application for FSFE e.V. membership and resignation

Harald Welte laforge at
Thu Aug 30 05:44:42 UTC 2018

Hi Daniel,

On Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 10:12:14PM +0100, Daniel Pocock wrote:
> If the abusive termination of somebody's membership by underhanded means
> doesn't deserve a firm response, what does?

Nobody argues against a *firm* response.  You can be firm while still
using constructive wording/language.

> I would be just as outraged if any other member was subjected to similar
> tactics by FSFE's executive and as fellowship representative, I would be
> speaking up in their defence.

I don't think there's anywhere near as much tactics or conspiracy behind
it as you think.

The point is, that the ultimate FSFE body responsible for making decision
(the General Assembly) has cast a vote to change the internal structure
of the organization, right?  It is your right to protest against that,
but ultimately, unless a majority of voting members is convinced by your
arguments ahead of the vote, the decision is made.

It seems that you neither attended the 2017 GA, nor delegated your vote,
while the Agenda (which I suppose was delivered as part of the GA invitation)
clearly lists two topics directly related to the fellowship representative.

So when looking at the record, a body of which you have been a member has
decided to remove that role by a vote, and you didn't cast or delegate your

> > What you are conveying with this kind of messages (to me) is that you
> > feel personally injured and that you'd like to get as much attention
> > to that.
> No, it is not about attention.  As somebody else commented, that looks
> like another attempt at character assassination.

I am not attempting anything like that, I was merely reflecting on what
impression your e-mails, blog-posts etc. of the past months are creating
to me personally.

> I simply feel that I have an obligation to the people who I agreed to
> represented to tell the truth about the organization, for better or
> worse.  

It is obvious that you have that feeling, as you have expressed in many
ways.  However, is that (subjective) feeling backed by actual support of
at least a reasonable number of the former fellows and now supporters?

> How come we never hear anybody suggesting that Tank Man was a selfish
> attention seeker?

I am sorry, I don't get the cultural reference / analogy here.  I have
no understanding who Tank Man is or was.

> > As a side note, to put things into some perspective: To me, from the
> > very beginning of the fellowship establishment, it was always *very*
> > clear that being a fellow is not equal to being a voting member of the
> > legal entity (e.V.).  This model is quite commonly used in German
> > e.V.'s, so no surprise at all.
> As the "E" in FSFE is for Europe and many members are outside Germany,
> that may not be obvious to many of the people who have come into contact
> with FSFE.

That's correct.  However, all related documents of FSFE have to my knowledge
always been available in translated form to (at least) English.

> Original posts about the fellowship do talk about it being a class of
> membership and words like "join" have frequently been used.

Yes, a "supporting membership" is not a "voting membership" and of course
you can join an entity in any kind of role.  I'm confident that at no
point it was marketed as "become a voting/general member of the legal entity"?

> At least one article[1] in Linux Magazine talks about fellows having a
> vote at the GA after 12 months.  

That is of course unfortunate, but if you have ever dealt with press, you
will notice that often it is inaccurate and not representing facts correctly
due to inadequate research or misunderstandings.  It would be useful if
somebody had noticed it at that time to request a rebuttal/correction.

> It is remarkable to look at the way
> fellows are described there and in this post[2] and then read Erik's
> recent post[3] suggesting fellows are no more than another corporate
> donor who didn't deserve elections any more.

You cannot compare third party publications with publications of FSFE itself.
Any third party can have written anything.  The point is, whether or not
the FSFE has ever in an way indicated that the fellowship is about becoming
a regular/voting member of the legal entity.

> > What I am missing in your communication and related threads is the clear
> > evidence that a reasonable number of "fellows" are actually supporting
> > your position in these arguments.  Without the clear support from at
> > least a number of fellows, I think your argument is moot.
> One other fact that is not made public anywhere is that
> membership/fellowship numbers started dropping at the end of last year. 
> We are talking about hundreds of people who stopped participating in the
> program, that is a fact.  I don't know if those people sent a reason and
> if they didn't, we can only guess: was it because the change from
> "fellow" to "supporter" feels like a downgrade?  Did some of them see
> the motion passed at the annual general meeting (October) to begin the
> process of removing elections?  I suspect the former has had more impact
> than the latter.

That may or may not be the case.  I agree you have an argument there, but
you are drawing those conclusions yourself.  My question was whether or not
a real number of fellows/supporters have actually asked you to represent
them in that way.

> Many people agree that there is a lot of good work being done at FSFE
> and that is why people are frustrated about the governance issues, every
> time there is some change (e.g. renaming fellows to supporters,
> cancelling elections, ...) a few more people silently quit.  

This is your interpretation.  Without an "exit poll", nobody can know.

One could equally argue that every time you proceed with communication that
some people find non-constructive, they think they don't want to contribute
to an entity that has a lack of proper discussion culture and that has such
open fights / flame-wars.

I'm not saying this is my position, I'm just showing you that in absence of
hard facts, we have no clue as to why which fellows/supporters have left.

> Instead of choosing to stop supporting FSFE, I would encourage people to
> come to Berlin on 7 October for the annual general meeting[4] and ask to
> be accepted as equal members.

I am not sure if this is constructive.  I think the one year between the two
General Assemblies (2017 and 2018) would have ben the time for anyone to
voice their concerns to the FSFE, whether or not via the fellowship

So far, I'm mostly hearing one voice.  The key aspect (to me) is: How
many fellows/supporters really have voiced concerns, protested, or in any
other way disagreed with the related motions of the 2016 GA.

- Harald Welte <laforge at> 
"Privacy in residential applications is a desirable marketing option."
                                                  (ETSI EN 300 175-7 Ch. A6)

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