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The Internet

The GnuHoo BooBoo

Matthew Miller has written in to express his concerns over GnuHoo- the web link tracking project that we posted last week. The issue is use of the term 'GNU' in their name- when in fact their project is all proprietary software. Hit the link below to read what Matthew has to say about it. When I saw the site, I assumed the source would be made available: In fact, I wanted to install a copy over here to track the links from old articles. Read the following very carefully. Update GnuHoo has now been redirected to NewHoo. I'm glad to see the Right Thing done. Best of luck to everyone involved with NewHoo.
The following is written by Slashdot Reader Matthew Miller

This is a warning to all supporters of the open source movement -- stay away from the so-called "GnuHoo" web directory discussed on Slashdot a week or so ago!

From the name, and from a quick look, it appears that this is an attempt to create a Yahoo-style web directory only with the content and perhaps the backend software under a GPL-like license. People easily make the assumption that it's even backed by the FSF.

Unfortunately, it's not true. The directory is "free" in the same sense that Yahoo is free -- you don't have to pay to look at it. And yeah, anyone can sign up to contribute work. But, the copyright is owned by the Gnuhoo staff, and there's no open-source-style licensing provisions. In truth, it's not really even "free beer" free, let alone "free speech" free.

When all the confusion is stripped away, what we've got here is a version of The Mining Co. that, instead of paying its editors a tiny portion, attempts to cash in on free labor generated by the current open-source enthusiasm.

When confronted, the GnuHoo staff expressed surprise that anyone would be upset about this -- they argue that "GnuHoo is and will always be a free service", but that they want to be able to make money off of it. Now, I'm not opposed to anyone making money from open-source projects, but that's obviously not what we're talking about here -- this is a proprietary project masquerading as something it's not.

Furthermore, after a quick e-mail to the FSF, I learned that GnuHoo has been asked to stop using the name, or start working with free software. The GnuHoo staff has shown no willingness to do so, saying that the name is very important to the project, and that it was chosen because it conveys the sense of "a free, community effort". That may be, but it certainly conveys a lot of other things -- all of them misleading!

I've got no problems with a non-open project of this type -- it's a good idea. But it's wrong for them to pretend it's something it's not, and to use the GNU name to deceive people.

If people (and I'm sure some would) want to donate their time and effort to a for-profit company, that's fine. But it'd be far better for people to turn their efforts to making a real GNU-style web directory. It's sad to see the amount of enthusiasm wasted here -- people have already contributed hours to something that isn't what they thought (or maybe still think) it is.

I've pointed all this out (in a much less angry-rant-format way than this, I promise) on the GnuHoo mailing list, and so have several others. Without going into much detail (except to say that there was a lot of detail from us and little from the GnuHoo staff) the response was "We don't agree with you. sorry."

So, finally, after a short message requesting that a clear decision be made to change either the name or the license, one of the GnuHoo staff sent me a message saying: "Sigh. Will you please go away?" Well, I suppose I will. And I urge everyone else to come with me.

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The GnuHoo BooBoo

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