[Freedombox-discuss] New website is live!

hjenkins hjenkins at uvic.ca
Sun Feb 16 15:30:03 GMT 2020

The website is indeed solidly the better for the improvements listed, 
and my thanks to everyone who worked on it. The main issue I'd raise is 
a fuzzy look-and-feel one, which has faded the longer I look at the 

The website looks like too much like an advert for a new product from 
one of the monopolistic data brokers, or a company that wants to sell 
themselves to the same.

Even on this list, some have had the impression that FreedomBox could be 
so sold 
Not sure what the marketing jargon is for making it clear that you != 
your competitor. The differences are genuine, so we should be able to do 
hard facts (we could link some from "under your control").

I think more hard facts would improve the webpage. Feel-good terms 
without a concrete meaning, like "building a movement", "pioneer", 
"community", and "soul", are often used in astroturfing. "Your data 
stays with you" could be the sort of doublespeak often used by dodgy 
spyware. The target of the "Foundation" link (confusingly titled "About 
FreedomBox") does say what motivated the project, but does not say 
anything that a company trying for an Android-style power structure 
couldn't say. "Vision" is better, if shorter. The homepage bit on Debian 
is easy to skim over, as it is grey; I repeatedly missed it.

I am not arguing that all non-concrete statements should be removed. I 
*support* language like "building a movement". Presenting FreedomBox as 
part of a social movement is honest. I suspect ~all potential FreedomBox 
users see it as such (feel free to disagree). It appeals, too; the 
"truth initiative" anti-smoking campaign switched from providing facts, 
and portraying the tobacco industry as deceptive, to promoting a social 
movement to end smoking in this generation, because they found this 
appealed more to Millennials/GenZ.

I am arguing for more concrete statements. I understand that we need to 
be careful about saying things with legal meaning, but surely there are 
things we can say that our competitors can't. For instance, the webpage 
could be conspicuously upfront and transparent about its governance 
structure, where its money comes from, what software licenses it uses, 
and the optional nature of buying its hardware.

The reason I say this:

I was part of a LUG that occasionally gave away boot CDs/USBs, literally 
to anyone we could find. Passers-by, mostly, though I found small 
shopkeepers during offpeak hours more receptive (they have time on their 
hands, and significant software costs). Our main obstacle was disbelief; 
people assumed that there was a catch somewhere. I mean, you are 
''giving'' them an operating system? And it's not spyware? Many wouldn't 
even engage.

It helped to identify ourselves as a political activism group (for 
instance, by setting up a table near the local government building, in 
the standard space used by protestors, and making our signage look like 
a political campaign rather than a promotional one). It really helped to 
identify ourselves as *volunteers*, and to explain that open-source 
software is written by volunteers (and what the volunteers get is 
software, way better than they could write outside a co-operative 

Pointing out that we were promoting democratic software, software 
controlled by its users, also helped. Everyone likes democracy, 
especially when contrasted with, say, the procedures used to amend 
Facebook's privacy policy.

Being entirely honest about Ubuntu's interest in giving us some of the 
CDs, and making it clear that I did not represent Ubuntu or even use it, 
also helped. If I'd been paid by them, I could not have been so frank 
about Ubuntu's advantages and drawbacks, and people notice that. Making 
our costs and funding sources clear also helped. Some people's estimates 
of the production cost of a boot CD were off by two orders of magnitude.

Awareness of open-source has sort-of improved over the years. People 
have heard of Linux (if not Debian), and open-source. But asked for an 
example, they give Android. It's almost more difficult trying to 
persuade some people that most open-source software doesn't creepingly 
demand more and more access to their personal data.

Apologies for letting this reply languish so long in my drafts folder.

On 2020-01-16 22:16, Joseph Nuthalapati wrote:
> The official website of the FreedomBox project has been relaunched with
> a new design. This is the first major redesign of the website since the
> initial launch.
> Please check out the new website at https://freedombox.org and tell us
> about your experience.
> Improvements
> -   The new website has a mobile-friendly design. It renders well on
>     various screen sizes.
> -   The home page has an improved narrative about FreedomBox.
> -   The home page is designed to give the look of a single-page 
> website.
>     However, it has links to other pages which have more detail.
> -   In addition to the download listing page, now there are dedicated
>     pages for each image download.
> -   Only Stable and Testing images are offered for download. Nightly 
> and
>     oldstable images are moved to a "more download options" section.
> -   Footer serves as a site map and also has a comprehensive list of
>     external links.
> Contributors
> -   Alice Kile
> -   Danny Haidar
> -   James Valleroy
> -   Joseph Nuthalapati
> -   Robert Martinez
> -   Sunil Mohan Adapa
> -   Tim Simpkin
> The new website will go through some more refinement over the next few
> weeks. Please help us improve the website with your feedback and
> contributions.
> Links
> 1.  Website
>     https://freedombox.org
> 2.  Source code
>     https://salsa.debian.org/freedombox-team/freedombox.org
> --
> Regards,
> Joseph Nuthalapati
> _______________________________________________
> Freedombox-discuss mailing list
> Freedombox-discuss at alioth-lists.debian.net
> https://alioth-lists.debian.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/freedombox-discuss

More information about the Freedombox-discuss mailing list