Re: should candidates be foundation members.

I agree with everything that Bruce said.

The overview document for candidates for the board states that candidates must be willing to:

Act on behalf of all GNOME contributors in the best interest of GNOME, and not solely represent the interests of a specific
     company or constituency.

The election timeline allows for making changes to the Charter until 10/23, precisely so that we could add clarifications of the sort that Bruce is proposing.  Therefore, I propose that we add the following wording to the Board section of the Charter:

Members of the board of directors shall act on behalf of all GNOME contributors in the best interest of the GNOME project.  Although board members may be affiliated with companies that have an interest in the success of GNOME, they will not be considered representatives of companies with which they are affiliated.  The GNOME Foundation Board of Advisors provides a forum for corporate representation.

Does anyone object?


Bruce Perens wrote:

From: Christian Schaller <uraeus linuxrising org>
> it struck me that being able to represent companies was used as an
> argument. Personally I feel we should try to keep company interests
> out of these elections since if we start to choose the board based
> on company affiliations I feel we undermine the position of the GNOME
> Foundation Advisory Board and also the company independence of the GNOME
> Foundation board.

We definitely should not place the fox on guard over the henhouse.

The problem with company representation is, of course, that the companies
would want to vote their self-interest, and this might cause one of two

 1. A move away from the Free Software nature of the project, at least
    in some aspects, in order that companies have a direct revenue caputure
    from GNOME activities rather than the indirect revenue capture that they
    get through support and selling other things than the software. For
    example, some companies have in the past worked to embed their patents
    in IETF standards, so that they could collect royalties from anyone who
    implemented the standard. We need to protect GNOME from that sort of

 2. Other company self-interest that is detrimental to the project. Consider
    the example of the X Window System project, where every company wanted
    so badly to be able to differentiate its desktop from its competitors.
    They agreed not to create a canonical widget set, not to mention a
    canonical desktop. MS Windows walked all over X/Unix in the market as a

On the other hand, we all need to have jobs, and few of us are satisfied
to work on non-free software all day any longer. Thus, we are in general
affiliated with companies that work on GNOME in some manner.

So, how do we resolve this?

We need to be clear that directorship of the GNOME foundation is _not_
company representation. If we were, for example, to put Andy Herzfeld
on the board, we'd have him there because he'd be voting his technical
knowledge and his ethics, not the interest of Eazel Inc. It must be
made clear to companies that the board seat belongs to the individual,
and the individual is to vote on behalf of the GNOME project, not their
employer. That is how we maintain the demarcation between the free software
project and its commercial supporters. The company may support the director's
GNOME activities but should _not_ expect to control them. Undue influence of
the employer upon board voting should be sufficient reason for the board to
move and vote to eject a director.

Thus, I would suggest that:

 1. We keep the above in mind while _selecting_ directors. We should ask them
    about it. It should be part of their campaign statement.

    I am assuming that we _are_ getting a campaign statement from each
    of the candidates before the vote, and will post them together in
    an official place so that the members can peruse them before voting.

 2. That the newly constituted board amend the "Board of Directors" portion
    of the charter to make clear that directors are acting on behalf of the
    GNOME project and are _not_ on the board to represent their companies


        Bruce Perens

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