02.25.20

FSF’s Interim Co-President Alexandre Oliva on FSF Communication Policies

Posted in FSF at 10:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original blog post by the FSF's interim co-president

E-mail communication

In yesterday’s inStallmant of the FSF Odyssey, I mentioned that guidance opposite to that of any board decision somehow got to FSF staff. Surely I, being acting president and then half-acting president, must suck as a manager. I probably do indeed, but it’s not so simple.

FSF operates with a lot of autonomy. Sometimes it felt like the board and the presidence are not even part of the FSF. Just to name two examples, I wasn’t even aware of the campaign to Upcycle Windows 7, or the awesome Shoetool Video, before they went public.

Shortly after I became acting president, I sent a letter to staff making myself available to any concerns they might have. I was then asked by chief of staff to route communications through the org chart rather than directly to staff. That made sense to me: having multiple bosses making conflicting requests to an employee is an unbearable situation. What I did not imagine was that staff would not be told about this arrangement, and might thus conclude that my abiding by the request, even when it came to staff I’d long known and interacted with, amounted to distancing myself, in contradiction with my stated availability.

There’s an internal wiki used to draft up posts, record meeting logs, document internal procedures, and also for plenty of informal internal communication such as personal activity logs, reading recommendations, and random thoughts and ramblings. I had been granted access to it early on, and welcomed to peruse it to keep up with internal ongoings. I did, for some time, and later I even thought I could use it for collaboration with staff and participate in activities!

Alas, that didn’t last long. I can’t tell whether it was because I extracted information from the logs that contradicted other information I was given, because I raised issues about information and plans I read there, or because I started storing in it drafts of plans and messages that affirmed board guidances and questioned deviations from them, but my I access was cut off without warning due to “misuse of the resource”.

Complaining didn’t get me anywhere. Part of the problem was that, by then, in computer networking terminology, we had a single point of failure mediating all public communication and all communication between board and staff, resisting to attempts to introduce alternate routes, at least ones involving myself. Richard predicted that problem the moment he heard about the configuration that enabled it. Stallman was right.

Meanwhile, the media storm that led to his resignation was long gone and I was eager to get back to public conversations on Free Software policies, but there was clear pressure for me not to do so. Don’t engage in conversations about the media storm grew into don’t talk to journalists, nor to anyone who might get published in a blog or social media; objections to talking about Richard’s political positions unrelated to Free Software expanded to talking about Richard, then to any public address; and even to complaining internally about deviations from board guidances and to telling Richard about plans that I knew he’d object to.

I joined the FSF as a voice for Free Software, eager to help it carry out its work for software freedom for all, but ended up grounded in virtual solitary confinement. But it’s not a coup.

(Julian and Chelsea, I apologize to you for the disproportionate comparison. The virtual version is unbearable, but the real thing is unfathomable. May we some day deserve the benefits conquered through the sacrifices you’ve made!)

So blong…


Copyright 2007-2020 Alexandre Oliva

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this entire document worldwide without royalty, provided the copyright notice, the document’s official URL, and this permission notice are preserved.

The following licensing terms also apply to all documents and postings in this blog that don’t contain a copyright notice of their own, or that contain a notice equivalent to the one above, and whose copyright can be reasonably assumed to be held by Alexandre Oliva.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons License BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) 3.0 Unported. To see a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2020/02/25/fsf-communication-policies/

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. In 2021 the EPO Works for Parasites Instead of Scientists (and It Cannot Even Hide That Anymore)

    Europe's second-largest institution is working for those who attack instead of create (or those who attack actual creators, with lousy and sketchy patents as ammunition)



  2. Links 1/3/2021: Manjaro ARM 21.02 and First Linux 5.12 RC Released

    Links for the day



  3. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, February 28, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, February 28, 2021



  4. On Gangstalking and Victim-Blaming

    Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock



  5. If the Web Can Be Increasingly Replaced (or Complemented) by Gemini and IPFS Etc., Then Large Monopolists Will Try to Dominate Those

    Monopolists and sociopaths won't be clapping and cheering for whatever stands a chance of replacing the Web (or Big Banks); if they ever embrace those replacements, it'll be to dominate and in turn undermine these



  6. Links 28/2/2021: Nitrux 1.3.8 and Kraft 0.96

    Links for the day



  7. Techrights Over 3 Internet Protocols and From the Command Line, Using Either Curl/Wget/Text Editor (Over WWW) or IPFS or Gemini

    A quick demo of how Techrights can be accessed without a browser, either over gemini:// or over http://



  8. The Command Line for Weather and Football Scores, Among Other Stuff

    A lot of stuff can be done from the command line and productivity (not to mention privacy) enhanced by automation and scripting over the Web (or even Gemini, as we shall show in a future video)



  9. You Know Gemini Space is Getting a Lot Bigger When You Need to Implement DDOS Protection

    Techrights is currently working on tools or programs that help detect and respond to DDOS attacks (or abusive over-consumption of pages) over gemini://



  10. The Fall of The Register

    A word of caution about The Register, a British publisher that nowadays does a lot of reputation laundering for Microsoft and Bill Gates (instead of news about actual technology, as opposed to clown computing, big brands, and oligarchs)



  11. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, February 27, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, February 27, 2021



  12. Links 27/2/2021: IPFS 0.8, OnionShare 2.3.1, and New Stuff in KDE

    Links for the day



  13. The Internet After Social Control Media (and Maybe After the World Wide Web Too)

    There seems to be a growing trend of protests and backlash against centralised Internet disservices; there's also growing dissatisfaction over bloat and spyware, which the Web rendered a 'norm'



  14. SCO's Darl McBride is Finished (Bankruptcy)

    Some news about the site and about the long-forgotten SCO, whose infamous old (and sacked) Darl McBride (responsible for decade-long attacks on Linux) loses everything, based on fresh legal documents



  15. IRC Proceedings: Friday, February 26, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, February 26, 2021



  16. Links 26/2/2021: Wine 6.3, Genode OS Framework 21.02

    Links for the day



  17. Links 26/2/2021: GNU Poke 1.0 is Out and Rocky Linux Leaves Microsoft GitHub

    Links for the day



  18. Microsoft's Status in Web Servers is So Bad That It Has Fallen Off Charts, is Now Partly Delisted

    In several categories or criteria Microsoft is no longer even listed by Netcraft; the share has become rather minuscule during the pandemic, which convinced more companies to explore expense-cutting moves



  19. We Take Away Your Freedom for Your Own Safety...

    People are herded like cattle and protest/dissent will be demonised as part of the new norm; what will be the cost of the pandemic and will resistance to the status quo ever be permitted to resume?



  20. EPO President Pushes Illegal Software Patents in South America (Over the Telephone With a Misleading New Puff Piece)

    The EPO's "news" section has become worse than a form of distraction (from the EPO's internal rot); it celebrates illegal and unlawful practices, spreading them to other continents



  21. The Free Software Foundation Warns Against Using Twitter

    Richard Stallman said Twitter was OK because it was possible to use it without proprietary software; that's no longer the case, so the Free Software Foundation (FSF) speaks out against it. It speaks about it more than 3 months after the problem became a known one and also an irreversible one (maybe Twitter would have reversed the decision if the media or the FSF actually spoke about it early enough).



  22. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, February 25, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, February 25, 2021



  23. Stéphane Bortzmeyer Explains Gemini Protocol (February 2021)

    A recent talk from Stéphane Bortzmeyer about Gemini and what it is for (or why)



  24. Links 26/2/2021: Istio 1.7.8 Announced, Blender 2.92, Firebird 3.0 Language Reference, FSF Against Twitter

    Links for the day



  25. Special Thanks to Mogz

    Credit where it's due to Mogz



  26. Modifying WordPress to Include Gemini Links in All Articles (Assuming a Canonical URL Form)

    In order to promote the departure from the World Wide Web (where possible and suitable; sites with text don't typically need Web-like features) one can promote the analogous pages in one's Gemini capsule; we suggest a way of doing so in WordPress (the most widely used CMS)



  27. Links 25/2/2021: RHEL for Open-Source Infrastructure, GNOME 40 Beta, LXPanel 0.10.1

    Links for the day



  28. IBM and Qt Don't Understand Free Software and They Now Impose Terms and Conditions on Who Qualifies for Use of Free Software Free of Charge

    IBM and Qt Don't Understand Free Software and They Now Impose Terms and Conditions on Who Qualifies for Use of Free Software Free of Charge



  29. Techrights Gemini Capsule, Now With Over 35,000 Pages and Files

    Blog posts combined with static (plain text) files are now 36,000+ in number, just for Gemini protocol alone; that number keeps growing as our conversion proceeds and evolves (our software will be released under terms of the AGPLv3)



  30. Eventually, or Hopefully, Many People Will Come Back to What the Web Used to Be (Or Web Alternatives More Like the 'Old' Web)

    With RSS feeds making a comeback and a resurgence of personal blogs we can take back the Web from a cabal of tech/Internet giants and social control media, censored, curated and spied on by oligarchy


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts