Charters, manifestos, and SPI's purpose, and forum-widening

Joshua D. Drake jd at
Thu May 10 20:38:09 UTC 2007

Ian Jackson wrote:
> Note forum-shifting, of which more discussion later in this mail.
> Joshua D. Drake writes on board@ ("Re: SPI support for [some project]"):
>> You are correct, and I find it a very, very sad prospect that we are
>> only able to [act as trustees for funds] this when our charter
>> clearly states we should be doing so much more.
> I think you've misunderstood the function of the charter.  The charter
> for a legally constituted organisation like SPI is not its manifesto.
> Everything that the founders and subsequent members of the
> organisation think it might reasonably want to do has to be listed in
> the legal charter, because if an organisation acts outside its charter
> it and its board, officers, etc., are very legally exposed.  Therefore
> charters are necessarily broad, vague and often formulaic.
> SPI's charter lists all of the things that SPI is permitted to do.
> That doesn't mean that all of those things are primary objectives for
> SPI or that we intend to do all of them any time soon.
> Perhaps SPI ought to have a manifesto but at the moment it doesn't.

Except that our "charter" isn't that vague. It is pretty explicit and in 
fact defines "purpose".  Purpose is:

1.    the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
2.    an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
3.    determination; resoluteness.
4.    the subject in hand; the point at issue.
5.    practical result, effect, or advantage: to act to good purpose.

Now, perhaps I am being too pedantic but honestly... did the founders of 
  SPI intend that we were only to be a glorified PayPal? Does the board 
consider that the case now?

     * To create, form and establish an organization to formulate and 
provide software systems for use by the general public without charge;
     * to teach and train individuals regarding the use and application 
of such systems;
     * to hold classes, seminars and workshops concerning the proper use 
and application of computers and computer systems;
     * to endeavor to monitor and improve the quality of currently 
existing publicly available software;
     * to support, educate and promote the creation and development of 
software available to the general public;
     * to provide information and education regarding the proper use of 
the Internet;
     * to organize, hold and conduct meetings, discussions, and forums 
on contemporary issues concerning the use of computers and computer 
     * to foster, promote and increase access to software systems 
available to the general public;
     * to solicit, collect and otherwise raise money and to expend such 
funds in furtherance of the goals and activities of the corporation;
     * to aid, assist, cooperate, co-sponsor and otherwise engage in 
concerted action with private, educational and governmental 
organizations and associations on all issues and matters concerning the 
use of computers and computer software;
       and generally
     * to endeavor to promote, foster and advance interest in computers 
and computer software by all available means and methods.


Joshua D. Drake


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