Mathias Hasselmann

Postings by Mathias on December 22, 2007

No Privacy for FOSS Developers?

Benjamin, thank you for ruining this year's Chrismas days for me. I know, you didn't do this intentionally, but I have really bad days since I am aware of the privacy strip each Free Software developer does due ill-considered "services" like

I don't want anyone to do statistics about FOSS contributions. Those stats make me feel naked. What follows is some longish explaination of my feelings regarding such "services", those not interested should just skip to my proposal.

Also I do not like the stats at, because they draw a very incomplete picture of my FOSS contributions, when you search for my real name. The only way to change this, is registering at, and associate all my shell accounts. I don't want to register at any random web community, just to force them to publish accurate information about me. I don't want this, as it costs my time, and I don't want this, as it restricts my freedom by accepting their terms of use.

What makes people believe they are allowed to do such stats? Simply the fact, that this information is available without much effort? Drastically spoken, it's also not much effort to break into houses, or to commit homicide - does the little effort make this actions legal?

A though argument to counter my fears is "but Google does similiar things for years, and nobdy complains". Really hard to counter, and haven't really found good words yet - so just some sketchy keywords: Websites are public by purpose, and their Google Groups archive is controversial. Actually - when checking for its name - I couldn't even find it anymore from their front page.

I need to resolve this privacy issue for me, as it dominates my thoughts for days now. That dramatically, that I came to insane ideas like revoking any FOSS contribution I ever made, or like starting a service like, that also publishes inaccurate information, but requires monthly fees for correcting information. Yes, those ideas are close to insanity, but maybe they help to understand which harm, services like do to me.

I started contributing to Free Software projects, since I like to improve my tools, since I working on exciting code. I never contributed for turning into a person of public interesst - like services in the style of obviously assume.

Well, enough of whining, let's figure out how to address the problem.

One possibility I see for not getting listed on sites like would be using your copyrights to add a message like this to all of your ChangeLog entries and commit messages:

The information associated with this change shall only be used for
improving and distributing this software. Any other use, like doing
statistics for instance, is not permitted.

I don't know if this works, as I am no laywer. I also agree that it would be quite ridiculous, to have this message assoicated with each commit. Instead I suggest formalizing our AUTHORS files in the spirit of our MAINTAINERS files:

 Mathias Hasselmann
 E-Mail: mathias hasselmann gmx de
 Userid: hasselmm
 License: code-only

Licence would contain a list of permissons:

I hope this post helps my upset brain's to move focus away abit form this topic now - Chrismas days are comming, damnit!

But also I hope for some constructive feedback, without getting flamed to much for my differing opinion regarding sites like

Aren't Tomboy Notebooks redundant?

Boyd, don't you think that notebooks are redundant for an application that got tags already?

(Sorry, for commenting on PGO, but appearently you disabled comments for people without account.)