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Nominee discussion forum discussion guidelines

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on May 16, 2023 10:49 AM


Free Software Foundation (FSF) board members play a vital role in the free software movement. Good governance is important for the FSF's fight for user freedom. By participating in this discussion, you're doing an important job for us. Please focus on the goal, and think consciously about being kind to the other participants, especially when disagreeing with them.

As with any FSF-organized event, our Safe Space Policy applies to the nominee discussion forum.

Keep this discussion private

We want this discussion to be among you, our associate members and longtime supporters -- not the general public. We also want our supporters and nominees to feel comfortable posting with an audience of people that have the same goals in mind, and not worry that what they say will be shared publicly. Be respectful and don't copy the discussion to places outside the forum.

Suitability, rather than popularity

What we hope to learn from this discussion is not how many people like or dislike a particular nominee. We seek, rather, factual information and insights about the nominee that will help us make an informed decision.

Improve the discussion

Through these discussions, we hope to get a clear idea of who our candidates are, what useful skills and attributes they have, and whether or not their values align with the FSF. When contributing to the forum, it helps to keep this goal in mind and consider whether or not your message will lead to useful answers.

A way to improve the discussion is by browsing existing topics before starting your own, so as not to repeat questions unnecessarily.

Another is to remember to criticize ideas, not people. You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine, but please avoid:

  • Name-calling
  • Ad hominem attacks
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its message
  • Knee-jerk contradiction

Any promotion of nonfree software should be flagged for moderators to remove.

The role of moderators

In order for the discussions to serve their purpose -- which is to give the FSF a basis for evaluating candidates -- you agree to act respectfully and follow the discussion rules, including cooperating with moderation. The moderators can take several different measures, including, as a last resort, removing a participant from discussions.

The FSF moderators will strive to use moderation as a way to help the discussion present pertinent factual information and judgments to give the FSF voting members the information that will be useful for them in judging candidates. They will aim to be fair and unbiased in managing the nomination process and moderating the discussion forum, but keep in mind that these discussions are a means to a specific purpose, not primarily an opportunity for self-expression. Therefore, moderators may sometimes put a lid on the latter so as to facilitate the former.

For instance, if discussion gets stuck in a repetitive dispute on one point, and all that's useful to say about that point has been said, the moderators may stop that dispute and move the attention to other points. If this happens to you, think of it as directing traffic, not as a punishment.

Please make the moderators' job easy, by thinking twice before you post, to avoid causing problems that might require them to act. You may also flag bad behavior for the moderators and they will work to improve the conversation.

A work in progress

We have never held a discussion process like this, so we are learning as we go. The main goal is to keep the discussion focused and respectful, but in addition we would like to moderate in a way that is fair and gentle. How to best reconcile those goals is not self-evident. We expect to change the guidelines during the discussion, based on what we have learned so far. We'll tell all participants about such changes immediately.

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