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Re: Turning GNU into a bottom-up organization

From: Brandon Invergo
Subject: Re: Turning GNU into a bottom-up organization
Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2019 15:19:56 +0100
User-agent: Evolution 3.34.1

On Mon, 2019-10-21 at 17:08 +0200, Mark Wielaard wrote:
> In practice GNU already is mostly a bottom-up organization, where the
> GNU hackers that do the actual work shape the project, but it would be
> nice to make it more formally so.

As I have already described to you and the others elsewhere, this is a false
depiction of how GNU is organized.  I'll copy the text below as a reminder.

The main message of that original text was that if you are genuinely worried
about GNU there is a ton of stuff that you can do today, no revolution
necessary.  However, the general problem is that everyone is more interested in
talking about the future of GNU than doing the actual work to keep it alive

Also, Richard has already stated that he will not enact any radical changes, so
this discussion is moot anyway.

What I wrote previously:
I keep seeing the comment (including on the wider web) that GNU is
nothing more than a bunch of packages with maintainers and, somewhere
floating in the ether above them, rms.  As a result, the perception is
that GNU is somehow organizationally undefined.

While package maintainers undoubtedly comprise the bulk of formal
volunteers to the GNU project, saying that they are the entirety outside
of rms is disrespectful to the hard work put in by all the volunteers
that help the good ship GNU keep afloat through other means.

Off the top of my head:

gnueval: They tirelessly evaluate all of the software that gets offered
to GNU.  This is a long and arduous process for each package.

gnueval-security: They evaluate any particular security-related matters
in new software offered to GNU.  Again, this can be a lot of work.

gnu-advisory: They handle difficult and sensitive cases of conflict
within the project.  They often occasionally are given in-depth research
tasks by rms.  They must generally be on-hand for rms as needed.  They handle appointing new co-maintainers, finding
new maintainers for packages when old maintainers step down, chasing
down maintainers of stale/moribund packages, diffusing conflicts,
monitoring the health of packages in general, keeping an eye on major
breaks from policy by packages (e.g. recommending non-free software),
and lots of other things that I'm forgetting at the moment.

webmasters: Obvious

Translators for Obvious

Savannah hackers: They keep a core part of our infrastructure running.
They also have to evaluate new non-GNU software that wishes to be hosted
on Savannah.  They interface with to make sure that
maintainers are fully set up on Savannah to carry out their jobs.

GNU Education Team: They are working towards adoption of GNU & Free
Software in schools.

GNU Hacker Meeting organization: Generally done by whoever steps up to
organize in any given year, but someone needs to do it.

GSoC organization: As with GNU Hacker Meetings (but usually the same

Yes, granted, in many cases those jobs are carried out by people who are
also maintainers, but the point is that there is much more to keeping
GNU running than just maintaining a collection of software packages.  I
don't expect people from outside of GNU to be aware of it but it would
be nice if maintainers didn't spread the impression that there is no
work going on in GNU other than software maintenance.

Unless perhaps all of that work happening in the background is going so
smoothly and the maintainers are able to focus so peacefully on their
own projects that it goes completely unnoticed and unappreciated? :)

Of course, if I told the 400+ maintainers just how much overlap there is
in volunteers between those various teams and how high the attrition
rate is due to burnout...

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