Proposal: Open Source

As the top voted answer to "Expand name to include both Free Software and Open Source?" has shown, it seems like the community has decided against including Free Software in the site name.

The last sentence of this answer however, also mentions that Free Software should appear in the site description. I agree with this notion, but since it isn't in the site description yet and it hasn't been explicitly voted on yet (because the original question didn't actually ask about the description), I decided it's worth a separate question.

Should Free Software (or at least the term 'Free') appear in the site description and by extension, what should the site description be?

  • For those of us who weren't involved with the proposal, do you mean that you want it to be about "Open Source AND Free Software" or "Open Source OR Free Software"? In other words, is this site only about open source software that's also free or is the site open to closed source software as long as it's free?
    – BSMP
    Jun 11, 2015 at 17:40
  • 1
    @BSMP you raise a good question; I think both Open Source and Free Software are acceptable. Note that here, free does not mean free of cost, but rather free in a philosophical way. Even questions about licences that are not recognised by OSI or FSF could be answered. (That is probably something we'll have to figure out during the beta.)
    – overactor
    Jun 11, 2015 at 19:31
  • Thanks for the clarification.
    – BSMP
    Jun 12, 2015 at 14:23

3 Answers 3


I don't think that including free software in the description is a bad idea. And I don't have time to write out an entire description, but I'm sure that so long as it hits on the point that it's about open source / free software, it should work just fine.


The term "Free Software" is older and still in use. It would confuse people if we didn't include that term in the description.


Q&A site for people organizing, marketing or licensing Free Software and Open Source development projects. 

Omitting "Free Software" would provoke misunderstandings such as "Is a question about my interpretation of Freedom 3 on-topic here?"

Also, for all practical purposes, Open Source and Free Software describe the same set of software licenses. However, historically there have been licenses where FSF and OSI disagreed. Although those where really edge cases and never widely used, each of those would warrant a StackExchange question on its own.


Software provided free of charge should not be included if its source is not available.

Software that is free in that it "gives users the freedom to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, modify, and distribute the original software and the adapted versions" should be included.

I'm not in favour of using the word "free" in the site description unless this distinction can be made very clear. Not everyone finding the site will happen to know this distinction, and we don't want to attract a lot of questions about software that happens to have no cost (or questions about versions of proprietary software that people have managed to obtain at no cost).

Finding a wording that happens to technically make the distinction clear won't necessarily avoid attracting questions from people who only read the word, rather than the sentence. We are going to have off topic questions no matter what we do, but I don't want a site description that makes this worse than it needs to be. I don't believe omitting the word "free" from the site description will prevent people with relevant questions from finding the site.

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