Youre killing FOSS! Ahhhh. Can anyone do that? really? Are we not responsible for our own actions?

A slightly different approach today and I hope you can relate to some of the issues I cover here.  I am looking at a claim thats usually made against many outspoken people in FOSS, but often you see it when there is no counter in an debate/argument.  When I first started writing this article little did I know I would get my own example of “killing the FOSS” directed at me and it was a sweet surprise in the middle of a rather vulgar tirade by the person concerned (more on that later) Without further ado lets look at some of the people who have been accused of “Killing the foss!!!!!!!”

From my own surfing and experiences I would say Richard Stallman & Roy Schestowitz are two of the known voices in the FOSS world who have both had that allegation thrown at them. So lets look at this for a minute, is there any one person so important on the Net that everyone sees them as the guiding light of FOSS?  (or indeed any software) I’d say no and the implication that the remarks of any one person could have a detrimental effect on an entire community is simply rubbish.  I always thought we took responsibility for our own actions and views.  If people choose to agree/disagree it doesn’t really matter, the point is the responsibility is ours. If RMS was to say that the face on Mars was actually Steve Ballmer and that was conclusive proof that Microsoft wants to take over the world, would that effect FOSS in anyway?  Would, as a result of that people leave the FOSS world in droves because of such a silly remark?  Of course not, all that would happen would be RMS would probably not be taken seriously ever again. When Steve Ballmer made the cancer remark, did people leave the Windows platform in droves in disgust?  What about when he called Google a house of cards?  Silly statements (IMO)  like that did nothing detrimental to Windows/Microsoft other than get re-quoted every time Microsoft claims to want to be friends with FOSS. The “killing the foss” or similar statements are IMO not only silly but the final act of the desperate.  No persons actions on the Net would cause damage to an entire ethos/community/software, otherwise the terrible e-crimes which we see documented that were facilitated by users of Windows would mean Microsoft would have a lot less users.  Its the individual persons views/actions NOT the communities or software itself to blame.

I thought we lived in a world were people should take responsibility for their own actions, I thought we lived in a world were we formed opinion and made decisions from multiple sources of information not just one. I covered the Jono Bacon interview of Roy a while back and whilst Jono was quoting commenters who had issue with Roy’s work, he also (IMO) made the implication/suggestion that Roy’s work was detrimental to FOSS.  I’m sure Roy would agree that he does not have that much power (although Jono was unintentionally paying Roy a compliment I think) Looking at another example, Mark Shuttleworth was recently held to task over some comments he made and once again out of the woodwork came the “killing the FOSS” type comments.  Again, complete rubbish.  Mr Shuttleworth is responsible for his own words and its up to him to either justify, clarify or apologize for them. Its now that I move onto a rather more distasteful part of this article (and in the interests of keeping this readable, have cut much from the original since recent events to me prove a far more valuable point)

Jo Shields is a name I would consider quite well known within the FOSS world.  His promotion of Mono has him both supporters and detractors.  Buts lets say for a moment that only in the last week I had picked up my first Linux disk and was currently experimenting with it. I recently engaged Jo in conversation as he had either been watching/had someone report or been examining the logs of Boycott Novell IRC chat.  You are welcome to visit my Twitter account and see the whole conversation, however it started after I took a screen grab of a comment where Jo had said a comment about MS likely to start a little bit of a battle and was possibly poorly thought out due to the feeling of distrust by some of Microsoft.  This started a discussion between the two of us and whoever was “in the right” for me became academic when I received this (letters have been hashed out by me for decency reasons and to put it in context, the apology he mentioned is where I asked him to apologize for claiming I said something and then linking to it where it clearly shows I didnt. )

hah, f#ck that. I have NEVER done ANYTHING to you worth an apology, up to and including this: you are a c#nt and a blight on FOSS

So Im a blight?  and he is?  Not wishing to dwell on that, he still is mentioning the C word whilst talking to another user even at time of writing this.

Does this behaviour have Jo Shields damaging FOSS?  I wouldn’t think so.  Jo is responsible for that tirade and it will be up to him to justify it every time its brought up as an example of rather poor behaviour.   Jo seems to think either a/ I am not serious or b/ there is no legislation to cover this type of action.  Here for you, the readers, is the legislation which I believe is most relevant to the message Jo sent to me:

SECTION 127(1)(b) and (3) of the Communications Act 2003

On *DATE* at *LOCATION* caused to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network:

(A) a message

(B) matter, namely *SPECIFY*

that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.

I’ll leave you the reader to consider if the message falls into that category or not, however Jo (who unless I am mistaken does not have a job involving criminal law) seems to think it doesn’t as he said in a recent message:

even the ambulance chasers who advertise on Jeremy Kyle wouldn’t take up a case like that

Jo’s opinion on UK criminal law is all academic though and not really of further relevance to this article, so I will move on.  Mr Shields also states when telling another user about the aforementioned C word post:

oh, yes, I called @_goblin a c#nt on Twitter. References to the Communications Act would be laughable if they weren’t so sad

and now that Jo Shields has had a little education into the Communications Act 2003 legislation let see if he agrees that maybe an apology is in order not only for the vulgar tirade, but the false claims he made about me.

Regardless of what happens and regardless of who anyone agrees with, in my opinion vulgarity like this do not put the attitude of Mr Shields in a very good light.  Its strange he said what he did publically since he seems very concerned with his public image by stating to me that he checked the BN IRC logs for lies about him.


The purpose of a blog/personal site, is to present ones opinions.  There is no one person which so much sway that they could damage anything.  Damaging FOSS would be to introduce legislation making it illegal.  Damaging FOSS would be only sell computers that ran proprietary software..these are actions and actions with (far fetched but obvious results)  There are those who will make inappropriate comments in favour of Linux and against it, there are those who will make statements that cause offence/upset, the only damage being done is to the person saying them, not the community in which they are a part of.

I had many other examples of “killing the foss” and I have been snapshoting comments since I said I would quote Jo a few weeks ago, thats really now out of the Window (no pun intended) as I think that it needs to be highlighted the behaviour of some people when at the end of the day we are talking about software (last time I checked it was hardly on the same scale as world hunger)

I think next time Roy Schestowitz receives an attack or a libelous claim, I may throw reference to the Jo Shields incident and a quote (yes I do like them) springs to mind (from the Gospel of St Mathew) :

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again

Food for thought I hope next time you hear the words “Ahhhhhh Your killing FOSS!”.   If, as Jo Shields suggested to me that Boycott Novell is a “factory of lies” what does that make Jo and his opinions?  Whoever you agree with, whoever’s work you follow I would like to think that most reasonable people would consider Jo’s words vulgar, obscene and wholly inappropriate.   Ive never seen Roy Schestowitz, Richard Stallman, Mark Shuttleworth or anyone else known in the FOSS world behave like Jo Shields has.

You can visit Jo Shields on Twitter here.

He also has a website here:

Goblin –