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Super Pimps of Free Software

By enterfornone in Internet
Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 02:38:30 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

PAN is a newsreader for GNOME. It is generally regarded as one of the best free GUI newsreaders available. The PAN developers have become well known for faking controversy, their site containing a number of fake news articles such as the RIAA suing over PAN's ability to decode binaries, and Propaganda's Bowie Poag and Enlightenment's Rasterman teaming up to create a PAN theme engine.

But as of their latest release they've come up against some real controversy.

Here is the announcement for the latest release of PAN:

Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 13:27:40 -0800
From: Charles Kerr <charles@superpimp.org>
To: pan-users@rebelbase.com, gnome-announce-list@gnome.org, pan@superpimp.org
Cc: distribution@helixcode.com, cerb@debian.org, jedgar@FreeBSD.org, ieure@sickfuck.org
Subject: Pan 0.9.2 Released
Pan 0.9.2 has been released.
It can be found at http://www.superpimp.org/.

What is Pan

Pan is a multithreaded Usenet newsreader for GTK and GNOME, loosely modeled after the programs Agent and Gravity. It features online and offline reading, automatic article threading, easy decoding of binaries, a rules tool for user-configurable actions, and a task manager for controlling concurrent article reading, group downloads, and attachment decoding.

What's new in 0.9.2

This version adds an option to load groups and articles with a single click, the ability to cancel and supersede posted messages, improvements to the Rule tool and preferences dialog, better handling of mime-encoded headers, rot13 encoding of highlighted text in the message composer, better keyboard navigation, and a slew of bug fixes. Also, despite the RIAA lawsuit, this version is still able to decode binary attachments.

Note the RIAA reference. The lawsuit is fake. Now note who the mail was sent to. Someone on the gnome-announce list questioned why it was necessary to include two somewhat off colour email addresses in the cc list. The superpimp address belongs to the PAN developers, the sickfuck address belongs to the PAN deb maintainer. Obviously these people should be included on the distribution list. It was also pointed out that the home site of PAN is at http://www.superpimp.org/

Now on one hand people who write free software generally care about freedom, so you can argue that they should be able to name their email addresses and web sites as they choose.

But does having such names associated with a piece of free software tarnish the reputation of an otherwise quality product? Is it possible that an over zealous censorware system would block http://www.superpimp.org/, stopping people from downloading an innocent program (if you consider a newsreader an innocent program)?

It has been suggested that the PAN developers should obtain an innocent domain and point it to their web site, removing the superpimp references. Should they, or are people complaining about nothing?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Should the PAN developers obtain a more innocent domain?
o Yes, the word Superpimp offends me 1%
o Yes, Superpimp is hurting their reputation 16%
o Yes, it might get blocked by censorware 11%
o No, people are complaining about nothing 38%
o No, free speech, fight the power, etc. 32%

Votes: 126
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o the RIAA suing over PAN's ability to decode binaries
o Propaganda
o Enlightenm ent
o Rasterman
o PAN theme engine
o http://www .superpimp.org/
o Also by enterfornone

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Super Pimps of Free Software | 42 comments (34 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
More people should discriminate (4.11 / 9) (#2)
by Demona on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:21:11 AM EST

on both sides of the fence. Not only should consumers, prosumers, whatever, exercise good judgment in deciding what to buy (or just use, in the case of free software), but more creators, authors, owners, etc., should be willing to lose a few customers. As someone who's gotten screwed on both sides of said fence, few things make me prouder than a store owner calmly, rationally standing up to an abusive or ignorant customer, and who has the moral fiber to state that no, the customer is not always right, and if you don't like it you're perfectly free to take your business elsewhere. And to tie it back to the topic, the day they remove all those vulgarities from the Linux kernel comments will truly be the day that the free software community has decided they value image over substance, appearance over truth, and convenience over freedom.

No, it's not always right to do something just because you can. But people who are so bothered by the presence of those words (in a form where few are ever likely to see them, no less), not to mention a domain name that someone else has chosen and nobody is forcing them to type into their web browser, are not generally the kind of people that free software developers would *want* as users of their wares. Especially since they're not being financially compensated -- literally, if you don't use my software, it's "no skin off my ass." -dj

thinks swearing is a fascinating field of linguistic and cultural study, but is also used far too often these days because people are intellectually lazy. Used to excess, the words are somewhat deprived of their power. Good because they should not have a special "mystique" or allure of the forbidden -- after all, the sky doesn't open and lightning strike you for speaking or writing -- but bad because it can rob them of what makes them special, it contributes to the decline of social discourse in general, and encourages limited vocabularies.

Regarding the last paragraph (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by Khedak on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 10:24:49 PM EST

There's no evidence that any of that is true, or rather, that's all your subjective judgment. Linguistically, all human dialects are equally capable of expressing human thought, no language or dialect is 'superior' to another. You might be offended by the vocabulary, but that doesn't make it inferior.

You said that using offensive language represents a 'decline in social discourse', but that's simply a cultural bias. Put simply, the opinion that "intellectually lazy" people choose to use swearing more often than other types of people is unsupported by evidence. There are shitloads of very smart fucks who swear all the fucking time, and there are also very dum peeple who are also very polight, to.

[ Parent ]
What you're really arguing about... (4.00 / 3) (#3)
by inspire on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:32:21 AM EST

is "professionalism" in open source software - should OSS developers, who are not paid a cent for their work, be bound to the same standards of professionalism as, say, someone working for Microsoft?

This really comes down to a subjective thing - if the PAN team feels strongly about their domain, then who are we to tell them otherwise? We do not pay them for their software and should expect to get what we pay for.

On the flip side, this sort of thing tends to reflect on the OSS community as a whole - inevitably people will see the PAN team as representative of the entire OSS community. To that I say, "fuck them" - if they are so lazy as not to discriminate between a particular project and the entire community, then they don't understand what the whole movement is all about, and they are not likely to be using the software anyway.

This is a relevant link - the people at ArsDigita say what they feel is appropriate "professionalism" in the software industry.
What is the helix?

Is professionalism about being paid? (none / 0) (#15)
by ambrosen on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 07:14:11 AM EST

[what you're arguing about] is "professionalism" in open source software - should OSS developers, who are not paid a cent for their work, be bound to the same standards of professionalism as, say, someone working for Microsoft?
Yes, if they want to produce quality software, then they should probably be avoiding too much distraction from the product. I consider that kind of naming something that would certainly distract me.

Sure, they don't owe me anything and they can make whatever software they want, but I don't really think that they'd necessarily want to put people off using their software just because of some easily changed name. However, they have given me the option of doing something about it myself, which is the real liberty of OSS.

Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]

"professionalism" in oss. (none / 0) (#32)
by mindstrm on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 02:13:09 AM EST

Though one can argue endlessly that anyone who is associated with free software will have their actions associated also with free software is pointess.

The issue poeple must get their heads around (and this applies to *so* much more than just free software), is that just because the media called it a 'movement', and somehow there is a percieved 'grouping' by the masses that all free software projects are in the same 'free software' movement... does not mean we are. If everyone does what the masses expect them to do based on naieve or shallow perceptions, then we start to conform to those perceptions.

Yes, that's long winded. The short version is:

Just because you think we're brothers and working towards the same goal doesn't mean we are.

[ Parent ]
I hope my mom doesn't know what it stands for :-) (3.00 / 4) (#4)
by MoxFulder on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:35:24 AM EST

First off, Pan is by far the greatest newsreader I have ever used ... I love its features! I'd like to say thanks to the authors for creating such an easy to use and effective program.

Nonetheless, I hope that they stick to using the abbreviated form of the name and gradually phase out the "Pimp-Ass-Newreader" name ... kind of like the Oakland Athletics becoming just the A's :-) Although they certainly have a right to name their program whatever they want, a potentially vulgar or offensive name might hurt its prospects in the long run. Pan is a professional and well-designed piece of software, and it would be a pity if some major company or major Linux distro decided not to use it just because it has a slightly obscene name.

When Linux gets to the point that my mom can use it, she won't want to use the Pimp Ass Newsreader, I'm sure ... but I think she'll like using Pan ...

"If good things lasted forever, would we realize how special they are?"
--Calvin and Hobbes

And the Best NES emulater was... (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by delmoi on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:52:39 AM EST

As far as I'm consourned, you guys are lucky. Back in the day (a few years ago), the best NES emulater out there was called... "NESticle", yup NESticle, like testicle. The Icon was a pair of harry balls. It was terrible.

Thankfully it's been surpased by NEStine and some others. So now can show cute girls the power of emulation.

I really don't think calling something 'pimp-ass' is very bad/offensive, geez.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
PAN = Pimp Ass Newsreader (4.80 / 5) (#6)
by John Big Boots on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:53:08 AM EST

If the offended people have their way, then PAN will have to be renamed something politically correct. Unless, of course, "Pimp Ass" is considerably less offensive than superpimp.org.

If memory serves, earlier versions of PAN released with Helix Gnome came with a "help_help_i'm_being_repressed.patch" which changed the help-about caption from "A Pimp Ass Newsreader" to "A Newsreader for Gnome". Subsequent versions have used the later caption, making the patch unecessary. So, as you can see they have made a few concesions to "decency".

The email thing shouldn't be a big deal. If people start getting snooty about superpimp.org and sickfuck.org, then the Gnome Foundation and the Debian group should provide email accounts with gnome.org and debian.org suffixes respectively. They wouldn't be as much fun to use, but email forwarding is pretty trivial to set up and if the complainers stop grumbling, then it's probably worth the effort.

Personally, I don't think there's anything that can or should be done about the offensive names. PAN is copyrighted by the Pan Development Group, not the FSF or the Gnome Foundation. Persumably, the group is the registrar for superpimp.org as well. If their reputation is a stake, then the Gnome Foundation can always remove the program from it's CVS tree. PAN can always be downloaded from the superpimp.org homepage.

PAN... (1.75 / 8) (#7)
by DeadBaby on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:59:44 AM EST

Doesn't even come close to Agent on Win32 which has been released now for many years.

Free software is great and all but it's hard to justify using it when you can spend a few bucks and get a much better product. (or just use the free version of Agent which does pretty much everything you could need)

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
GPL License (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by jesterzog on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:51:12 AM EST

Well PAN's gpl'd, so technically anyone who doesn't like the name or contents can simply alter it and re-release it with a different name and different about dialog boxes. (Albeit also under GPL.) I guess it takes someone to actually do that in the end, and that's potentially a problem. Particularly when potential customers don't know it's possible to just change it like that.

You might be arguing that simply having this sort of attitude associated with free software in general is bad. I'm not sure if it really is any less present in commercial software, but I suppose it is less visible given the big companies that people see most of usually don't do this sort of thing.

jesterzog Fight the light

but... (2.66 / 3) (#14)
by sugarman on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 07:01:57 AM EST

you have to redistribute it with the original source code, correct? So this would include all the original comments and off-color humor that would be ignored by the compiler, but are still a part of the code per se?

If the above is the case, I can see where it might be an issue, especially in an educational setting. There are some OSS I wouldn't want to try to explain to the PTA.

But as it stands, I could use some clarification on the issue. Does the GPL force all the comments to be included, or can I simply strip those out and still call it [foo]?
[ Parent ]

GPL "force" (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:55:08 AM EST

Well, no, it doesn't force you to do anything with the comments. You can remove all the comments. Hell, you can remove all the code and replace it with something to print "wimpledywoowoowoo" thirty thousand times on all local printers, delete the kernel, break the boot and root partitions, and crash the machine, and still distribute it. I think the PAN name itself might be protected, though.

So do whatever you want with the comments, or the code. That's what the GPL is all about.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

GPL (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by Ryan Koppenhaver on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:01:29 PM EST

No, the GPL doesn't force you to redistribute the original source code. It forces you to distribute the source to any executable of the GPL'ed program or derived program, that you distribute. In other words, you only have to distribute the original source if you're distributing the original program. If you modify the source, and distribute the resulting executable, you need to make the modified source available.

I don't believe the GPL has any language regarding comments, but since you can modify the program at will, and stripping comments won't alter the executable, there's no reason you can't strip comments, recompile, and distribute, AFAIK.

[ Parent ]
No... explanation. (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by mindstrm on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 02:16:07 AM EST

You are free to modify the original source in any way you wish, as long as the result is released under the conditions of the GPL.

Nothing in the GPL ever requires you to republish comments. If you distribute binaries, you must (blah blah) make source available that will produce those binaries (and be readable.. yadda yadda yadda etc..).

[ Parent ]
Shiny Wrapper (3.80 / 5) (#13)
by Helmholtz on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 06:13:14 AM EST

Personally if a site like superpimp.org gets blocked because of censorware then that's simply yet another sterling example of how censorware doesn't work.

As far as people not knowing about Pan because they've been "blocked" from seeing it, I don't think the solution is to coddle to the masses. Saying, "awww ... you guys are scared of our name ... here, we'll change for you because we want you acceptance", is beyond disgusting in my opinion. If somebody won't use Pan because of the site name, bully for them. Personally I'd like to see more site names like superpimp.org and freshmeat.net (the IT Admin at work called me on the latter the other day ... he was pretty cool about it, just wandered up and said a flag had been thrown by a site I had gone to that was called freshmeat. I laughed, and pulled the page up for him. He stared at it for a minute, said "oh, I see" and wandered off more confused than before).

In many respects this reminds me of the nonsensical ranting that circled around the Linux Journal's "Naked Man" supplement. It was a little supplement about Python, I believe, and it pictured a man supposedly naked (well he was wearing a tie, iirc) sitting at a piano in the middle of a lush field. I thought the cover was intriguing and made me want to look inside to see what the supplement was really about.

You wouldn't believe the rebuke Linux Journal received over that. It bothers me, because next time an intriguing and original cover idea comes accross the desk the initial thought is going to be "Are we going to get fussed at with this one like we did with the other one", and the cover may be passed over for one that is less original but also less likely to cause bad press.

Well, I guess I've ranted enough for today. Thanks for listening. :)

...everybody's pinned ya baby, but nobody cares ...

naked man (none / 0) (#34)
by h2odragon on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 03:59:15 AM EST

IIRC it was done as homage to a similar Monty Python skit.

[ Parent ]
Monty Python's Naked Man (none / 0) (#36)
by swf on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 08:34:11 AM EST

A lot of what I have seen in Python is a tribute to Monty Python (e.g. the Python Tutoral). Naked Man was a recurring gag in Monty Pythons Flying Circus. It got a laugh back in 1970 and I still get a chuckle when I see it today. But I guess times have changed since then...


[ Parent ]
Decency (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by Mandos on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 09:25:55 AM EST

I have to say one thing, and that is that some of us do live with other people skeptical of technology and very big on taste and propriety. Now what if we want to introduce such people to technology through our linux boxes? I think that juvenile vulgarity would be a turnoff to some people, a turnoff to potential business users, etc, etc, etc. We really do have to worry about taste.

`o Mandos `o tyrannos tôn 'exoterikôn

Not quite (none / 0) (#27)
by trhurler on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 07:56:47 PM EST

Maybe YOU have to worry about taste. I personally could care less who uses free software unless that who is me. If my boss wants to use Windows, or my mom does, this is a personal decision that I don't care about. It only matters to people who are religious fanatics about free software, and those people are cretins anyway. Notice that the absolute best free software(the Linux kernel, but not the userland from GNU, the BSD system, etc,) is written by people with very pragmatic viewpoints, whereas the very worst free software(enlightenment, etc) is written by fanatical wackjobs.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
There are several scenarios (none / 0) (#38)
by Mandos on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 09:56:44 AM EST

For instance, what if I am using my machine as a home web server, as some of my friends do? Should I buy a second computer?

BTW, an operating system doth not long survive unless it also has a Stupid User Base. This is the General Theory of Operating System Survival. OSs die over the long term unless they have Stupid Users using them as well. This is, of course, off topic.

`o Mandos `o tyrannos tôn 'exoterikôn
[ Parent ]

Could be :) (none / 0) (#30)
by enterfornone on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:25:55 PM EST

I really thought nothing of the name until I saw the discussion on gnome-announce. gnome-announce has since been made moderated as there has always been a problem of people posting discussion to it.

If you think I made this up you can probably check out the archives somewhere.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Their choice, but... (4.25 / 4) (#22)
by sharding on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:24:10 PM EST

I think it's juvenile and certainly will prevent some subset of Internet users from trying the product. Just like BitchX (and probably several other programs). BitchX is a good program, and I'm sure PAN is nice too. The names of the programs obviously have no real effect on the quality of the software. But I don't see how they add any real value, and I think they can detract. It took me a long time to try BitchX just because the name was an annoyance. Am I offended by it? Not particularly. But I'm definitely likely to take a program called "BitchX" or "Pimp Ass Newsreader" less seriously than one with a less juvenile name.

They can do whatever they want, but they seem to be intentionally limiting their audience.

Don't forget "The GIMP" (none / 0) (#23)
by ramses0 on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:39:01 PM EST

Raise your hand if you've seen pulp fiction. Even if you haven't, it's still not a very PC term to use.

[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]

There's something else... (none / 0) (#24)
by Mandos on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:52:05 PM EST

I believe that The GIMP could conceivably be named after a type of children's plastic twine--anyone ever seen people braid that stuff? I think you can get it at those toy/curiosity/learning stores for kids. I haven't seen Pulp Fiction. But many people haven't. I don't think that The GIMP is as offensive as the other two. Isn't the GIMP older than Pulp Fiction, anyway? Correct me if I'm wrong.

`o Mandos `o tyrannos tôn 'exoterikôn
[ Parent ]

Not from "Pulp Fiction" (none / 0) (#29)
by bjrubble on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 10:28:50 PM EST

The word "gimp" predates both. I consider it fairly offensive -- it's the nastiest thing I can think of to call someone with a physical disability, and you're making fun of something beyond their control and surely a source of suffering. But considering the other meanings of the word -- the colloqial isn't even in my crapola dictionary -- and the fact that the program is capitalized and obviously an acronym, it doesn't bother me too much.

[ Parent ]
Ah! (none / 0) (#37)
by Mandos on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 09:53:14 AM EST

I didn't actually know what "gimp" means in its offensive sense. I suspect many others do not either.

`o Mandos `o tyrannos tôn 'exoterikôn
[ Parent ]

Really? (none / 0) (#40)
by sharding on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 01:22:36 PM EST

Perhaps it's a cultural or geographical difference. I think it would be hard to find someone around here who didn't have at least some idea of what it means. It's not as if I hear people using it regularly, but it's not obscure either.

[ Parent ]
what he said, and... (none / 0) (#25)
by Potatoswatter on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 02:19:35 PM EST

GIMP is also a clever acronym (Graphic Image Manipulation Program). Muchos bonus points.

myQuotient = myDividend/*myDivisorPtr; For multiple languages in the same function, see Upper/Mute in my diary! */;
[ Parent ]
Just to be pedantic... (none / 0) (#35)
by a clockwork llama on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 05:21:50 AM EST

...it actually stands for the GNU Image Manipulation Program. Most images are graphic images, no?

[ Parent ]
just to respond to a rhetorical question... (none / 0) (#39)
by Potatoswatter on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 12:25:29 PM EST

acronyms can be redundant if they're clever. Yer right a'course.

myQuotient = myDividend/*myDivisorPtr; For multiple languages in the same function, see Upper/Mute in my diary! */;
[ Parent ]
Well.. (none / 0) (#31)
by mindstrm on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 02:07:35 AM EST

If the poeple who are actively working on the project are the ones using such 'objectionable' domains and such in their correspondence.... that's *their own* problem to sort out. Nobody outside the project has any reason to complain about 'tarnishing' the project....

Or am I missing something?

Fuck em (1.00 / 1) (#41)
by rabbit on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 03:08:20 AM EST

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
-- I have desires that are not in accord with the status quo.
Stupid acronyms and puerile language... (none / 0) (#42)
by PenguinWrangler on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:52:21 AM EST

...represent nails in the coffin of Linux/Open Source/Free Software/Whatever.
People look at all these stupid acronyms (anything to do with Gnu, for a start) and the puerility of stuff like this and go "Oh, those zany people. How can we trust something with such a dumb/offensive name?"
Or words to that effect.

"Information wants to be paid"
Super Pimps of Free Software | 42 comments (34 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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