The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is hemorrhaging board members and management following the reinstatement of Richard Stallman. The GPL author and founder of the FSF announced last week that he had rejoined the board and is not planning to resign a second time. An open letter signed by more than 3,000 people called for the removal of Stallman from all leadership positions, including the GNU project, and removal of the entire Board of the FSF. So far it has gained support from Red hat, Mozilla, Outreachy, the Software Conservancy project, and many other high profile organizations.
“We are long past the point where we can pretend that the most important thing about software freedom is the software,” Mozilla Engineering Community Manager Michael Hoye said in signing support for the open letter. “We cannot demand better from the internet if we do not demand better from our leaders, our colleagues and ourselves.”
In addition to the resignation of former FSF board member Kat Walsh, the organization’s executive director, deputy director, and chief technology officer have also resigned. They published a joint statement, reaffirming their commitment to the mission of free software, despite their departure:
As members of FSF management, we have decided to resign, with specific end dates to be determined. We believe in the importance of the FSF’s mission and feel a new team will be better placed to implement recent changes in governance. Free software and copyleft are critical issues of our time, and the FSF is, and should continue to be, the organization leading this movement. FSF staff have our utmost respect, support, and appreciation, and it has been a privilege to work with you all. Our team’s mutual goal is to ensure a smooth transition while supporting the necessary renovation of the foundation’s governance.
An oddly-timed tweet announced a new published statement the FSF board voted on, which “condemns misogyny, racism, and other bigotry as well as defamation, intimidation, and unfair attacks on free thought and speech.” The statement was met with ridicule and outrage on Twitter, as it hints at the defense Stallman used when he resigned as the FSF board director, claiming he had been subject to “a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.”
Recent statements published to the FSF website indicate that its leadership is doubling down on the decision to reinstate Stallman:
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This article was written by Sarah Gooding and originally published on WordPress Tavern.