Free Software Federation HOWTO

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A Guide to Free Software Federation (live wiki version, based on v. 0.1)

Some ideas for advancing the state of the Free Software Federation:

  1. Start with what you know about free software.
    • What makes it important to you? What aspects of free software do you consider already vital and of central importance? The organisation you create, join or contribute to will hopefully promote these established aspects of free software.
  2. Free software is defined by the Free Software Foundation in the Free Software Definition.
    • It includes the 4 freedoms. This definition is recommended as a touchstone for this federation.
    • For those organisations that do not recommend the Free Software Definition, the 4 freedoms in that definition are still strongly recommended as a key guideline; something we all have in common.
  3. There is no single governing authority to enforce these ideals-- the Free Media Alliance, as part of its THRIVE guidelines, recommends the following:
    • "Each community should be allowed to explore its own options to further the long-term benefits of its efforts towards software freedom-- subject to informal approval and/or intellectually honest (fair) critique [from] other communities."
  4. What weaknesses or shortcomings do you think exist in the current implementation of free software advocacy?
    • What would you change about the way free software is presently advocated / created / promoted / defended? Apart from the existing ideas your organisation would reinforce, these changes represent some of the reasons your organisation exists.
    • A recommended option would be to create a charter (or at least, an FAQ or RFC) based on both values you wish to reinforce, along with other values you would like to promote and build.
  5. You have the option of promoting specific Free software and other Freely-licensed works relevant to software freedom.
    • What values and what tools do you consider most important to promote? If you know what you want to start with, you can add to it later.
  6. What licenses does your organisation want to promote over other licenses?
  7. Any time is a good time to think about what social, online or other venues (local groups?) you wish to use as a means of promoting and crowdsourcing your work.
    • How can people contact you to express interest or join your group? Who else do you know that can help you spread the word about it?
    • These can also be additional social contact points for you. To a significant degree, this federation has the opportunity to join organisations together in communication and collaboration on ideas.
  8. A place people can go to learn more is another good place to start.
    • If you have a forum or online community, that alone could suffice. Sometimes a simple website or git instance is a good place to start putting your ideas-- show it to people and let them comment.
  9. If you are tired of online/media witch hunts and reactionary censorship (or explicit exclusion based on one-sided charges of implicit exclusion):
    • You may consider if your organisation is a place that welcomes (in the traditional sense of having open arms, rather than the modern version of demanding particular ideals and behaviour) Richard Stallman, the founder of the free software movement.
    • Free software IS a diverse and inclusive movement. Recommended reading for your community: https://medium.com/@maradydd/when-nerds-collide-31895b01e68c
  10. There are various projects you could take up, based on the shortcomings or weaknesses you perceive as part of point 4.
    • One such project you might consider is maintaining a history of attacks on free software, if not a general history of the free software movement-- its beginnings and its triumphs and setbacks.
  11. What should we add to this list? This guide is being crowdsourced among multiple venues of social media.
    • Feel free to participate by asking people you know for more ideas or submitting ideas yourself.
  12. It is advisable to count the Free Software Foundation among this federation, whether the recognition is reciprocal it or not.
    • Richard Stallman and the FSF are the original and founding authorities on free software.
  13. It is good to think about how formal you want your group to be in terms of a "lab" or forum, group or organisation.
    • If your organisation is informal it is important to avoid organisational transactions involving money or physical goods, otherwise you will likely need to fill out returns or face large fines. Outside the United States, requirements may vary.
    • If you wish to accept dues or deal with physical and monetary donations, organisation becomes more complicated-- you may wish to learn about 501c laws or consider the legal venue where your group is located.
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