Charters, manifestos, and SPI's purpose, and forum-widening

From: Ian Jackson <ijackson(at)chiark(dot)greenend(dot)org(dot)uk>
To: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Cc: board(at)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Charters, manifestos, and SPI's purpose, and forum-widening
Date: 2007-05-10 14:37:16
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Note forum-shifting, of which more discussion later in this mail.

Joshua D. Drake writes on board@ ("Re: SPI support for [some project]"):
> You are correct, and I find it a very, very sad prospect that we are
> only able to [act as trustees for funds] this when our charter
> clearly states we should be doing so much more.

I think you've misunderstood the function of the charter. The charter
for a legally constituted organisation like SPI is not its manifesto.
Everything that the founders and subsequent members of the
organisation think it might reasonably want to do has to be listed in
the legal charter, because if an organisation acts outside its charter
it and its board, officers, etc., are very legally exposed. Therefore
charters are necessarily broad, vague and often formulaic.

SPI's charter lists all of the things that SPI is permitted to do.
That doesn't mean that all of those things are primary objectives for
SPI or that we intend to do all of them any time soon.

Perhaps SPI ought to have a manifesto but at the moment it doesn't.

Now for a procedural note about my forum-shift:

This discussion has drifted away from the original topic, which was a
negotiation with a potential associated project. That negotiation
should reasonably remain confidential but the followup discussion
which Joshua and I are now starting does not need to be, so it ought
to be on -general. I trust that Joshua will not object.

Note also that I have been careful to remove information which might
leak the identity of the project: I have deleted the References: line,
the identity of the other recipients of Joshua's mail, the name of the
project from the quoted Subject line and in my own mail's Subject,

Anyone else who widens the scope of a discussion in similar
circumstances should take similar precautions, and carefully read and
re-read their message to avoid accidental leaks.

I'd also like to point out that SPI board members ought not to confirm
or deny any rumours that some particular project is in confidential
discussions with the board. Otherwise a refusal to deny could be
taken as confirmation. At any one time there are sometimes several
such discussions and sometimes none.

Note also that the decision whether to publish the fact of this
negotiation is for the project in question to take. They approached
board@, and we have not yet discussed the question of confidentiality
or otherwise with them.



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