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Board process outline

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Jan 19, 2023 12:12 PM

Steps in the process

  1. During the nomination window, our associate members propose candidates from the wider free software community who they believe could provide beneficial service on the FSF board.

  2. Following this, candidates that pass a basic check by the voting members receive a message alerting them of their nomination. This message will invite them to answer a series of questions gauging their values and experience.

  3. After all candidates have had time to answer the questions, the voting members review their answers and eliminate candidates who do not seem plausible to join the board. The FSF publicly announces the list of remaining nominees.

  4. The voting members choose, as a body, one or more specific candidates to hold discussions about. The FSF starts discussions about individual candidates.

  5. Each candidate under discussion will then receive access to the nominee discussion forum. We will automatically invite associate members to this forum who were members some time between five years and three months before the official start of this board nomination process, as well as anyone who has donated a comparable amount in that time. For the first board process, three months to five years is 2018-01-19 to 2022-10-19. Associate members may also suggest other, specific members of the free software community who might bring value to the discussions. The board will then review these suggestions.

  6. The nominee discussion forum will be powered by the "Discourse" message board software. In Discourse, as in other bulletin board services, users can post topics, comment or respond to existing topics, and participate in polls. FSF staff and community moderators will moderate the forum in accordance with our discussion guidelines.

  7. After the discussion period has ended, FSF staff will give a report to the FSF voting members summarizing the points raised for or against a particular candidate. At this point, the voting members may decide to start another discussion of one or more different candidates, repeating step 4, or move on to the next step.

  8. The FSF voting members will invite discussed candidates to private conversations with every current voting member. Following these conversations, the FSF voting members will vote on whether to invite the candidate to a trial position on the FSF board.

  9. FSF staff will email an update to the associate members to share the results of the FSF voting members' vote. At this point, the voting members may decide to repeat step 4 and start another discussion of one or more other candidates, or repeat step 8, voting on another candidate, or move on to the next step.

  10. After the trial period, FSF voting members will vote whether the trial member will join the board as a full member or leave the board.


The board nomination process graph we've designed provides a more minute description of the process than this outline.

Please contact FSF staff or any volunteer moderators for assistance at any point during the discussion process. They are here to support you.

More information about the board nomination process and FSF's board governance work from 2021 and 2022 can be found at

This nomination process has been newly developed by the FSF in the interest of including our associate members more directly in the nomination and selection of candidates appointed to the FSF's board and voting members. As such, it may be necessary to revise the process at times. This graphic reflects the latest version of the process dated January 19, 2023.

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