08.08.20

Gemini version available ♊︎

The THRIVE Guidelines

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 6:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

2020 figosdev

Index

Verbouwing
Chapter 12: The THRIVE Guidelines; Originally "How to THRIVE, in Uncertain Times for Free Software"

Summary: “Nobody is perfect, and it’s obvious that people already hold some to a more unreasonable interpretation of their standards than others.”

Apologies for the acronym: “To Help Realise Ideal Volunteer Efforts” (THRIVE).

These guidelines were written in late July 2019, before the FSF Titanic series or rms stepping down. The reaction I tend to expect to a list like this is: “Oh no, a Code of Conduct.”

The guidelines are barely about conduct anyway, they are more about process guidelines for “what to do with your autonomy” in the context of a larger group where participation is completely voluntary and each individual consents to participate.

“Nobody is perfect, and it’s obvious that people already hold some to a more unreasonable interpretation of their standards than others.”These are intended to assist, not to be imposed. Maybe a better way to consider them is as a sort of informal RFC. The thrive guidelines even have a own Code-of-Conduct Escape clause:

“Wherever these guidelines are misused to threaten community and development, they should be regarded with scrutiny — whenever these guidelines help create a foundation for purposeful development and progress, they should be considered thoughtfully.” This reinforces the idea that the guidelines are non-binding.

I will quote each of the ten guidelines one a time, and comment on each in the hopes of further clarification.

1. “Integrity and checks and balances are more valuable than false compromise.”

I’m fond of pointing out that just enough compromise can be wonderful, but too much can be devastating. Having more than one group working to maintain and improve the ecosystem means that if one authority (or respected group) goes sour, then others can speak up and offer a backup plan.

Fans of a single, centralised point of authority won’t like this. But, it is a recommendation. It is non-binding, so people who are against it simply won’t have anything to do with it. As I said elsewhere, for example:

“When we agree on something, we struggle together. When we can’t agree, we struggle apart. It’s very useful to find our commonalities, and understand our differences. For many of us, Stallman and freedom are two things we are not willing to compromise on.”

That isn’t a decision that a central authority needs to make. Many of us are not willing to bend on the Stallman issue (a reminder that this guideline predates the Stallman issue.) So we invite anybody who is willing to work with us despite not bending on that issue, do so. They don’t need to sign an oath of loyalty to Stallman, but if they ask us to do something unjust against him — that’s something we won’t do.

At that point, you have a schism — and you would actually have that schism anyway. The difference is that some of us are building something that is more schism-tolerant. Other points address this a little more directly.

2. “Ignoring your own standards, as well as taking rules too seriously, can compromise the integrity of your community. Many communities are already diminished along these lines.”

This is mostly a comment on the state of communities, and a recommendation to try to live up to your own community standards. Those who already oppose the imposition of a Code of Conduct can read this as: “If you have a Code of Conduct that expects certain behaviour of others, you are naturally expected to treat them just as well as you’re demanding of them.”

“Many have called for a certain large, corporation associated with a particular primary-coloured hue to apologise for their active role in the Holocaust.”Nobody is perfect, and it’s obvious that people already hold some to a more unreasonable interpretation of their standards than others. While suggesting that people not do that isn’t likely to cancel out any hypocrisy directly, this point at least comments on it.

3. “The corporate monopolies that promise to help resolve these problems, have a history of fundamental selfishness and interference. Giving these corporations too great a say in matters has helped them to destroy communities and stifle their efforts.”

This point comments on past mistakes, and also predates one of the best examples. Many have called for a certain large, corporation associated with a particular primary-coloured hue to apologise for their active role in the Holocaust. Yet one of their subsidiaries asks for an arguably more grassroots organisation to seize an opportunity for greater diversity.

You could argue this is the same point as the second one, addressed specifically to very large and powerful companies. While it is unlikely to change the course of those companies directly, it serves as a warning to those who would take their requests (and perhaps, their lip-service) too seriously.

4. “In practical terms, ‘working together’ means finding enough common ground for collaboration. It does not mean abandoning the principles or values of your own community.”

Some differences are worth working past. Other differences are simply worth accepting. Another way of saying this is that along with diversity of people, we should make it possible (whenever we can bring ourselves to do so) to include people with a diversity of opinions. In my own opinion, this is a strength that we were doing impressively well with, before all this corporate help showed up.

One only need look to Stallman to demonstrate how intolerant we’ve become of opinions — but that intolerance is a standing threat to all of us if we wish to work together and not be ridiculous when we use the word “inclusion.” While these guidelines are not meant to be imposed, if more people had taken them to heart, it would have possibly been more difficult to let Stallman suffer as much as we already have.

Not that I want you to think this is all about one example. What I really want you to do is think about how it would be for an entire community to start stoning you because of something you yourself were misquoted as saying by Forbes or ZDNet. All of these guidelines predate that incident, but many of these would have helped mitigate it.

“All of these guidelines predate that incident, but many of these would have helped mitigate it.”These really are anti-monopoly recommendations, for making communities hopefully more robust in the presence of well-organised social attacks. If you think you can create a better version, these guidelines are already in the public domain.

And people are going to argue for more centralisation, of course. Some people like centralisation and single-points-of-failure, because they think of control exclusively in terms of benefits, not costs. Decentralisation has costs as well.

Very few meaningful decisions are made without accumulating both costs and benefits. It’s really a question of what benefits are desirable and what costs are unacceptable. If you can accept a single-point-of-failure that guarantees a tragedy in the long run, there are some short-term benefits to say the very least.

5. “In dealing with both critics and allies, it is always more useful to look past the superficial — towards motivations, true nature and real effects. Society encourages the shallow evaluation of goods and services, as well as of people. Vital communities must do better in this regard than general society, if they wish to thrive. This is not intended to eliminate speculation, only to temper superficiality.”

Superficiality is a theme I’ve addressed in other articles on Techrights. Back when the “Free Software Federation” was more of a concept, these were guidelines on how people who want such a thing to work (this by no means assumes that everybody would want it to) could understand how to make it run smoothly enough.

A lot of it comes down to accepting differences, having more than a single venue for progress to be worked on, and working together when it makes sense. This is more robust because if you get Amish-shunned out of one community that has gotten a bit weird or been taken over, there are other places nearby where you can contribute instead.

It is also a strong suggestion that such schemes have gradually been proven necessary if we want Free software to continue to have the level of practical success it already had in the past. A lot of people already look around and realise that “something has gone terribly wrong.” You can be certain there will be people demanding that single-points-of-failure be reinforced by more monopolistic means.

“Another thing to think about the is the level of censorship and interference going on.”As recent history has shown us, when that happens it can leave us generally out of the loop — just sort of waiting for “permission” or a “cue” to get back to business as usual, while we try to figure out how to respond or move forward, without much in the way of means to do so. A reasonable word for that effect is “devastation.” It’s good to ask if we would have that level of devastation right now, if we had found a way to make Free software (as a movement) “more robust” or as I keep saying, “more decentralised.”

In the past, we had collaboration schemes as loosely defined as something called a “web ring.” Today, a “mesh network” would be a resilient structure more worthy of consideration than a “ring” (which was often maintained by a single person, albeit one who was very open to all sorts of people joining and adding their website.)

So you could, if you wanted to maybe overhype the idea, call this an “early version of a social protocol for a voluntary organisational mesh network.” But just calling it the “THRIVE Guidelines” is probably a lot more reasonable.

Another thing to think about the is the level of censorship and interference going on. In security terms, this should be part of our threat model:

“The FSF (Boston) is at least somewhat compromised, and FSFE is (as I already thought) more compromised.”I’m referring to this sort of behaviour from large corporations.

I’m also referring to this sort of behaviour from our beloved non-profits.

And even in the example of the FSF and FSFE:

“In 2018, FSFE used these tactics to make it appear that nobody supported elections any more.”

“In 2019, rogue elements of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) staff used the same tactics to undermine their own founder, Richard Stallman.”

NOW, if we can’t even even trust the FSF to prevent this sort of thing, and if their own objectives are being compromised by the (completely unjustified — as in there is simply no good reason given) censoring of mailing-lists, what exactly do we do?

When I wrote about the need to create lifeboats for the same organisation prior to a great tragedy — which happened not 30 days later, as things turn out — I wasn’t doing that because I thought it would make a great story. I was doing it for exactly the reason it said on the tin:

A. The FSF is vulnerable.
B. The FSF is vulnerable.
C. The FSF is vulnerable.

The most obvious way around this (mission-damaging) censorship (a topic Daniel Pocock knows more about than I do — I comment on the things he goes into great detail about — with actual facts and evidence that I had only expected to come out eventually) is to have more communication, interconnection and organisation between autonomous “nodes” of this movement.

As it happens, such nodes already existed. The FSF (Boston) is at least somewhat compromised, and FSFE is (as I already thought) more compromised. I don’t even think the other FSF chapters are prepared to defend everything the FSFE is doing right now.

So who is going to hold the FSFE accountable on these matters? Their members? The FSFE is (according to what I gather from reading the things Pocock says, but not to put these words in his mouth) manipulating its members with an almost Facebook-like tactic. I’m surprised, but not shocked that it has come to that.

A federation that cares about Free software has the potential to “route around” not only mailing-list censorship, but even the corruption that happens at the very top of these organisations. But it loses that flexibility if we try too hard to “unite” under the same bad ideas. It is the redundancy that creates the robust nature of what we are doing.

If you’ve ever tried to write code that uses concurrency, you know that such things are a little less intuitive. This sort of redundancy is also less intuitive, so to make it more accessible to more people, we have these recommendations.

Now, where do we get future coders from? From time to time, some people express concern about the “aging” of their developer force. This means that people capable of contributing either aren’t allowed to join, aren’t aware of the opportunity to join, aren’t interested in joining — or don’t even exist.

One way to address all of those points is with education:

6. “Without some greater commitment to the needs and education of users, Free software will soon lose too much ground to corporations that falsely pander to them. This is not a call to make everything ‘user friendly.’ As a user, you are free to develop on your own terms. There are still areas in which progress could be made regarding development.”

Should we allow repos (such as F-Droid) to be balkanised over political differences? Maybe not:

7. “It is better to have communities divided over politics than to have software development and repos hijacked and repurposed by a single political faction.”

How can a federated community help prevent such hijacking of repos? With a (relatively) neutral 3rd (or 3rd, 4th and 5th) party:

8. When communities with valuable contributions become divided over political differences, umbrella communities and organisations are a positive way to invite long-term resolution. Haste and superficial resolution are less positive, though “first step” efforts will hopefully count for something.

But false compromise is once again warned against — due to the amount of it I think we’ve already witnessed. We always want to enable cooperation where we can, without introducing false compromises and bad compromises. Freedom of course, produces differences:

9. “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 from other communities.”

If you need permission to comment, we really have dramatically changed as a movement. Point 9 says more than that, but this is a point worth reiterating at this time.

But what about the users? What should we do for them? The user of today may one day become the ally of tomorrow. So maybe, let’s one way to set a good example for our future is:

10. Communities should avoid, as much as possible and practical, efforts to lock other users into their software or distributions. The more important and popular (and fundamental) the software is, the more modular and optional and flexible the software should ideally be. Even the distro itself should become more modular and universal — via thoughtful design conventions, rather than rigid and demanding standards. But when in doubt, refer to points 5 and 9.

If you’ve read the FSF Titanic series [note: this book is an update to that series for the year 2020] there are many more comments on making this sort of thing possible.

As for this list of recommendations — you can think of it as being told what to do, no matter how much someone stresses that the idea is nothing of the sort. On the other hand, I would say that it’s unfair to ask people to do something complicated and revolutionary without providing some real suggestions as to how it could be possible.

These guidelines were one of the first steps (predating, and even helping to inspire the FSF Titanic series) towards providing those real suggestions.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

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. By 2022 0% of 'News' Coverage About Patents Will Be Actual Journalism (Patent Litigation Sector Has Hijacked the World Wide Web to Disseminate Self-Promotional Misinformation)

    Finding news about the EPO is almost impossible because today’s so-called ‘news’ sites are in the pockets of Benoît Battistelli, António Campinos, and their cohorts who turned the EPO into a hub of litigation, not science; this is part of an international (worldwide) problem because financial resources for journalism have run out, and so the vacuum is filled/replaced almost entirely by Public Relations (PR) and marketing



  2. Trying to Appease Those Who Never Liked Free Software or Those Who Blindly Loved All Patent Monopolies to Begin With

    It’s crystal clear that trying to appease everyone, all the time, is impossible; in the case of the EPO, for example, we hope that exposing Team Battistelli/Campinos helps raise awareness of the harms of patent maximalism, and when speaking about Free software — whilst occasionally bashing the alternatives (proprietary) — we hope to convince more people to join the “Good Fight”



  3. Links 28/11/2021: Laravel 8.73 Released, GitHub Offline for Hours

    Links for the day



  4. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, November 27, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, November 27, 2021



  5. Links 27/11/2021: Nvidia’s DLSS Hype and Why GNU/Linux Matters

    Links for the day



  6. [Meme] Linus Gabriel Sebastian Takes GNU/Linux for a (Tail)'Spin'

    If you’re trying to prove that GNU/Linux is NOT Windows, then “haha! Well done…”



  7. GNU/Linux is for Freedom and It'll Gain Many Users When (or Where) People Understand What Software (or Computing) Freedom Means

    Software that respects people's freedom (and by extension privacy as well) is an alluring proposition; those who choose to try GNU/Linux for the wrong reasons are likely the wrong target audience for advocates



  8. Amid Reports of Microsoft's Competition Crimes in Europe...

    European companies are complaining, but they seem to overlook the principal aspect of an imperialistic system with bottomless pockets (almost 30 trillion dollars in debt already; US national debt soared again last month); Microsoft is shielded by a political system with military (“defence”) as bailout budget to help cushion international expansion for data grab and technical leverage, as we've seen in the case of EPO (this is all political, not technical, and should thus be treated as a political/corruption issue)



  9. Is Linus Trolling the GNU/Linux Community?

    This new video responds to what many sites have been provoked into amplifying



  10. Links 27/11/2021: Tux Paint 0.9.27 and SeaMonkey 1.1.19 in EasyOS

    Links for the day



  11. [Meme] Keeping Our Distance From Microsoft

    The OSI is the dagger, the Linux Foundation is the knife, and many others are the sword by which Microsoft tries to get into the very heart of GNU/Linux and extinguish the Free software movement



  12. Microsoft Edge Encourages Indebted Americans to Guilt-spend Just in Time for Christmas

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  13. IRC Proceedings: Friday, November 26, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, November 26, 2021



  14. 38+ Years of GNU and 19+ Years of FSF Associate Membership

    “On November 25, 2002,” Wikipedia notes, “the FSF launched the FSF Associate Membership program for individuals.” As the above video points out, it all started almost 40 years ago.



  15. Gemini as a Platform for Gamers

    Contrary to what people often assume (or are led to assume), even without client-side scripting Gemini can accomplish a great deal; early adopters, many of whom are technical, test the limits of the very minimalistic (by design and intention) specification



  16. Improved Workflows: Achievement Unlocked

    Today we've completed a bunch of small projects that can make us more efficient (e.g. more Daily Links per day, more articles); the above video was recorded many hours ago to accompany the outline below



  17. Links 26/11/2021: New Complaint About Microsoft Competition Crimes in Europe, EuroLinux 8.5, GhostBSD 21.11.24, and Kiwi TCMS 10.5 Released

    Links for the day



  18. Links 26/11/2021: F35 Elections, Whonix 16.0.3.7, OSMC's November Refresh With Kodi 19.3

    Links for the day



  19. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, November 25, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, November 25, 2021



  20. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, November 24, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, November 24, 2021



  21. Links 25/11/2021: PHP 8.1.0 Released and Linux 5.15.5

    Links for the day



  22. IBM as Master of Hypocrisy

    Free software projects and Free software developers have long been humiliated by corporations of Western misogynists, falsely claiming that the Free software community isn’t inclusive enough (these are shameless projection tactics; as a matter of public record, the exact opposite is true) and even the eradication of supposedly offensive language isn’t something IBM takes seriously



  23. Links 25/11/2021: LibreOffice 7.2.3 and Mesa 21.2.6 Released

    Links for the day



  24. [Meme] So Desperate That Edge Cannot Even Exceed 4% That They Block Rival Web Browsers

    Linux/Android/Free Software/GNU (they go by very many names/brands) may continue to grow to the point where Windows is as irrelevant as Blackberry; this means that Microsoft’s grip on the Web too has slipped — to the point where Microsoft frantically uses 'bailout' money to hijack LinkedIn, GitHub, etc. (it also rebrands almost everything as "Azure" or clown to fake a perception of growth)



  25. Windows Vista Service Pack 11 (Vista 11) Has Failed to Curb the Growth of GNU/Linux

    Windows market share continues to decrease in spite of billions of dollars spent bribing the media for fake hype, especially in light of a new Windows Service Pack (SP), Vista SP 11



  26. Links 25/11/2021: Proton 6.3-8 and Linux Mint Compared to Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  27. 3.5 Years Later the 'Master' of Fedora is Still Microsoft and IBM Cannot Be Bothered to Alter Git Branch Names (Refuting or Ignoring Its Very Own Directive About Supposedly Racially-Insensitive Terms)

    Today we demonstrate the hypocrisy of IBM; years after telling us that we should shun the term "master" and repeatedly insisting it had a racist connotation at least 65 Fedora repositories, still controlled by Microsoft, still use "master"



  28. Changing the Arrangement While News is a Bit Slow(er)

    I've made it easier for myself to keep abreast of things like IRC channels and networks (incidentally, a day ago Freenode reopened to anonymous logins) and I've improved monitoring of the Web sites, Gemini capsule etc. (this video is unplanned and improvised)



  29. Links 24/11/2021: Alpine Linux 3.15 and Endless OS 4.0 Released

    Links for the day



  30. [Meme] Jimmy Zemlin Loves Microsoft

    It’s funny, isn’t it? Lying for a living and sucking up to the liars pays off; you get to plunder actual Linux users while leaving Linux morally and financially bankrupt


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