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Re: [Fsfe-uk] AFFS strategy (Was: Beyond bitching...)

From: Tom Chance
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] AFFS strategy (Was: Beyond bitching...)
Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 17:26:17 +0100
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On Wednesday 29 Jun 2005 16:43, Alex Hudson wrote:
> On Wed, 2005-06-29 at 16:25 +0100, Graham Seaman wrote:
> > Flaming aside, I'm now getting quite puzzled. I'd understand a
> > 'membership organization' as being one run by its members.
> Yup; in our case, we elect an annual ctte, but there are other ways of
> doing it. We're setup pretty much as a traditional voluntary org.
> > Who I assumed were on this mailing list (even if permanently lurking).
> Ah, that's probably where I'd differ - this mailing list is about free
> software in the UK; it's not run or managed by the AFFS, nor is its
> subscribership the membership. So, although I imagine we have a fair
> number of members on this list, I wouldn't consider communication on
> this list to be communication with our members.
> > Are there actually large numbers of members not on the list?  If so,
> > shouldn't the first step in improving communication and levels of
> > involvement be to try to get them to join the list?
> I don't know what percentage of subscribers are members, but I'm not
> sure it's terribly high - conversely, I suspect that a good proportion
> of our members aren't even lurking here.

I find the notion of members totally confusing as well. There are many 
hundreds or thousands of people in the UK using, contributing to and 
advocating free software. If the aim of the AFFS is, as the website suggests, 
to "to promote the freedom of computer users in the UK through free 
software", then in a sense all of those people are "members". IMHO membership 
is a fairly artificial thing tacked on to give tangible benefits to those who 
donate money to fund the AFFS' activities. Maybe UKFSN users are members too?

Just because of my political and ethical beliefs, I'd like to see the AFFS 
embrace a radically decentralised, grassroots approach to achieving its aims.

If that isn't what people presently involved want, then the alternative is to 
retain a traditional NGO structure, and try to institutionalise the AFFS so 
that it can make effective dialogue with governmental organisations, whilst 
providing an umbrella structure for related organisations and a route for 
representation for busy free software users/contributors/advocates. I think 
that this is what Alex is suggesting?


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