The FSF Clarifies Richard Stallman’s Role

The FSF Clarifies Richard Stallman’s Role
Published on May 01, 2021 at 04:34PM
Long-time Slashdot reader destinyland writes:

This week the Free Software Foundation posted some new answers to frequently-asked questions “as the FSF board sets about the work of strengthening the Foundation’s governance structure.” The FAQ notes that most of their financial support comes from individuals, and that “At this moment, the FSF has more associate members than at any time in its history,” adding that it’s in good financial health. (And the FAQ also reminds readers that all board members are uncompensated volunteers.)

But it also confirms that a seat on the board was created for union staff “in the aftermath of the March 2021 controversy over the election of Richard Stallman to the board.” And apparently in light of Stallman’s return, the first question is “What are the responsibilities of a member of the FSF board?”

Answer: The board of directors does not usually deal with the everyday work of the FSF, focusing instead on the long-term direction and financial stability of the Foundation, as well as the appointment of the officers. In addition, members of the board do not speak for the board or for the FSF. Outside of the deliberations of the board, they are private citizens. The right to speak for the Foundation is reserved to the president of the FSF and other FSF officers, such as the executive director.

When the board does make statements, each statement is carefully deliberated. No one member has this individual authority.

The FAQ also clarifies that while Stallman is also a voting board member, “Voting member meetings normally discuss only who should be on the board. They do not take up the issues that come before the board itself… When the Foundation was formed in 1985, the founders were advised that, to qualify for a tax exemption, board members should not be chosen solely by other board members. Legal counsel advised the founders that there should be two bodies with some overlap, one being the active board and the other being a body that appointed the active board.

“Governance standards have since changed, and this structure is no longer required. As part of the effort to improve FSF governance, the board can consider possible changes to this overall structure.”

It also adds that “There is no formal term limit for a board member. Board members are evaluated by the voting members at regular intervals, and occasionally by the other directors.”

The last question on the list? “In addition to holding a board seat, what other role or roles does Richard Stallman play in the FSF?”

The answer? “Richard Stallman frequently gives talks on free software, in his personal capacity, and, when he does so, he sells merchandise from the FSF shop, recruits volunteers for FSF and GNU, and raises donations for FSF. He is the primary author and editor of two books sold by the FSF.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Håkan Dahlström
I am Håkan Dahlström, a photographer living in Malmö, Sweden.
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