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Nominee discussion forum participation agreement

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on May 16, 2023 10:47 AM

Thank you for offering to join the nomination of candidates for the Free Software Foundation (FSF) board of directors, and the subsequent discussions about candidates. This will help us choose the best members for the board. Here are the rules we ask you to agree to for this process.

Understanding the goal

First of all, by agreeing to this document, you confirm that you understand what we are looking for in board members.

In brief, the FSF's mission is to promote and defend free software as defined by four freedoms. Every computer user is entitled to a computing environment that grants these four freedoms.

To ensure that the FSF adheres to its mission, we've adopted these fundamental requisites for a member of the FSF board:

  • An FSF board member should loyally uphold the FSF's insistence that users are entitled to control their computing, individually and collectively, and therefore to control the software that does that computing, and should attest that no reason can justify denying them this.

  • An FSF board member should loyally uphold the integrity of copyleft and the GNU licenses, and decide about revised licenses primarily to ensure that the programs carrying these licenses continue to give their users the four freedoms; and, all else being equal in that regard, secondarily to encourage developers to release more programs under these licenses.

  • An FSF board member should steadfastly resist pressure to depart from the above, regardless of what goal or argument may be offered for doing so. Important real goals will never require such a sacrifice of freedom for all; there will always be a morally preferable way to achieve them.

We have also published a list of valuable attributes in a potential board member. Please do consider these attributes when nominating candidates, and please talk about them in the discussions, but no amount of other desirable qualities can compensate for a lack of the fundamental requisites, so keep these priorities in mind.

Discussion guidelines and rules

In order for the discussions to serve their purpose -- which is to give the FSF useful insights for evaluating candidates -- you agree to act respectfully and follow the discussion rules, including cooperating with moderation. The FSF 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.

The moderators 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.

Please refer to the discussion guidelines for a complete list of our guidelines and code of conduct for all participants in the candidate discussion forum.


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.

If you have questions or concerns about any part of this agreement, please email

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