Josh Berkus's platform on political activity, was: money handling

Josh Berkus josh at
Mon Jul 17 17:37:16 UTC 2006


OK, based people vouching on IRC that you weren't trying to start another 
flamewar, I'm going to answer the question I think is relevant rather than 
the direct questions you asked:

It's my opinion that the primary mission of SPI is to support & sustain 
existing open source efforts in the form of the member projects.  This is 
the only mission which does not require public discussion and the one with 
which other initiatives cannot conflict.

Since the addition of the associated projects, SPI is now a "federated" 
organization, that is one made up of discrete parts with varied interests.  
For any federated organization to stay together and thrive, any major 
decision needs to be endorsed by not only a majority of the membership but 
a consensus of the member organizations as well.  Otherwise, you risk 
alienating an entire member organization because they "have no voice" and 
they will leave SPI.

This is especially important right now, when the vast majority of SPI 
registered contributors are DDs.

You may not be aware of this, but just last August I was told by several 
people that SPI was "consitutionally unable to support projects other than 
Debian" by several major OSS organizers.   The associated project 
structure was meant to change that.   If we start making major decisions 
of political direction based on simple majority rule,  SPI will go back to 
being Debian-only because the other projects will leave.

You, as well as a couple others, use the example of Software Patents as an 
"obvious good" which nobody could argue with.  But things are not so 
clear-cut.   For example, if one of our associated projects was recieving 
the majority of its funding from IBM, having SPI spend significant funds 
and publicity on opposing SW patents could cause that organization to 
become defunded and even cease to exist.  

So we need to check with *each* member organization before engaging in 
activities which will affect all of them.

Therefore, it is my opinion that any argument that we do not need a 
consensus of member projects to engage in major external activities is 
really an argument that SPI shouldn't have associated projects at all.


--Josh Berkus

Josh Berkus
PostgreSQL Project Core Team

(all opinions expressed are my own; I do not speak
 for the Project unless specifically noted.)

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