"joining" the FSFE

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Mon Oct 2 15:38:26 UTC 2017

On Monday 2. October 2017 10.13.24 Daniel Pocock wrote:
> Proposed motion:
> The GA recognizes that the widespread use of the word "Join" on the FSFE
> web site may have caused many fellows and volunteers to believe their
> payment made them a member of the incorporated association.  The GA
> resolves that a notice should be published on the web site clarifying
> the situation, the notice should be sent to everybody who completed the
> form to "Join the FSFE" and any future communication, through the web
> site or other marketing materials should make it unambiguous whether
> people are being solicited to join the incorporated association,
> volunteer their time or become a financial supporter and also making
> them aware of the alternative roles they can have in the organization.

I support what you are trying to achieve here. Other organisations label such 
roles as "supporters". For example:


In such organisations, one may be left with the impression that the 
organisation primarily wants donations to help their work. There is no 
indication that anyone is "joining" as some policy-influencing participant. 
(The organisation given above does also have some volunteer activities, 
however. It also hosts projects that have their own democratic directions.)

Again, the FSFE should be clear about what it wants from people who "join" 
(money, time, expertise), and the organisation should be a venue where 
contributions of whatever kind are maximised. I specifically started my 
involvement with the FSFE instead of continuing to contribute to the FFII (if 
people even remember that) because of the more obvious indications of 
collaboration within what the FSFE were doing: it seemed more like a community 
of people acting together than a way of financially supporting those who 
needed to influence policy-makers for some stated reason.

As you note in one of your other motions, there are various threats to Free 
Software that need to be resisted directly by organisations like the FSFE. The 
FSFE could provide a venue for people to collaborate in this regard so that, 
for example, people might know where they would discuss and even work on 
alternatives to proprietary communications technologies.

Unfortunately, current venues of discussion (like this mailing list) are 
limited to providing an audience towards whom people may pitch their ideas and 
products, worthy or otherwise, with the effect being at best that people feel 
that they are "doing something" if they voice their support or go off and 
pledge some money. That may fit in with some people's vision for the 
organisation, but it isn't what I had in mind when I signed up.


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