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Committee begins review of High Priority Projects free software list

by Zoë Kooyman Contributions Published on Nov 02, 2020 04:07 PM

This announcement was written collaboratively by the volunteer High Priority Projects committee and the FSF.

HPP Priorities logo

The High Priority Free Software Projects (HPP) initiative draws attention to areas of improvement to the HPP list and specific projects of great strategic importance to the goal of freedom for all computer users. Longtime committee member Benjamin Mako Hill said previously that an "updated High Priority Projects list is a description of the most important threats, and most critical opportunities, that free software faces in the modern computing landscape." As computing is more ubiquitous than ever, the HPP list must reflect ongoing changes in priorities for the free software movement. The committee is starting the new process of updating the HPP, and we need your input.

Fifteen years ago, the first version of the HPP list debuted with only four projects, three of them related to Java. Eighteen months later, Sun began to free Java users, proving the strength of advocacy campaigns for free software. Another example of the effectiveness of the list is when the HPP list called for a donor and contact management system, which was then promptly acted on by the developers of CiviCRM, who delivered the database management system that is currently still in use by the FSF and more than eleven thousand other nonprofit or governmental organizations. The list's persuasive powers can help guide existing projects, developers looking for a new project, investors, and volunteers to direct their focus toward those projects that will deliver the greatest benefit to user freedom.

There are undoubtedly thousands of free software projects that are high priority, each having the potential to displace nonfree programs and substantially increase the freedom of computer users worldwide. The HPP list will never be fully comprehensive or adequate to address all existing software freedom concerns. The potential value is its ability to bring attention to a relatively small number of projects of great strategic importance to the goal of freedom for all computer users. According to a write-up for a previous iteration of the list, projects can benefit from a place on the list as it helps them "explain their importance," and the list "has helped attract other developers" to named projects.

The committee is looking for your feedback to compile the list

In 2017, after receiving feedback from about 150 free software community members, extensive updates were made to the HPP list. Now, a new committee has been assembled to review, edit, and publish a new list. This committee is looking for your feedback as members of free software communities focused on a wide range of topics and problems that you think are relevant to the HPP.

As in past reboots and revisions of the HPP list, we invite constructive and lively discussion. We want to hear from people who live and breathe free software. We hope that with your help, others too will become empowered, vocal, and valued members of the free software movement.

The HPP committee is initially composed of the following free software activists: Máirín Duffy, Benjamin Mako Hill, Karen Johnson, Mike Linksvayer, Sean O'Brien, Lydia Pintscher, Kyle Rankin, Seth Schoen, Stephanie Whited, and Stefano Zacchiroli.

We need your input! Send your suggested changes for the list to by January 8, 2021.

Remember, we're looking for projects of great strategic importance to the goal of freedom for all computer users. We are looking for areas where people feel they are heavily pressured or even required to use proprietary software, as well as for important missing features in existing free software, and for problems you see on the horizon as technology is developing.

If you wish, we encourage you to publish your thoughts independently (e.g., on your blog or social media) and send us a link to them. Keep in mind that not every project of great strategic importance to the goal of freedom for all computer users will be a software development project. We welcome suggestions of other forms of activism, internal or external (e.g., making free software communities safe for diverse participants, mandating use of free software in the public sector, etc.).

Suggestions for the HPP list are always welcome. The committee plans to start processing feedback for this update by January 8, 2021. Based upon the feedback we receive, the current content of the list, and our own contributions, we will publish a substantially revised list and an analysis before holding a lively discussion at LibrePlanet 2021.

Recommendations for the HPP list as a tool for the free software movement

We will build upon the momentum of the feedback conversations and bring widespread coverage and attention to the projects that comprise the HPP list. As part of an ongoing free software strategy for advocacy, we intend to continuously direct attention and resources toward the listed projects. In that effort, we’re looking for input as well -- how can we make the HPP list an effective outreach tool for the free software movement?

We are looking forward to your feedback at as we work on more substantial improvements!

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