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04.16.19

Reader’s Claim That Rules Similar to the Code of Conduct (CoC) Were ‘Imposed’ on LibrePlanet and the FSF

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux at 7:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A conference

Summary: Restrictions on speech are said to have been spread and reached some of the most liberal circles, according to a credible veteran who opposes illiberal censorship

THE Linux Foundation (LF) isn’t what it seems from the outside. The name, the logo and the marketing make it look very “professional”, but what profession are these people? Well, the management is nontechnical and many come from marketing and branding (like Microsoft) rather than engineering and administration. It’s a cultural misfit.

“It’s a cultural misfit.”Having asked RMS (Richard Stallman) about the matter, and having exchanged a couple dozen E-mails per day (at most), we have been attempting to understand the difference between the Linux Foundation and the Free Software Foundation (FSF). Putting aside the FSFE gaffe last month (over copyright in the EU), we’re generally supportive of the FSF and its unofficial branches around the world (there is one in India too) because they focus on freedom rather than some brand or trademark. We also spoke to Alexandre Oliva (Red Hat and GNU) in an effort to verify claims that had been sent to us. This took weeks to fact-check and some of the claims remain to be proven because LibrePlanet, the FSF’s ‘equivalent’ of LF events, uses different terminology. One reader told us about “CoC for LibrePlanet drama,” but as it turns out we are hearing different stories. “At LibrePlanet,” says this reader, “I was surprised to see an old friend who really wanted to talk to me about all this CoC stuff. In fact, it was someone who tried to recruit me into being on the CoC staff for the next Hope. At first, I was interested, but I never went.

“At any rate — the word was, there was a forced CoC this year for LibrePlanet and RMS was like, “but not me, right?” 2 days before LibrePlanet, potential sponsors like SFC found out that yes, RMS will abide by the CoC. RMS told me he doesn’t make hiring decisions these days, but there is an opening in outreach. When I went to find this opening, I could not find it. So, I when to IRC and witnessed a user being threatened by the CoC. I freaked out. Of all the places I had thought I’d be free from censorship; it was the FSF event, right…

“It was really ridiculous. Anyway, I wonder if you had a chance to ask Stallman, the man himself…”

My conversations with him are generally private (unless I am given permission to share these), but the impression I got is that he opposes policies that stifle criticism of corporations (as opposed to individual people). Our reader wanted to know more: “What happened with the CoC at LibrePlanet?!”

Or more pertinent questions:

  • “Was there any pressure to implement a CoC — and apparently, even in IRC, enforce this?”
  • “Did he feel bullied into agreeing to the CoC?”
  • “Was there pressure from potential sponsors to incorporate a Code of Conduct?”
  • “Was the SFC that sponsor…?”
  • “Isn’t it true the former campaign manager of the FSF is speaking at LinuxFest Northwest about enforcing Codes of Conduct…?”

“If you want,” the reader noted, “I think there’s a story there… if dude was telling me the truth, which I have no reason to doubt him. Known him 2 decades.”

Those who are mentioned likely know who’s who, but we’re not mentioning names here (we keep it impersonal). We don’t want to be accused of emboldening personal attacks. This angle of the story has generally required me to do a lot of editing after asking around without divulging some identities/names.

“I, myself,” explained the reader, “am curious about what I had heard about the Code of Conduct enforcement at LibrePlanet and how it seemed RMS was pressured into abiding by a CoC. That, in itself, is very disturbing to me. I don’t know what exactly is going on over there, but it looks like somehow, they are pressuring him to abide by a CoC.”

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