more be the brand developed by the originator. The latter point means making the product that good that there'd be little point someone replicating it if they couldn't make it somehow better. If you are the go to service then you could create a chargeable accreditation process for those that wish to sell consultancy since you'll never know how much consultancy their selling so perhaps better to monetise consultants being accredited.

@kertof

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commented Oct 11, 2019

Maybe just to clarify, @janober , why don't you want n8n to be Open Source, and what are you hoping to acheive with the Commons Clause?

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commented Oct 11, 2019

@ddevault

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commented Oct 11, 2019

I have written to hacktoberfest in protest. I would be upset if I used their tools to find open source projects to contribute to, just to later find out that they weren't open source at all.

@spenserblack

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commented Oct 11, 2019

Since you seem concerned about people not understanding what "source available" means if you describe n8n as "source available", @janober, what if you made an addition or modification to your FAQ to explain what it means that n8n is "source available"? You could link the most visible uses of the phrase "source available" in your project to a FAQ entry, and possibly explain that many people may mistakenly identify a source available project as open source, but there is a difference.
I think this might be the best way to avoid any confusion you might be concerned about, while describing n8n as source-available instead of "Open Source". Using "Open Source" in quotes is itself somewhat confusing, as a reader may not pick up on your implication that n8n isn't literally open source.

@cyclopsian

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commented Oct 11, 2019

@janober This project depends on many open source libraries to function. Consider if one of the important ones you depend on such as Vue.js actually had a commons clause on their license this whole time. It would not be "OSI open source", and it would not be "wider definition of open source" for you either. It would prevent you from pursuing your business plan in the way you have, which is to sell hosted subscriptions to n8n. So that wider definition can cause many problems for everyone including you. This is why I think it is wrong of you to cite some other incorrect uses of the term "open source".

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commented Oct 11, 2019

I can assure you all that the problem will be solved very soon and I am pretty sure you are gonna be satisfied with the outcome.

@cyclopsian

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commented Oct 11, 2019

Thanks Jan for paying attention to this and not just ignoring the issue.

@janober

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commented Oct 11, 2019

I never ignored the issue. I simply said I will not be part of the discussion until I made a decision on how to proceed and finished my talk with the OSI. I also asked everybody kindly to do the same (sadly not very successfully) as it was not very likely that the sides suddenly start agreeing. Saw more the chance that everything gets worst.

So will update here once there is an update....

@cyclopsian

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commented Oct 11, 2019

What the sides are saying is not important and you know this. They will never agree. This issue is about you picking what side you are on.

@rdrey

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commented Oct 14, 2019

I would love it if n8n used its popularity and attention to promote the "Source Available" terminology. Nothing wrong with being a flagship in the Source Available space. I imagine it being at the top of every "Awesome Source Available" list and still allowed on "Awesome Self-Hosted" and all the other lists it's trying to be on.

@raidho36

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commented Oct 14, 2019

Some lawyer online said that open source licenses are rescindable, because it's not a copyright transfer and only a permission from copyrights holder, and free-takers didn't negotiate a consideration and the license is therefore not a contract, and so the licenser can revoke it at any time for any reason or even no reason. IANAL so I couldn't corroborate or rebuke, but GNU does in fact require that contributions will be made by copyright transfer.

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commented Oct 14, 2019

@raidho36 You are quoting a known troll who has been spamming the LKML with hateful rhetoric for quite some time.

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commented Oct 14, 2019

@cyclopsian Yeah but are the legal arguments true? Cuz you know, law doesn't cares if you got offended in the process or not.

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commented Oct 14, 2019

The only thing I find offensive is the derailing of this thread into unrelated subjects.

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commented Oct 14, 2019

Ability to withdraw open source license from particular parties who didn't pay to use the software is implied to be relevant to @janober.

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commented Oct 14, 2019

There already is a solution that has been pursued, which is the commons clause. You are barking up the wrong tree.

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commented Oct 14, 2019

@cyclopsian it's been thoroughly discussed; Commons Clause disqualifies the software from "open source" title, they state that much on their website, and so does FSF - this point is not for debate. However, since the object is to take fees from businesses using the software, this can be accomplished under plain open source license if the stated legal argument (unpaid OSS licenses are rescindable) is true.

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commented Oct 14, 2019

Retracting the open source license also makes it not open source anymore. This line of discussion is not productive, please don't have it here.

@apotheon

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commented Oct 14, 2019

I myself have no idea at all what the term "source-available" really means and I assume that is the case for most people.

Just for the sake of completeness:

"Source-available" at least means the SOURCE is AVAILABLE. This software clearly meets that minimal requirement.

As already pointed out, there isn't as strict a definition of "source-available" as there is of "open source". As such, I think you should feel free to use it for software whose SOURCE is AVAILABLE.

The term "open source", on the other hand, has a clear definition, known as the Open Source Definition (OSD for short). When in doubt about whether you should call software "open source", refer to the OSD.

Note that the term "open source" may mean different things in different contexts (see "open source intelligence" in the political intelligence and counter-intelligence world, for instance), but in the context of what you may legally do with software it is clearly defined by the OSD. Any use of the term "open source" that does not match that definition is at best confusing and potentially dangerous, legally speaking. It can get much worse than that, in that it can be a malevolent act of deception.

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commented Oct 16, 2019

@ddevault Maybe before trying to get janober removed from Hacktoberfest, you should try to delete the omnimaga forums again

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commented Oct 16, 2019

lol

@grahamPegNetwork

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commented Oct 18, 2019

Well, interesting thread to be sure, I'd like to toss in my two cents here, for whatever it's worth.

  1. I'm a loyal Linux user and love "open" software in general. I occasionally look into licensing issues but couldn't tell you the difference between Apache, MIT, BSD, GPL, etc without referencing a web page on them. I consider myself knowledgeable but not an expert on the topic.

  2. In my general understanding, the biggest things that differ between licenses is on attribution, sub-licensing, and commercial use.

  3. I'm familiar with FOSS. Take the code, do whatever you want with it, make money off it, zero attribution, etc. (I want to say MIT meets that criterion) I have always considered Open Source to mean that the source code is available, and that generally you can do what you want with it, but there may or may not be attribution/commercial limitations depending on the licensing. From the sounds of the discussion, it seems that Open Source is being compared to FOSS.

  4. My understanding here is that @janober is providing the source code for n8n with somewhat restrictive licensing because they wish to have exclusive right to use it for commercial purposes. I can see the value of this in terms of both hosting services, as well as to prevent a giant like M$ from coming in, forking, and massively commercializing it. I'm pretty sure there was a post on the HN frontpage within the last 24 hours talking about how corporations should, but don't, support O.S. projects.

  5. I find the tone out of the gate overly aggressive and IMO, plain hostile. @ddevault . I can understand people being sensitive about supposedly "open" projects in fact having restrictive licensing. Is this very different from Bitwarden? They promote their product as Open Source, but lock some functionality behind centralized licenses. I guess they use AGPLv3, and they can't/won't stop people from forking/using the code, but seriously, demanding a license to use the software on my own server? That ticked me off...I didn't even realize that until after I had it running on my server. At least in this case the FAQ has some info about the license and its restrictions.

  6. I've never heard the term 'Source Available' before. I certainly don't see it being commonly used anytime soon.
    IMHO: Open Source means the source code is free and available to download/use in generally modify for personal use. Anything beyond that can be dictated by licenses. By that line of reasoning, S.A. may be the more "technical" definition of this type of Open Source software. I have also never considered Open Source to mean the same thing as FOSS. FOSS is pure, OS may be but often isn't.

In summary, I think the author here is exploring their options, and they completely have the right to do that. Protect one's commercial rights while still providing free source code and instructions for anyone to use? Cool, I can get behind that. Was I deceived by clicking a HN link that said Open Source Zapier alternative? No. I do hope that going forward the site and licensing does get clarified a bit though.

@janober Have fun exploring licensing options, it's a cool project and I hope you can keep a decent relationship with the Open Source and FOSS communities in the process.

@kfogel

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commented Oct 18, 2019

Hi, @grahamPegNetwork. Historically, the term "FOSS", which stands for "Free and Open Source Software", started being used precisely so people could have a single word to refer to the set of licenses that are simultaneously free software licenses and open source licenses -- basically, a Venn diagram in which the circles overlap almost completely. (I say "almost" only because there is some dispute about whether one or two very rarely-used licenses fit both terms instead of just one; that dispute is academically interesting but has little relevance to actual software distribution today.)

In other words, if one is trying to determine whether "FOSS" refers to the union of free and open source software or the intersection of free and open source software, the answer is "yes" :-), because when two sets are identical (or nearly so), then their union and intersection are also identical (or nearly so).

You may say that you "never considered Open Source to mean the same thing as FOSS", but most of the rest of the software industry does consider them to be the same, at least in terms of the licenses they refer to. Please note that I'm not making an ideological point about the objective meaning of words or something silly like that -- obviously, words don't have inherent meanings; they only have meaning through the way people use them. Instead, I'm making an empirical point about how an overwhelming majority of people in a given field actually use these words in practice. I've already provided citations for this empirical claim, elsewhere in this ticket, and of course it's also easy to verify independently.

When I was young -- but not so young; this lasted in early adulthood -- I thought the English word "helmet" was spelled "helment". I somehow saw the extra "n" whenever I read the word, and whenever I wrote the word I added the "n". When people said the word, I heard the "n" in my ear even though they weren't pronouncing that "n".

Then one day someone noticed and pointed out to me that it was actually "helmet", with no "n". I argued with them for a moment, until they got a dictionary and showed me. Now, modern dictionaries are based on actual usage, of course. As soon as I saw that the dictionary didn't have an entry, not even a variant entry, for my personal, idiosyncratic spelling of the word, I realized I must have been mistaken all that time. There was no reason to think the editors of the dictionary were somehow misreporting the spelling people actually used, after all. If I believe dictionaries in other cases, I should believe them in this case, so I did. I still don't know how I managed to persist in the mistake for so long until that moment -- what can I say, imagination is a powerful thing! So I started saying and writing "helmet", even though it felt wrong and weird to me at first (confession: it still does, but I realize that's my personal problem to get over).

What I am trying to say is that your understanding about a difference between "FOSS" and "open source" is somewhat like my believing "helmet" is really spelled "helment". I say "somewhat" because it's not exactly the same: there are a few other people out there -- a minority, but not zero -- who have acquired an understanding similar to yours. However, if we were compiling a dictionary and we needed to define "FOSS", "free software", and "open source", we would survey software developers and other people with experience in the field, and we would look at the origins of the terms. If we were to do that, we would find a clear majority using the definition I have been using.

I invite you to make an adjustment like the one I made with the word "helmet". It's fine to have one's own personal language, but it gets in the way when one is trying to communicate with others.

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