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Dear FSF, Your Fundraiser “Memes” Are The Best Ever — But Image Isn’t Everything

Posted in FSF at 8:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

By figsodev


Summary: “What really matters to your members is the future — getting it right, and doing what’s right.”

Zoe, since you’re the one being quoted, and possibly the most potential-member-facing of the group at the moment, let me start by letting you off the hook. Nobody (that I know of) really blames you for this, even if your name is on the page. This isn’t about you, this is about your organisation. No worries.

With that said, here is how not to encourage people to support the FSF:

“The faces behind the Free software movement may change, but with your support, the Free Software Foundation will not diverge from our continued”

Sad trumpet noises

Who really believes you’re going to stand behind a mere advocate of Free software like me, when you don’t stand behind the founder of Free software?

We know what happened — they got to the interns with FUD, the interns didn’t know better, they convinced the Board, and Stallman more or less jumped ship so they would stop firing at it. That’s noble and all, but it doesn’t do much good if your ship is now drifting aimlessly and without a real Captain.

Now that enough people have more or less proven that the attacks were predominantly fake — Joshua Gay said that things started to look “up” after RMS left — they’re not looking up now though, are they?

“And it’s not just the FSF, organisations everywhere are selling out and selling off their names to companies with a mandate to destroy them and profit from their destruction.”People are figuring out that an FSF that doesn’t stand up for its Chief doesn’t stand for anybody.

You could have at least said you were sad that he left! Are you only sad to lose members? Dyne.org was able to say it was a misfortune, why weren’t you?

And it’s not just the FSF, organisations everywhere are selling out and selling off their names to companies with a mandate to destroy them and profit from their destruction. Don’t let the FSF become another Linux Foundation.

Now that you’re low on steam, you’re leaning on Valessio Brito to get everybody moving. You keep him, he honestly is doing a super job — the badges are terrific and I’m sure they will help spread the word and ideas of the FSF. But the FSF can’t survive on image alone. True advocates are too smart for that, or they would have all joined OSI by now…

Anyway, don’t lean too much on looking cool, the real legacy of the FSF is about Doing The Right Thing. And The Right Thing is to Bring Stallman Back. As much as you possibly can.

“Of course Stallman’s not immortal (if he is, that’s one trick up his sleeve we aren’t in on) and he will leave the FSF someday, but the terms under which he left this year were mostly invalid at best.”The first thing you need to do is get him on the Board, starting yesterday. There was just no reason for him to leave. Sit down with Brito and come up with some way to woo RMS back to the board where he belongs, and I bet the donations will start rising. I’m still going to chide the FSF for being overly donation-driven, when the whole point of a non-profit is to put the mission first and the fund-chasing second, but you’re an ageing 501(c)3 so I get it, really.

Second, you need Stallman to lead until you have an adequate replacement. That’s going to take more time, and I think most people will be very relieved to see the FSF running on all cylinders again, without recreating season six of The Office.

Of course Stallman’s not immortal (if he is, that’s one trick up his sleeve we aren’t in on) and he will leave the FSF someday, but the terms under which he left this year were mostly invalid at best. It will take a lot of putting aside pride to put things right, but that doesn’t make it impossible, only difficult.

“What really matters to your members is the future — getting it right, and doing what’s right.”This time around, I strongly recommend any of his protégées be brought a little more into the fold and properly integrated with the FSF and its mission. The FSF is not monolithic, nor do I think it should be, but it will still crash without a working kernel.

It’s clear that you want people to work with the FSF. It’s becoming clearer they want the FSF to work with them as well. I agree that it’s important to appeal to people as strongly as possible, and some of the messages are really on point — not the one about “the faces may change.” That was awful… but I’m sure it was with good intentions, like being excited for someone and asking “When is it due?” and hearing “I’m not pregnant.”


What really matters to your members is the future — getting it right, and doing what’s right. That’s all the FSF can do now, is try to move the FSF towards a better future than the one it has at the moment. I realise Stallman may decline. All you can do really, is all you can. People will know the difference. Haters gonna hate, Cowards gonna cower, Heroes gonna hero, and Members gonna remember.

I know these questions and comments could sound like they’re aimed at you personally — they’re really not. You’re speaking for the FSF, but nobody in particular as far as we know, and I’m speaking to the FSF for a bunch of other people who care about Free software, but nobody in particular as far as you know. That’s how it goes for proxies, eh?

Have your people call my people, and let’s get this mess sorted out before next year’s fundraiser, whatd’ya say? It’s not too late to put things right again.

Long Live Stallman, and Happy Hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

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