Last night at the FSF’s community conference RMS announced that we was now back on the board of the FSF. He resigned in 2019 after some of his statements about Marvin Minsky and Jeffrey Epstein sparked a loud outcry and protests by large parts of the Free Software and Open Source cummunity.
Honestly? I think it’s a bad idea for him to return into any kind of leadership position at the FSF given his communication style. He did (and perhaps still does) lots of important work on the technical side of things but his messaging in the past has quite often been … unfortunate, to put it mildly, even if I ignore some of his social comments. But also the FSF as a whole seems to be somehow living in the past regarding how to communicate important decisions (and yes, someone like RMS returning to the board is important - either good or bad).
As Kev already noted, a statement like the following does not bode well for the communication strategy and technology employed here:
We were working on a video to announce this…but that turned out to be difficult. We didn’t have experience doing that sort of thing.
It’s just unprofessional and out of touch.
At this point I’m more happy than ever that the FSFE (disclaimer: I’m a donating member there) is so completely different from the FSF. I think the core values of Free Software are important and will continue to be so in the future. These values need to be clearly and attractively communicated, though. This message should not be mixed with entitled, toxic communications that just make the whole movement look like something that is stuck in the past. The Free Software Foundation Europe, on the other hand, feels just friendlier and more modern and the FSF would do good to immitate their European sister organisation in some areas if they want to stay relevant.
Moves like adding RMS back to the board after him leaving just 1.5 years ago doesn’t help here. Instead it tells everyone in the industry that the FSF will just stay the same as it has been in the past.
Update: After reading some articles about recent and not do recent incidents at the FSFE I’ve decided to remove the praise in the article and suspend further donations.