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RMS article - "Why hackathons should insist on free software"

by Jeanne Rasata Contributions Published on Sep 12, 2017 12:01 PM

Richard Stallman's latest article, “Why hackathons should insist on free software,” explains how free software, by its very nature, is the only software suited for hackathons.

Like hackathons, free software strengthens community and facilitates cooperation. As long as hackathons do not insist on the use of free software exclusively, the “community spirit they are based on” will be at risk of being subverted. Beside egregious examples of hackathons set up for the benefit of specific companies, there are the seemingly benign cases of developers bringing to hackathons projects they don't explicitly say will be free—a practice that “undermines” the “community spirit.” Hackathons insisting on free software, and thereby insisting on cooperation in exchange for cooperation, is vital to “strengthen[ing] the community spirit they are based on.”

RMS concludes by listing ways in which, “as an individual hackathon participant, you can support this principle [of cooperation]” and by calling on hackathons, and the schools that often host them, to issue to their participants clear directives that support computer users' freedom.

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