Structure of FSFE

Stefano Maffulli stef at
Thu Apr 26 13:05:27 UTC 2007

On Thu, 2007-04-26 at 01:11 +0200, Sean DALY wrote:
> Although 2K EUR may not seem like a lot in some contexts (ten years
> ago I managed an IT purchasing budget of 1.1MM USD), for a
> resource-challenged organisation like the FSFE it *is* a lot. 

Sean, you and my colleagues in FSFE are missing what IMHO is the real
and only point.

It's clear that FSFE doesn't have money spare and it can't give money to
third parties easily.  But things are rarely black or white.  Dozza
wasn't asking simply for money from FSFE. You can read his message as a
request for help.

He was really asking that FSFE took the leadership of a global,
worldwide activity to defend open standards from being tainted with a
not-so-open standard.  In Dozza's mind, an organization that is so big
and growing so fast (see the growth of income in the last 3 years:
~80Keuro, ~120Keuro, ~260Keuro) should be capable of taking such role of
leader and put the money where its mouth is.  

Dozza, was convinced that with the credibility and the network of
contacts of the big FSFE, finding 2500euro would have been a matter
of making one single phone call to a couple of people. (1)   FSFE has
those contacts and is an expert in the field (having talked about
interoperability in the EU antitrust case for years now).

Georg took responsibility of managing the opposition to OXML for FSFE,
since FSFE team couldn't find anybody else to do the job.  And here I
perfectly see the reason for Georg's answer "FSFE can't help you":
scarce resources!

Not money, that's not it.  But time and concentration.  

FSFE team members are all running low on fuel lately, regardless of the
higher cash injection.  Or probably because of the increased load
generated by the higher cash: more employees, 3 offices in 3 different
countries to manage, new projects financed by EU (which require high
bureaucracy), new division (FTF), the problems with the IT department
(server crashes and slowness of, the resignation of the Head
of Office ... you name it. FSFE team and ga is under lots of pressure,
the highest pressure since its foundation.  More money will not relieve
the pressure in the long run, improving the existing structure will.

The organizational structure of FSFE was thought to be lean and fast,
perfect for fast growing groups.  It had rough edges, and many people
knew it. But we all decided to take care of such details later.  

IMHO the time has come to adapt the organizational structure to the
changed environment.  Some of the remodeling has already started
internally, but IMO it should and can be done faster and better: Europe
and the European free sw community needs a strong and solid FSFE, with a
solid ans scalable organizational structure.  


(1) Davide Dozza found the money with a couple of phone calls, that same

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