Balance relationships with companies (Re: Who talks at conference for Free Software?)

Bernhard E. Reiter bernhard at
Fri Jun 28 12:55:20 UTC 2019

Am Freitag 14 Juni 2019 16:50:05 schrieb Paul Boddie:
> It can be tempting to collaborate with companies in order to
> advance a common agenda, not least because those companies will have people
> on staff who can do some of the tedious work that volunteers might
> otherwise have to do. But then you have to make sure that it isn't the FSFE
> who ends up advancing a particular company's agenda.

This is one of the important aspects of FSFE's work:
We need to keep the the different interests in mind
and make sure they are balanced. It is a challenge.

Companies and other organisations are taking part in Free Software 
communities, other may oppose them. Many companies consists of different 
branches. Some are more inclined towards Free Software others are not. 
Same with people working there.

In order to spread knowledge about Free Software and to convince people,
it makes sense to be positive towards actions, departments, business decisions 
and people that display openess towards Free Software and to applaud good
steps, while still criticising bad one. This is a stance FSFE is taking in 
general: We believe that voicing criticism is necessary sometimes, while
we probably reach better results if we reward steps in the right direction.

> It may indeed be wonderful that those companies support Free Software, but
> when one of them is Facebook, it is a reasonable question to ask whether
> the brochure legitimises Facebook by giving the company a favourable,
> progressive portrayal more than it helps Free Software or reflects the
> ethics of much of the Free Software community. 

When searching for Facebook on our Public Money? Public Code! Brochure
I'll only find "Facebook" being mentioned in Fernanda Weiden's short biography 
as her current workplace. Fernanda has done a lot for Free Software and FSFE
even before she had worked for Facebook, so this is about a person foremost.
(Facebook, just like the companies IBM, Microsoft and Google contribute quite 
significant amount code as Free Software and interact with the communities. 
Applaudable even if they do bad things in other areas.)

Seriously, I think that if we did not include who people are working for, 
someone would criticise us for not "disclosing" this potential conflict of 
interest. >:) Now readers can make up their minds from the article.
This is good practice with the more serious scientific journals as well.

> I decided not to continue supporting the FSFE financially.

Sad to see you stop donating. 
Thanks for the support to far!
We hope to win you back some day!

(Our supporters and donors allow us to do more work and stay independent
of single company donors!)

Best Regards,
FSFE -- Founding Member     Support our work for Free Software: | contribute
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