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Marco Marongiu [opinions]

Don't listen to the deaf, Tony [free-software-magazine] [pdf] [donations]

Issue 16 of FSM came out a few days ago. The PDF version went out as well, but... out of the window! A lot of people, including myself, cried and asked for it to come back.

I am now writing this open letter to Tony, asking him to just discard many of the requests that wanted the PDF back.

Dear Tony

I was puzzled when you announced that we won't have PDF issues anymore. Many others felt the same. Probably your editorial didn't help me and other people to realize what was under the hood.

Until you finally wrote your explanatory blog entry. You had nothing against the PDF format "per se", but:

Basically, we cannot afford (either time or money) to continue producing PDFs. This decision wasn't sudden - we kept working on the PDF versions as long as we could. However, given the circumstances, I must say that the decision is final.

At that point, I thought the thing was clear: producing PDFs requires time; putting the PDFs on the website available to download requires bandwidth; time and bandwidth require money; there wasn't enough money for the PDF to be produced.

Once upon a time I was a mathematician, but that's a pretty easy equation, isn't it?

So I commented in your blog:

You may have noticed from the start that FSM is different from many magazines that are around on the web. It's different also in its way of asking for your help: it doesn't need 50$/year subscribers, it needs happy readers that want to help it as much as they can: if you can give just 10$/year, do it; if you can give 100$/year, do the same. If you can contribute great articles, also consider doing that straight away.

Six days have passed. Did you get any donations? No, you said. But you got a number of other "give me back the PDFs or I'll stop reading your mag" instead.

In Italy, as you know, we have a proverb that roughly says "the worst deaf person is the one who doesn't want to listen"; you may have it in English as well, but it's not important now.

Tony, just discard them all and go right ahead. You explained the problem, you asked for help, you got nothing. You don't need baby readers that cry and beat their feet on the floor because you took their toy away... That wasn't actually their toy.

In my personal opinion, there are just two ways to bring the PDFs back. The first, as said, is receiving donations. The other would be to have people who take the source of each issue and your code, and volunteer to make the PDF. If none of these options are doable, just don't listen to the deaf men and go ahead. FSM is and will be a great magazine as long as you and the other staff keep up the good work.

Con affetto e stima



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