Petition to replace "free as in beer" with "free as in coffee" to be more accessible to people put off by beer-drinking culture.

Yeah, for real. People with religious reasons for not drinking don't need the micoraggression. Neither do people who live in places where beer is blokey, heteronormative or reminiscent of Brett Kavenaugh. ~Everyone~ is the target audience for FOSS. RMS-era Foss jokes all need to be reevaluated and many of them, including this one, have outlived their usefulness.

Ok, so the issue is that some people, including women and, in many countries, muslims, are marginalised in tech spaces and don't feel welcomed in the foss community.

I know ~you~ don't do this, at least not on purpose, but some of your mates are being really dickish when you're not looking.

At the same time, some items that you enjoy are sometimes weaponised by people you don't like, maybe in ways you don't notice.

(Explainer thread 1/n)

Show thread

So you like beer. It's fun, you can have it with your mates. It's a good time! You love going to a Real Ale pub. But, you know, 'spoons is Brexity, which makes it kinda hostile to migrants and the Campaign for Real ale is striking back against alcopops because they're girly and there's some sexism and unsubtle homophobia lurking under their otherwise good intentions. And then, you know, your muslim colleagues who don't drink aren't really all that welcome.

Show thread

Also, in the states, the phrase "I like beer" is become unfortunately the catch phrase of a[n alleged] rapist.

I had a weird experience when I was like 19 and went for a job interview, below the drinking age in my country and it lasted for HOURS and a lot of much older men kept trying to get me to drink beer. It was not great, to be honest.


Show thread

And the search for a universally applicable replacement, so as to make sure it's something that is appealing for everyone is really annoying me because the context in which the old phrase functioned had specific power structures at play.

As far as I'm aware, people who don't drink coffee do ~not~ face systemic issues in FOSS. We do not need to worry about accidentally repeating for the hundredth time that day that they're not welcome.

What about the cishet christian white men? They're /fine/.

Show thread

I don't want to be a dick, but hearing the ~same thing~ over and over again when it's just a minor thing or just a joke or just a tiny whatever? That's kind of what I'm trying to make a point about here.

I'm sure you all mean well, but this kind of behaviour is exactly the problem. It's not any of you by yourself. It's all of you in aggregate.

Show thread

@celesteh What about food? Free as in free food? That doesn't call out people like me who often can't drink coffee due to medications.

@celesteh free as in coffee impacts Mormons, who are forbidden from caffeine.


I may be way off base here, but I don't think Mormons are systemically excluded from FOSS?

@celesteh not what I was aiming for there sorry. Let me try again. The OP referred to changing the beverage from beer to coffee to avoid excluding people who have prohibitions against alcohol. The point I tried to make was that coffee also had problems due to caffeine, and suggested water or air as a better substitute in the phrase. I wasn't addressing exclusion from FOSS, but rather a problem with the slogan revision.

@celesteh I might be wrong, but isn't a slight negative connotation exactly what we want to convey with "free as in beer" (as opposed to "free as in freedom") ?

@celesteh I have seen "free as in pizza" as a more general-audience stand-in term. It could see wider adoption.

Coffee is still a techbro obsession, though, and not everyone likes it. Can we break the stereotype better? What does everyone love when it's free?

Free as in hugs
Free as in cake
Free as in manure


1. Coffee non-drinkers are not marginalised in tech spaces, as far as I'm aware.

2. Free hugs is uh, wasn't this a massive scandal just like 5 years ago at a convention?

No, not being entirely serious. I missed that scandal, sorry. And coffee is certainly an improvement on beer.

The problem with most of these things is that there's a catch. Free beer... but the entry price is steep and the beer is crap. Free coffee... but we get to sell you timeshare holiday apartments. Free gift... just pay postage. Free hugs... whether you want them or not. Free gems... just watch these ads.

Basically, capitalism has ruined things being free.

@celesteh Fwiw I've never heard anybody say that and _not_ have to immediately explain it again, so no big loss

@celesteh it's more resonant with the conception of hidden costs of 'freeware' than saying free coffee is ig

@celesteh I know a lot of people who eschew coffee because it makes them very jittery, how about tea?

I'm sorry, @celesteh, you're making a serious point here and everyone's jumping in with jokes about free stuff. I must have an atypical tech workplace, in that the coffee-related peer pressure is higher than the beer-related variety (I'm happy to drink either). Coffee is less culturally divisive than beer, but I think cake is even less so.

@celesteh Was always "free as in lunch" when I was being introduced to FOSS culture. Though "free as in coffee,"is equally amenable I'll start using it.

@celesteh I'd take it a step further and say "food", that's what I've defaulted to these days



Ok kinda petty but make it tea since that's something that is globally consumed. Coffee isn't too far behind but tea is really something that's international and there are lots of cultural practices around sharing it.



I feel like it's ~so~ commonly consumed that it will confuse the students, especially as it also means dinner for some of them, but, I regret starting this conversation at all...



Oh shit, I just browsed the rest of the thread. I'm so sorry for piling on.



haha, no worries. Im writing tomorrow morning's lecture and this was a good way to distract me until much too late at night.

Anyway, I have (re) learned all kinds of junk about which way electrons travel in a circuit

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Server run by the main developers of the project 🐘 It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!