Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why do free software organizations eliminate community representatives?

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Apr 15, 2024

[Article 3 years old]

Reprinted with permission from the Free Software Fellowship.

To understand that, contemplate buying a used car. If you hire an engineer to inspect the car, you don't want him to tell you what is good. The seller can probably tell you what is good about the car. What you really want to know is the worst case scenario, for example, maybe the seller doesn't really own the car or maybe it was written off by insurance.

When we have an engineer inspect a used car or a house, getting the truth might be uncomfortable for the seller.

The difference between a Code of Ethics and a Code of Conduct

Many professional organizations, such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) have a Code of Ethics. Their Code requires members to:

1.3 Be honest and trustworthy.

When the last FSFE Fellowship Representative advised donors that FSFE doesn't have the right to use the name FSF, he was fully compliant with the ACM Code of Ethics. This is much like reporting that somebody selling a used car isn't the real owner. Staying silent would be negligent.

Consider this line from the FSFE Code of Conduct:

we agree not to engage in discriminatory, disparaging or offensive speech

What happens when the truth is disparaging? For serious people, the ethical obligation to be honest and trustworthy was always more important. This is why the community is not permitted to vote for a representative any more.

Australian Senate ballot paper, kitten, mouse

Codes of Conduct are not comparable to a Code of Ethics. As many articles about how to recognize a cult tell us:

They will tell you how happy you will be in their group. Everyone in the cult always appears to be happy and enthusiastic, mainly because they have been told to act happy and will get in trouble if they don’t.

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