[57north-discuss] What's wrong with profit?

Robert McWilliam rmcw at allmail.net
Tue Feb 26 10:16:10 GMT 2019

Looking through the recent changes feed for the wiki last night I saw we've now got a page listing other similar organisations. 

Mostly good, and probably a useful list.


One line (about ONE Codebase) really pissed me off:
''This is being run as a for-profit venture with investment from [https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/jun/12/aberdeen-city-garden-project Ian Wood]. It may be best to avoid this one.''

I'm still annoyed about it now, so you get this rant... 

I decided we should discuss this rather than me just changing it - whoever wrote it[0] obviously thought it was fine, I strongly disagree; so we should discuss it to see if there is a way to settle that disagreement.

 My issues with this line:
 - What's wrong with being for-profit?
 - Singling out a previous project from an investor in a project as a reason to avoid it just feels icky to me.
 - Why are we telling people what to do (or what is "best")?

I don't think being for-profit is necessarily a bad thing. Some of my favourite organisations are for-profit (and not all of them are breweries). I don't expect people to provide me with stuff out of the goodness of their heart  - I expect them to be getting something out of it. I'm fine with that something being money. 

Whether an organisation is for-profit or not just tells you something about what circumstances money can leave the organisation, not about whether that organisation is doing "good", or what "good" might be done with money you give them. There's plenty of for-profit organisations I support because I agree with what the people profiting are doing with their profits, and plenty of non-profits where I disagree with what the organisation is doing with the money they get, and plenty more where I don't know[1] what'll be done with any profits. 

Mentioning Ian Wood's involvement (with link to City Garden story) just looks weird. To me it reads as "This person once did something we disapprove of. You should avoid anything else he's involved in." The people involved aren't called out for any of the other organisations listed. Have none of them ever done anything you disapprove of? As far as I know this is the only place where we have a recommendation to boycott anything or anyone. That has an implicit statement about what we care about. Was the City Gardens project really the worst thing done by anyone related to anything mentioned on the wiki? If not (and I'm definitely on the side of not): why is that being called out and nothing else is?

I really don't like that a personal value judgement on the merits of ONE Codebase is included here. If we are going to start  including that kind of judgement of stuff (I'd rather we not) I'd really want it to be discussed so it is actually the judgement of the group and not just one individual. 


[0] I have a fairly short list of suspects for having written it, but I deliberately didn't check that in the edit history to try and keep this about the content rather than being personal. It might not have been who I think it was. 

[1] Or particularly care. I mostly think people should be free to do whatever they want with their money.  Part of that is you are free to not give it ONE Codebase if you don't want to.

Robert McWilliam     rmcw at allmail.net    argh.technology

Long periods of drought are always followed by rain.

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