01.01.20

Gemini version available ♊︎

Whose Opinion Really Matters to The FSF? The Board’s, The Sponsors’, or The Members’?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 1:18 pm by Guest Editorial Team

By Ted MacReilly

Does media matter?
Do members matter? Does the billionaires-owned media decide whether to ‘cancel’ the founder of the FSF?

Summary: “Prove that you care about the Mission of the FSF — And DEFEND SOFTWARE FREEDOM.”

It’s a new decade for the Free Software Foundation, whether you find it off to a hopeful start or not. And just like in The Office, this decade the FSF has two co-managing, sort-of presidents. Well, whatever.

The two surest signs that members don’t matter to the FSF are the failed fundraiser, and the fact that Stallman isn’t in office. Why say this outrageous thing? Because it’s technically true, of course.

Theoretically, members matter a lot. And in practice, members may have influence sometimes. But you can probably tell when they do. When you fork over money to support the FSF, you don’t get any voting privileges with that membership. Maybe you shouldn’t, either — if anybody can just buy their own importance, what’s to stop everybody at Microsoft, or IBM from becoming members and… sorry, we’re getting ahead of things here.

“When you fork over money to support the FSF, you don’t get any voting privileges with that membership.”Whether you’re a corporation buying your way in, or a single person fooling yourself into thinking your opinion automatically matters (it does, but to whom?) isn’t the proof in the results?

Most members do not want Stallman gone, and enough people are unhappy enough now that Stallman has stepped down that the FSF has lost what I figure amounts to tens of thousands of dollars. That’s a pretty big screwup and the good news is, that it’s a screwup the FSF can fix — if members really matter.

Again, maybe it’s better that members can’t vote. The Open Source Initiative, an organization that used to at least feign to care about freedom or openness (or whatever it is they promote) made a change years ago where they decided to be more member-oriented. In my opinion, they’ve only gotten more cloyingly corporate and less “open”/Apple-y/developery since they allowed sponsors to take over more of their operation — Molly de Blanc even works there, and I can’t really tell the difference between GNOME and Microsoft anymore.

When did all these things become the same company anyway? When your operating system is controlled by GitHub+Microsoft+OIN+Red Hat+IBM, Debian+Mollamby+GNOME+OSI, Apple and SUSE+SAP, maybe it really is unfair to call it “GNU+Linux” anymore. Out of recognition, we should at least call it “GNU+Linux+Bloodthirsty monopolistic corporations.”

“…maybe it really is unfair to call it “GNU+Linux” anymore.”The point is, if you want to know who had a GREAT 2019, it’s IBM and Microsoft. They had the biggest coups in the entire history of their partnership. Not only have they taken over Free software, but the government is paying them extra! To quote the Halloween documents, it’s nothing but “Blue Sky” from now on.

If you’re a supporter of Free software though, it really sucks to be you. And of course we want the FSF to do something about it, but we know that all you’ve said over the past 5 to 10 years hasn’t really changed anything the FSF does day-to-day or year-to-year. We are powerless, and being told the FSF fights for our freedom.

I have worked tirelessly to try to figure out what we can do about this. There’s always the way things work on paper, and how they work in press releases, but you know programmers and techies, they want to know how things Really work. If the Halloween documents (some of which are hosted on gnu.org) are factual, then Microsoft has spent decades reverse-engineering organizations like the FSF to try to figure out how to exploit them. It figured out how to exploit the GPL, forcing them to create a patched version (GPL3.)

“If the Halloween documents (some of which are hosted on gnu.org) are factual, then Microsoft has spent decades reverse-engineering organizations like the FSF to try to figure out how to exploit them. It figured out how to exploit the GPL, forcing them to create a patched version (GPL3.)”If we want to compete with the corporations exploiting and trying to take over the FSF, we may have to reverse engineer the organisational processes as well.

(Or at least find accurate, easy-to-understand documentation… haha, gotcha.)

It’s a common assumption to assume the president has more power than they really do. We can logically assume Stallman had some, or there would be no advantage to ousting him in the first place. Now the FSF has a sort of chimera-like leadership, between a Suit who wants “unity” (find a historical example of “unity” that didn’t favor a faction closer to the leadership, they’re quite rare — Sullivan’s “unity” likely just means a shift in authority and the rest of his messaging isn’t anything to be hopeful about) and a Stallman-like hippie who nonetheless is so steeped in corporate culture that it can take veritable ages to guide him back to the land of the living.

Rhetorically, and historically, the FSF is against the worst parts of all this — that’s why we like them! If you look past rhetoric towards results however, the FSF continues to cede to corporate power. What about Puri.sm? When I think of what future the FSF might have, I think RYF is a very good idea; it’s something we need. I think the track record for RYF is good. But is Puri.sm a scam or not? Is IBM taking over the GNU system or not? Is the mailing list being censored or not?

“Too many signs of corruption remain present, as the FSF tries to double-down on old messaging against a backdrop of unconvincing sincerity and a conspicuously missing single-person-presidency.”Who do you think these guys answer to — you? They may reply, but if your questions aren’t really answered then they must know they don’t owe you anything — not even the truth in some instances, and they certainly don’t answer to you. Is this how the FSF fights for your freedom?

Too many signs of corruption remain present, as the FSF tries to double-down on old messaging against a backdrop of unconvincing sincerity and a conspicuously missing single-person-presidency.

If members had a say at all, they MIGHT manage to fix this!

SO WHO HAS THE REAL SAY here?

In the near future, we might find out that the failed fundraiser gets their attention and forces the FSF to care not just in a “we care, really!” sort of way, but in a “we have to do something different to get our numbers back up” kind of way.

Or they might just fall back on their very large, anonymous nest egg which they received before all this horror and atrocity started last year.

Or they might decide “screw associate members, let’s just do more for our corporate sponsors.”

I’m told that finance-wise, members (rather than sponsors) make up the largest part of the pie. But is that still true with this failed annual fundraiser?

“I’m told that finance-wise, members (rather than sponsors) make up the largest part of the pie. But is that still true with this failed annual fundraiser?”I admit to not caring about the numbers, at least not compared to the actions, achievements and goals of the FSF. I care about software freedom, I care about a degree of autonomy from monopolies without which software freedom is largely hypothetical — I care about the FSF fighting for us. The numbers could be sky-high, but if our freedom is suffering and nothing is being done about it, the budget is irrelevant to me.

I realise I’m wandering around a bit, but we’ve ruled out significant power by the president (as he’s not in office) and we’ve ruled out significant power by the members (whose only real “vote” is to abstain from funding. And that was never very relevant before this year.)

Minus the president, minus the members, what’s left is:

  • Corporate sponsors
  • The board
  • Corporate moles

I threw that last one in just to be thorough. We (as Free software advocates) have sympathisers in monopolistic corporations. They may likewise have corporate/monopoly sympathisers in our organisations, they certainly did not long ago.

We know the board has most of the voting power, by charter and by process of elimination.

We know the corporate sponsors have de facto power, as 2019 was like Year-Round-Christmas for monopolies who wanted to take software that’s free for everyone and make it “more free for some than others.” You can almost hear the cynical echo of Ballmer’s “Developers! Developers! Developers!” in the distance.

“You can almost hear the cynical echo of Ballmer’s “Developers! Developers! Developers!” in the distance.”We can’t get anything from the corporate sponsors, the president doesn’t really exist (not in any reasonable or worthwhile capacity) and any moles are certainly useless to our cause, so who does that leave?

The board, the board, and the board.

The board is the only real official power of the FSF.

Now, what does that tell us?

“…we know that in practice the board listens more to corporate sponsors than to us.”One, that if we want to bolster the FSF’s defenses into a force that can actually fight for us in this new decade, that we have to get to know (as well as convince) the board members to help.

Two, that if we fail, we know that in practice the board listens more to corporate sponsors than to us.

Three, that we can determine all of this by simply WATCHING THE RESULTS.

The campaigns team tells us what they want us to think.

The results tell us what we actually know!

It’s a brand new year, where we can find out if the board will ever listen to peons like us.

“…Stallman matters to your bottom line.”Reinstate Stallman, cowards! Or watch your “stock” continue to plummet. We know we don’t matter to you — our de facto importance comes down to numbers and talking sense to people who are obviously listening to corporations, all day long. But Stallman matters to your bottom line.

As to what should matter more than votes, is the Mission of the FSF. But missions are always open to interpretations. Corporations like to reshape those interpretations (both in the minds of the board and the minds of the public) and it’s common for organizations like the FSF to stray from their mission and cling more to messaging and “awareness” campaigns as they get older.

For the FSF to hold to their mission means that someone has to put them on it again. Now go back and read it again — who do you think is going to get the FSF to return to their mission in earnest? Certainly not the corporate sponsors, are you kidding?

“It’s already too corporate, you’ll destroy it if you go that direction.”Hold them to it! Or, you can just keep throwing your money towards the bidding of their bigger sponsors. That’s a very Bill and Melinda thing to do, but the failed fundraiser shows that there’s more to the world than Bill and Melinda, eh?

I hope they’ve got your attention now, FSF Board. Now, don’t talk — prove that you heard them. Prove that you care about the Mission of the FSF — And DEFEND SOFTWARE FREEDOM. It’s about more than just fundraisers and worn-out rhetorical crap like “unity”, isn’t it?

Forget about the FSF for a minute — what are you going to actually DO for software freedom, this decade? Now, what is the FSF going to do to help? If it’s going to make the FSF yet more corporate, that really won’t help at all. It’s already too corporate, you’ll destroy it if you go that direction. Some think you’ve already started — does that even matter?

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0 Or Later)

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

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. The Demonisation and Stereotyping of Coders Not Working for Big Corporations (or 'The System')

    The war on encrypted communication (or secure communications) carries on despite a lack of evidence that encryption stands in the way of crime investigations (most criminals use none of it)



  2. On the 'Peak Hacker' Series

    Hacker culture, unlike Ludditism, is ultimately a movement for justice, for equality, and for human rights through personal and collective emancipation; Dr. Farnell has done a good job explaining where we stand and his splendid series has come to a close



  3. Links 23/1/2022: First RC of Linux 5.17 and Sway 1.7 Released

    Links for the day



  4. Peak Code — Part III: After Code

    "Surveillance perimeters, smart TVs (Telescreens built to Orwell's original blueprint) watched over our living rooms. Mandatory smart everything kept us 'trustless'. Safe search, safe thoughts. We withdrew. Inside, we went quietly mad."



  5. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, January 22, 2022

    IRC logs for Saturday, January 22, 2022



  6. Links 23/1/2022: MongoDB 5.2, BuddyPress 10.0.0, and GNU Parallel 20220122

    Links for the day



  7. A Parade of Fake News About the UPC Does Not Change the General Consensus or the Simple Facts

    European Patents (EPs) from the EPO are granted in violation of the EPC; Courts are now targeted by António Campinos and the minions he associates with (mostly parasitic litigation firms and monopolists), for they want puppets for “judges” and for invalid patents to be magically rendered “valid” and “enforceable”



  8. Welcome to 2022: Intentional Lies Are 'Benefits' and 'Alternative Facts'

    A crooks-run EPO, together with the patent litigation cabal that we’ve dubbed ‘Team UPC’ (it has nothing to do with science or with innovation), is spreading tons of misinformation; the lies are designed to make the law-breaking seem OK, knowing that Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos are practically above the law, so perjury as well as gross violations of the EPC and constitutions won’t scare them (prosecution as deterrence just isn’t there, which is another inherent problem with the UPC)



  9. From Software Eating the World to the Pentagon Eating All the Software

    “Software is eating the world,” according to Marc Andreessen (co-founder of Netscape), but the Empire Strikes Back (not the movie, the actual empire) by hijacking all code by proxy, via Microsoft, just as it grabbed a lot of the world’s communications via Skype, bypassing the world's many national telecoms; coders need to fight back rather than participate in racist (imperial) shams such as GitHub



  10. Links 22/1/2022: Skrooge 2.27.0 and Ray-Tracing Stuff

    Links for the day



  11. IRC Proceedings: Friday, January 21, 2022

    IRC logs for Friday, January 21, 2022



  12. Peak Code — Part II: Lost Source

    "Debian and Mozilla played along. They were made “Yeoman Freeholders” in return for rewriting their charters to “work closely with the new Ministry in the interests of all stakeholders” – or some-such vacuous spout… because no one remembers… after that it started."



  13. Links 22/1/2022: Ubuntu MATE 21.10 for GPD Pocket 3, MINISFORUM Preloads GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  14. Computer Users Should be Operators, But Instead They're Being Operated by Vendors and Governments

    Computers have been turned into hostile black boxes (unlike Blackbox) that distrust the person who purchased them; moreover, from a legislative point of view, encryption (i.e. computer security) is perceived and treated by governments like a threat instead of something imperative — a necessity for society’s empowerment (privacy is about control and people in positions of unjust power want total and complete control)



  15. Peak Code — Part I: Before the Wars

    Article/series by Dr. Andy Farnell: "in the period between 1960 and 2060 people had mistaken what they called "The Internet" for a communications system, when it had in fact been an Ideal and a Battleground all along - the site of the 100 years info-war."



  16. Links 21/1/2022: RISC-V Development Board and Rust 1.58.1

    Links for the day



  17. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, January 20, 2022

    IRC logs for Thursday, January 20, 2022



  18. Gemini Lets You Control the Presentation Layer to Suit Your Own Needs

    In Gemini (or the Web as seen through Gemini clients such as Kristall) the user comes first; it's not sites/capsules that tell the user how pages are presented/rendered, as they decide only on structural/semantic aspects



  19. The Future of Techrights

    Futures are difficult to predict, but our general vision for the years ahead revolves around more community involvement and less (none or decreased) reliance on third parties, especially monopolistic corporations, mostly because they oppress the population via the network and via electronic devices



  20. [Meme] UPC for CJEU

    When you do illegal things and knowingly break the law to get started with a “legal” system you know it’ll end up in tears… or the CJEU



  21. Links 20/1/2022: 'Pluton' Pushback and Red Hat Satellite 6.10.2

    Links for the day



  22. The Web is a Corporate Misinformation/Disinformation Platform, Biased Against Communities, Facts, and Science

    Misinformation/disinformation in so-called 'news' sites is a pandemic which spreads; in the process, the founder of GNU/Linux gets defamed and GNU/Linux itself is described as the problem, not the solution to the actual problems



  23. Links 20/1/2022: McKinsey Openwashing and Stable Kernels

    Links for the day



  24. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, January 19, 2022

    IRC logs for Wednesday, January 19, 2022



  25. Links 20/1/2022: Linuxfx 11.1 WxDesktop 11.0.3 and FreeIPMI 1.6.9 Released

    Links for the day



  26. Links 19/1/2022: XWayland 22.1 RC1 and OnlyOffice 7.0 Release

    Links for the day



  27. Links 19/1/2022: ArchLabs 2022.01.18 and KDE's 15-Minute Bug Initiative

    Links for the day



  28. When Twitter Protects Abusers and Abuse (and Twitter's Sponsors)

    Twitter is an out-of-control censorship machine and it should be treated accordingly even by those who merely "read" or "follow" Twitter accounts; Twitter is a filter, not a news/media platform or even means of communication



  29. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, January 18, 2022

    IRC logs for Tuesday, January 18, 2022



  30. Links 19/1/2022: Wine 7.x Era Begins and Istio 1.12.2 is Out

    Links for the day


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