They are generally viewed about the same way. If you post:
"Hey whats a free alternative to John Font 2000"
I'm going to hammer it shut on sight.
If you post,
"Hey, I'm looking for a more affordable alternative to John Font 2000 (provide image). I looked at X, Y, and Z but none really got the expression. With John Font 2000 the curves really make me think of A and B which works for the project really well. Does anyone have a suggestion of another font that elicits a similar feel of A and B?"
Then I wouldn't hammer it though I may downvote it. Personally, I hate font identification questions - I either ignore or downvote most of them.
That said, if you went a step further and said,
"Hey I really like John Font 2000 (provide image). It really elicits a feeling of A and B. The project I'm working on is letterhead and a logo for Acme Co. They're trying to brand themselves as this and that so the feeling of A and B really helps. Unfortunately their budget isn't enough for me to purchase John Font 2000 and I haven't been able to find any very similar fonts. What other options might there be to elicit a similar feel?"
Well look at that! A much better question that can elicit all sorts of answers. Some might suggest alternative fonts. Some may suggest similar fonts that you could convert to outlines and make minor alterations too. Some might suggestion entirely different things to elicit the same feel avoiding the problem entirely.
Basically, a font is a tool to create X. Rather than asking for a free tool ask for other ways to create X.
note: if there is a John Font 2000 it is by coincidence. I just made some random font name up in my head as I went