EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

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 this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks

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. European FRAND (Related to SEP) Proponent and Famed Programmer Comes to Realise That It's Actually a “Scam”

    Even people who have long promoted the practice of mandatory "licensing" (in effect patent tax one is unable to work around) are apparently changing their minds and their tune



  2. Not Even a Single Corporate Journalist Has Written Anything About These Very Important Bits of News

    Constant propaganda from patent maximalists has long infested the media, which is sometimes controlled and even bribed to set the tone and the agenda; important developments are being tucked away and require very deep digging for ordinary citizens to find



  3. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 09, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, July 09, 2020



  4. Racism in Technology (and Who Typically Lectures Us About the Subject)

    Racism is a real problem; some approaches to tackling racism, however, can also be problematic and those who take the lead 'on behalf' of victims tend to be opportunistic and privileged few (piggybacking others' grievances to further advance their financial agenda)



  5. Links 10/7/2020: Debian 8 Long Term Support EOL, Mobian Project, Mesa 20.1.3

    Links for the day



  6. [Humour] COVID-19 is Very, Very Afraid of Human Beings Making More Monopolies Instead of Fighting Together

    The European Patent Office (EPO) to the rescue! Fighting a dangerous pandemic one profitable monopoly at a time!



  7. The News is Never 'Slow', It's Just Journalism That's Slowing Down (and Investigative Journalism Coming Under Attack)

    A mix of censorship and subtle mind control contribute to misinformed societies that shape their perception or misunderstanding of the world based on false measures of authority (where money can determine what is true and what is untrue); many topics remain completely untouched, leading to apathy in a vacuum; it's very much applicable to international organisations, which are presumed benign by virtue of being multi-national or supranational



  8. Social Control Media is About Social Control and If It Doesn't Ban You It'll Shut Down Everyone's Account (One Day)

    It’s time to leave the ‘Internet rot’ which is social control media well behind us; blogging and RSS/XML may seem like a thing of the past, but they may as well become the future (again; if we make the correct and informed choices)



  9. Microsoft's Fingers in Every Pie: The Cult Mentality That Society Needs to Become Wary of

    Microsoft and its co-founder (pretending to do his for-profit 'charity' via the Gates Foundation) are trying to control the world; in the process they've moved to control even their most potent competitor, according to Gates himself, which is GNU/Linux



  10. Links 9/7/2020: Google’s Open Usage Commons, GNOME 3.36.4, Neptune 6.5

    Links for the day



  11. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, July 08, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, July 08, 2020



  12. Links 8/7/2020: SUSE to Acquire Rancher Labs, Btrfs as Default in Fedora, Qt Creator 4.12.4

    Links for the day



  13. Yes, Master

    When the Linux Foundation tells us to tone down our language we ought to remember what kind of hypocritical stance these people have (note: the above have nothing to do with slavery, either)



  14. Fraunhofer is Again Evergreening Software Patents to Maintain Its Codecs Cartel, Forcing Everyone to Pay to View/Stream Multimedia Files

    The roller-coaster of software patents on multimedia isn't stopping; we know the culprits who can be named for perpetuating this injustice



  15. [Humour/Meme] Focusing on the Bombings and Who's Included in the Bombings

    Supremacist agenda disguised as "tolerant and inclusive" is still objectionable supremacist agenda



  16. Manners Are a Good Thing. The Yardstick or the Standard of Manners Changes Over Time.

    Entirely legitimate grievances of African-Americans are being exploited by people who aren’t even African-American (and usually don’t speak for African-Americans) to warp the debate from one about software ethics and technical issues, not to mention war crimes of companies that employ many programmers, to something which is unlikely to really help African-Americans (also, they don't employ any African-Americans)



  17. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, July 07, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, July 07, 2020



  18. Links 8/7/2020: Huawei’s GNU/Linux PC, Sparky 5.12, and Endless OS 3.8.4 Released

    Links for the day



  19. [Humour] Television Channels That Don't Speak of Real Looting But Participate in Looting

    People may need to look beyond (or outside) the television screen to grasp what's going on



  20. (Software) Freedom is Elusive Without the Ability to Concentrate

    Software is consuming people's minds; to make matters worse, people have become so attached to such software that they're unable to see it and get away from it (they associate that software with "social life")



  21. Monopolies Erode Freedom, Freedom Erodes Monopolies

    "There are so many reasons that GitHub makes projects less free."



  22. Links 7/7/2020: NomadBSD 1.3.2, Clonezilla Live 2.6.7 and DRM Comes to Cars

    Links for the day



  23. [Humour] IAM Ranked Top for Quality of EPO Propaganda

    Contrary to what the European Patent Office (EPO) keeps saying, patent quality is slipping very fast in Europe (based on the EPO's own analysis!) but patent trolls-funded publishers deny that



  24. When They're Done With Patents on Foods and Recipes They'll Have Patents on Fashion, Taste and Smell

    The mental dysfunction — an infectious condition — that says everything in the world must be patented should be resisted; it overlooks the fact that patents were introduced to protect/promote actual invention, not thoughts, feelings, nature and art



  25. [Humour/Meme] IBM's Money is Unhealthy to the Free Software Foundation (FSF)

    IBM will never be happy as long as RMS (Richard Stallman) has a say in the FSF — directly or indirectly — or even in the GNU Project, both of which he himself created back when IBM was the biggest monopolist



  26. IRC Proceedings: Monday, July 06, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, July 06, 2020



  27. Never Let IBM/Red Hat Lecture Us on Morality

    Ethics and morality should not be taught by those who themselves need a lesson; in the meantime we're losing the courage to speak freely and those who commit atrocious acts like it a lot better that way



  28. [Humour/Meme] Wear the Red Hat as the Open Org Becomes Openwash

    IBM is changing Red Hat and not for the better; sooner or later IBM will become another Microsoft and changing from one to the other will be like swapping 'masters'



  29. IBM is Imposing Non-Free, Privacy-Infringing Tools and Patent Tolls on Red Hat Staff

    There are signs that Red Hat under IBM will be more like assimilation to IBM, not IBM assimilating to the 'Red Hat way' or the so-called 'open org'



  30. They Tell the Free Software Community That It is Racist While Saying Nothing at All About Trump's Racism (Because He Gives Them Government and Military Contracts)

    While their president compares 'foreign' people to a virus (using innuendo, dog whistles and racist rhetoric reminiscent of the Nazi era) the big US corporations (American surveillance giants) turn their attention to rather innocuous words inside people's code (which almost nobody sees anyway)


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