[FOSDEM] groups missing a booth because of FSFE

Daniel Pocock daniel at pocock.pro
Mon Jan 28 12:35:05 CET 2019

On 14/09/2018 18:33, virgilva at keemail.me wrote:
> 14. Sep 2018 14:08 by JFoster at luxoft.com <mailto:JFoster at luxoft.com>:
>     Hi Virgil,
>     There are some facts that are incorrect in your email.
>     1. FSFE is not a 'business', its a charity. This is a legal
>     designation. From the FSFE; "Free Software Foundation Europe is a
>     charity that empowers users to control technology."
>     2. The staff are not de-facto 'shareholders', there are no shares to
>     hold. Some are volunteers.
>     3. FSFE calls their members 'fellows', there are many more fellows
>     than 20. 
> It says fellows never were members, there are no more fellows, sorry
> https://danielpocock.com/an-fsfe-fellowship-representatives-dilemma
> we were fooled
> 9 staff can make meeting in Berlin and delete fellows from the
> constitution?  That is charity?
> All my friends stop with FSFE now

A number of people asked me to comment on this in my official capacity
as the former FSFE Fellowship Representative.  I avoided doing so for
various reasons:

- I have great confidence in the FOSDEM team making good decisions, they
already know most of what goes on and I doubt that anything I add could
help them do much better,

- I have a conflict of interest as I'm involved in multiple groups that
have a FOSDEM presence, so I didn't want to say anything before booth

However, there is one thing that makes me feel compelled to speak up:
even after completely resigning from FSFE in disgust, I continued to
receive threats from Matthias Kirschner, the organization's president,
as he tried to control me.

"Safety of the community" is a hot topic these days in many free
software communities.  Many people encounter FSFE for the first time at
FOSDEM so it is important for them to be aware that community
representation has been abolished, threats were used to push out the
last remaining representative and it is now every man for himself, with
some getting a lot further[1] than others.

Kirschner has continued to act vindictively, amongst other things,
undermining my own work as a developer in other projects.  Given that
FOSDEM is about development, it will be sad to see professional
campaigners there who put their own personal agenda ahead of the developers.

Many people point out that FSFE makes great merchandise, but when I
explain that in 2016 they had revenues[2] of EUR 649,000 and only spent
5% on producing merchandise, less than their "basic infrastructure
cost", people start asking where the rest goes.  The transparency page
and annual reports are surprisingly opaque.

I'd encourage people who want to contribute their time and money to free
software organizations to use FOSDEM as an opportunity to speak to
different groups, get to know people and work out which groups are best
to contribute to.  Contributing to a local group where you can get
involved as a member, be invited to meetings and have an equal vote
increases the chances that your money will have the impact you hope for.


Former FSFE Fellowship representative

1. https://fsfellowship.eu/2019/01/26/fsfe-behavior-standards.html
2. https://fsfe.org/about/funds/2016.en.html

Debian Developer

More information about the FOSDEM mailing list