Freedom and Data (was Gender, Representativeness and Reputation in StackOverflow)

Chris Angelico rosuav at
Tue Jul 24 06:28:53 CEST 2012

On Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM, rusi <rustompmody at> wrote:
> "How many of you use Linux?" I ask.

The awkwardness is in the definition of the question. Many of the
products that I buy will have, at some point, been carried by a truck,
but I would answer "No" if someone asked me if I use a truck. Would
you say that you "use", say, Windows 2000? Do you even *know* if any
of the web sites you use are built on it? What about Cisco Router,
Model <insert product identifier>? I personally have no idea what
networking hardware my ISPs use, nor should I care.

When I do a Google search, I don't "use" their Linux; I use only the
TCP/IP socket connection. If they were to rip out Linux tomorrow and
put in a perfect replacement that they wrote in-house, I wouldn't know
and, to be honest, wouldn't care. In the same way, they don't care if
I write my own web server; they'll crawl the documents just the same.
Doesn't mean they "use" my custom web server, and certainly doesn't
mean that everyone who does a search that's affected by my content has
"used" that server.

> Their true platform is the Internet.

Indeed it is. Operating system means nothing; IP transmissions mean
everything. Your platform is a TCP socket (or, less commonly, a stream
of UDP or other packets).


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