RMS's epic 22 page tour rider

No mention of brown M&Ms, or of spider-plants.

I think this must be a quite helpful document, because anyone who reads even the first quarter of it will know exactly what they're in for.

Don't stop reading before you've gotten to the part about codecs! And parrots. And crossing the street.

And, this already exists: The Stallman Dialogs. Oh, Internet. Is there nothing you cannot provide?

Friendly conference organizer: Mr. Stallman, I'm so sorry, we're running about 15 minutes behind schedule.
Stallman: When you need to tell me about a problem in a plan, please do not start with a long apology.
Friendly conference organizer: Oh. Well, it's just that, I know your time is very important and I...Sorry.
Stallman: That is unbearably boring, and unnecessary -- conveying useful information is helpful and good, and why apologize for that?
Friendly conference organizer: ...
Stallman: If it is night, and the stars are beautiful, I hesitate to say so, lest my hosts feel obligated to try to get one for me.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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44 Responses:

  1. David M.A. says:

    Is it strange that I find the line about stars rather poetically beautiful?

  2. Shawn says:

    He sounds busy.

    He might have more time in his day if he used web browsers, instead of using SSH to connect to the ports and parse web pages by hand.

  3. antabakaYT says:

    That is... epic.

    I don't think even the Rolling Stones' concert waiver is that complicated and thorough.

  4. NotTheBuddha says:

    I hadn't seen him call himself Dr before. Anyone know where he would have gotten an actual doctorate in addition to his zillion honoraries?

    • For the troll answer, it's quite obvious that rms thinks that spam offering genuine university degrees are about freedom and uses his hard earned speaking monies to buy several a month.

      For the non-troll answer, who the fuck knows. Maya Angelou does the same thing (it's been said she gets real pissy when people don't use it). Perhaps, he too, knows why the caged bird sings.

  5. Angus MacAskill says:

    I do not eat breakfast. Please do not ask me any questions about
    what I will do breakfast. Please just do not bring it up.

    This document is a work of beauty.

    • Imagine, for a moment, that every one of those detailed rules relates to trying to head off some sort of actual problem that's happened in the past. Someone probably did buy a parrot. Perhaps he's spent a month telling different people that he has heard of your "breakfast", he has no use for it.

      • Elusis says:

        Honestly, reading this, I feel a certain sympathy. Teaching graduate students online, I've seen one of my courses explode into a flurry of nearly 50 handouts as I try to head off every single dumbassed thing they can possibly do in terms of misunderstanding directions, cutting corners, violating academic honesty policies, and haring off in entirely the wrong direction, without being able to just stand in front of a class and say "is anybody confused about anything right now? Anyone? Bueller?" And my interaction with people's quirks is probably several orders of magnitude less than his.

        • jwz says:

          And yet, a lot of people -- even people who travel around giving tech talks for a living -- manage to muddle through with somewhat under 22 pages. So there's that.

          • Jeremy Wilson says:

            Well, those people are forced to deal with unwanted breakfasts and parrots! Who's laughing now?

          • Ivan Vazquez says:

            While I don't feel like trying to force rank Stallman amongst people like Nikola Tesla and Howard Hughes (on the Greatness or Oddness axes), I do think it's worthwhile to remember how curious some of their habits and needs were as well.

            The rider is fascinating, but it is a statement of what Stallman needs to make his life work expressed in his detail-obsessed, incredibly thorough, and very particular style.

            If you can't feel sympathetic to him, then I think the problem lies with you, not him.

        • NotTheBuddha says:

          I feel your pain, I lead peer reviews and fact-checking for role-playing books. The maddening part is when you ask if everyone is clear on the posting rules like quote-trimming and bottom-posting, and half of them send back the one word "yes" at the top of each other's replies. Oy!

    • Elusis says:

      You know, I'm tempted to excerpt that part and send it to my Mom before I go visit next time.

  6. Erbo says:

    At least the famous "no brown M&Ms" requirement in the Van Halen tour rider had a useful purpose, as kind of a "parity check" or "bozo bit check" of the tour rider information.

  7. djm says:

    Weird, but still more pleasant than http://catb.org/~esr/travelrules.html

    • jwz says:

      esr is also fairly nutty, but that's not really an example of it! * It was kind of long, though a marvel of terseness compared to rms's, and there wasn't really anything goofy in it except the credit card thing.

      * But this is.

  8. piku says:

    Don't forget to distribute recordings of him and his speeches using only Open Source format files, otherwise his message is contradicted by the message being implied by the file format.

    Good then that he wants to preserve his overall message of "this has no relevance to 99% of the computer using world" then.

    He comes across as a terribly busy person that finds the whole idea of speaking a hassle. Almost like he doesn't want to, but has to out of irritation because nobody else can be trusted with his vision.

  9. Jeff says:

    Most of this really has the organic, "when I first wrote this file in the eighties it was less than a page, but I've had to add a paragraph every other month" feeling to it.

    I like cats if they are friendly, but they are not good for me; I am
    somewhat allergic to them. This allergy makes my face itch and my
    eyes water. So the bed, and the room I will usually be staying in,
    need to be clean of cat hair. However, it is no problem if there is a
    cat elsewhere in the house--I might even enjoy it if the cat is friendly.

    Host: We've set up our spare room for you. It's quite nice!
    rms: Thanks. I hope that wasn't too much trouble.
    Host: Oh, it's no trouble at all! The only ones who use it are our six cats. They like to hump on the pillows.

  10. Kevin Binswanger says:

    It is interesting to me that he is willing to fly in the US but not take trains because of their ID policy.

  11. Brilliance:

    In some places, my hosts act as if my every wish were their command.
    By catering to my every whim, in effect they make me a tyrant over
    them, which is not a role I like.

    This, buried in the middle of a demands list that'd make Mariah Carey blush.

    - Chris

    • Angus MacAskill says:

      This will be my counterexample every time someone accuses RMS of having no sense of humour.

  12. I arranged a talk with him at my school in 1992 or 1993, and I can verify that at this time, the document was only about a page long.

    It does look like every thing on here is something that probably happened to him at an appearance. I think I'm personally responsible for the "no breaks in the middle of a talk", because he talked about an hour past his scheduled time, and we had to break and switch rooms, and he threw a fit.

    I can only imagine the horrors that ensued when some poor fucker bought him a parrot.

    • Ian says:

      About 30 years ago, I saw the similarly long Public Image Ltd rider - you could probably write half of a history of the Sex Pistols from it, because yes, I bet everything covered in it did happen to Mr Lydon.

  13. Aaron Hertzmann says:

    My favorite bit: "I do not eat breakfast. Please do not ask me any questions about what I will do breakfast. Please just do not bring it up." This raises so many questions that I do not want answered.

    • Rick C says:

      Try asking a guy in a wheelchair sometime if he'd like you to push him where he's going.

  14. James C. says:

    There’s nothing in there about him picking his hair and making a little pile on the table while he eats in a nice restaurant. Perhaps he should include that to warn those of us who don’t expect that sort of behaviour from such an august personage.

    • bobo the hobo says:

      this first time i met him, in his office/bedroom in the ai lab in about '87 or so, to discuss some work i was going to do for him he did this with his toes.

  15. Devon Dossett says:

    "That is unbearably boring, and unnecessary -- conveying useful information is helpful and good, and why apologize
    for that? So please be practical and go straight to the point."

  16. andrew says:

    This is genius. I was wondering when Sacha Baron-Cohen was going to come up with a new character.

  17. andrew says:

    Also, how the hell do you pronounce "GNU" as one syllable if the G is hard. I've tried, and I can't do it. Nor can my dear wife.

    I hope he ends the speech with "As for Jamie Zawinski, I had to beat him to death with his own shoe.".