Richard Stallman is weird. Seriously.

February 11th, 2012  |  Published in Humor and Satire  |  11 Comments

If you want to read something hilarious, read Richard Stallman’s travel/speaking arrangements manifesto — what a weirdo! Here are some highlights:

Above 72 fahrenheit (22 centigrade) I find sleeping quite difficult.
(If the air is dry, I can stand 23 degrees.) A little above that
temperature, a strong electric fan blowing on me enables me to sleep.
More than 3 degrees above that temperature, I need air conditioning to
sleep.

If there is a substantial chance of indoor temperatures too hot for
me, please arrange _in advance_ for me to have what I need. [...]

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.

Dogs that bark angrily and/or jump up on me frighten me, unless they
are small and cannot reach much above my knees. But if they only bark
or jump when we enter the house, I can cope, as long as you hold the
dog away from me at that time. Aside from that issue, I’m ok with
dogs.

If you can find a host for me that has a friendly parrot, I will be
very very glad. If you can find someone who has a friendly parrot I
can visit with, that will be nice too.

DON’T buy a parrot figuring that it will be a fun surprise for me. To
acquire a parrot is a major decision: it is likely to outlive you. If
you don’t know how to treat the parrot, it could be emotionally
scarred and spend many decades feeling frightened and unhappy. If you
buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating
practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it.
Meeting that sad animal is not an agreeable surprise. [...]

If a hotel says “We have internet access for customers”, that is so
vague that it cannot be relied on. So please find out exactly what
they have and exactly what it will do. If they have an ethernet, do
they have a firewall? Does it permit SSH connections? What
parameters does the user need to specify in order to talk with it? [...]

For reasons of principle, I am unwilling to identify myself in order
to connect to the Internet. For instance, if a hotel gives a user
name and password to each room, I won’t use that system, since it
would identify me. [...]

It is nice of you to want to be kind to me, but please don’t offer
help all the time. In general I am used to managing life on my own;
when I need help, I am not shy about asking. So there is no need to
offer to help me. Moreover, being constantly offered help is actually
quite distracting and tiresome.

So please, unless I am in grave immediate danger, please don’t offer
help. The nicest thing you can do is help when I ask, and otherwise
not worry about how I am doing. Meanwhile, you can also ask me for
help when you need it.

One situation where I do not need help, let alone supervision, is in
crossing streets. I grew up in the middle of the world’s biggest
city, full of cars, and I have crossed streets without assistance even
in the chaotic traffic of Bangalore and Delhi. Please just leave me
alone when I cross streets. [...]

When you need to tell me about a problem in a plan, please do not
start with a long apology. 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.

If I am typing on my computer and it is time to do something else,
please tell me. Don’t wait for me to “finish working” first, because
you would wait forever. I have to squeeze in answering mail at every
possible opportunity, which includes whenever I have to wait. I wait
by working. If instead of telling me there is no more need for me to
wait, you wait for me to stop waiting for you, we will both wait
forever — or until I figure out what’s happening. [...]

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. [...]

Don’t ever try to decide what food I should eat without asking me. [...]

If you get a bottle of wine, I will taste it, and if I like the taste,
I will drink a little, perhaps a glass. [...]

Please do not ever mail me a file larger than 100k without asking me
first. I almost certainly do not want to receive it in that form.

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Responses

  1. Adriano says:

    February 12th, 2012 at 10:24 am (#)

    yeah, weird: he should have done a configuration file … :P

  2. Lisa Qin says:

    March 25th, 2012 at 11:48 pm (#)

    How easy it is for you to call other people weird, I’m sure you yourself have idiosyncrasies which to the outsider might seem stupid. I say let him be, he’s prolly done more good for people overall than anyone on this blog.

  3. jah says:

    May 29th, 2012 at 8:00 am (#)

    Someone tell him that Reggae is not a US form of music. I like how his assistant’s last name is Rasta.

  4. Mike says:

    July 18th, 2012 at 7:56 am (#)

    Over a year ago, I actually read the entire document, and he explains why all of that material is there. I will just say that he travels a great deal, for little, and often no, money. All of these details are there because they have come up in his travels, some of them frequently. You’ll find that people who travel a lot for business, and even for personal reasons, all have lists like this, written or just mental. When you’re on the road, little things matter a lot because your comfort and schedule is so dependent on them. I don’t think he’s weird at all, but you come off as a judgemental jerk.

  5. malkie says:

    August 12th, 2012 at 8:06 pm (#)

    Hmmm, I must be weird too – I don’t see anything weird about this list at all.

  6. Neil says:

    August 15th, 2012 at 4:07 am (#)

    I agree with the general consensus that the person criticising Richard Stallman is being a judgmental jerk.

    He’s dedicated his life to successfully changing computing for the better, that buys him the right to lack suaveness and have a room no hotter than 23 (and plenty more) celsius in my books.

  7. Jonny says:

    August 23rd, 2012 at 3:08 pm (#)

    I don’t think he is weird for having preferences. But the way he lists these things does sort of come off like he is peeved that people don’t already know what his preferences are, like it is common knowledge. Especially where he 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.” How on earth would someone know you don’t want breakfast without asking? A lot of travelers ARE shy about these things, and if something is not offered they will assume it is not available. So no, I don’t think this guy is necessarily weird. Just rude about people who sound like they are just trying to be accommodating.

  8. Wes says:

    November 26th, 2012 at 8:20 pm (#)

    Ummmm… I’m gonna have to stay with weird. You can’ t excuse this eccentric behavior, you’ve got to pay for the taxi to pick him up and take him away.

  9. c says:

    December 13th, 2012 at 10:37 am (#)

    I don’t see anything wrong here. Stop being so critical.

  10. Markus says:

    February 19th, 2013 at 2:41 am (#)

    There’s absolutely nothing weird about Richard Stallman’s guide for accommodations (it most definitely is NOT a manifesto of any kind), and I’m in full agreement with others who say you’re a judgmental jerk. Rock stars and musicians almost always present similar manuals to upcoming hosts and venues. They’re called riders, and they’re notorious for their fickle and outrageous demands. So the next time you have the uncontrollable urge to bash someone you don’t know, try your favorite musician.

  11. Josh S says:

    February 19th, 2013 at 4:20 am (#)

    If you could please provide me riders like this for some musicians (especially my favorite ones), I will be happy to make fun of them as well. Thanks in advance.

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