Re: Bylaws Revision: VOTING[4]

From: Lynn Winebarger <owinebar(at)indiana(dot)edu>
To: Christoph Lameter <christoph(at)lameter(dot)com>
Cc: "Darren O(dot) Benham" <gecko(at)benham(dot)net>, spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: Bylaws Revision: VOTING[4]
Date: 1999-06-01 22:58:13
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On Tue, 1 Jun 1999, Christoph Lameter wrote:

> On Fri, 28 May 1999, Darren O. Benham wrote:
> > > important issues, perhaps if a member fails to vote on (say) 80% of the
> > > important votes they are downgraded... Sounds harsh, though. But
> > > apathetic democracies are problematic, since issues usually then get
> > > decided by the extremes, rather than any true majority. But that way,
> > > problems with meeting quorums would be somewhat self-correcting.
> > Hmm... I wonder what others have to say. Considering the opposition to
> > expiring memberships... hmmmm
Yeah, it was just an idea.

> That is why I would suggest limiting the quorum for elections. We have not
> had elections for awhile and people have been content with the appointment
> of officers. The general feeling is to leave things alone if they are not
> broke. And if things go smoothly in leadership I would expect low interest
> by the developers in elections. Frequent required decisions by the
> membership will lower interest even further.
I guess I was thinking of SPI as being a kind of activist
organization, where active participation would be encouraged or even
expected. I guess the things I was thinking SPI would be involved in
(either as a leader or a participant with others) were things like (1)
fund raising for free software, (2) helping provide legal defense funding
for free software authors being attacked by corporations, (3) public
relations campaigns promoting free software, (4) lobbying political
bodies/organizing grass roots support for IP law reform favoring the
development of free software, (5) adjunct to (3), responding to the
propaganda of organizations like the SPA (or whatever they're called now).
And whatever else is appropriate.
I recently went to a conference in Banff, Canada as part of
"promoting" the Free Expression Project. It was a conference on streaming
media, and there were all sorts of folks there, though I think I was the
only (aspiring) free software developer. There were artists, activists,
and some more commercial radio people there. I gave a talk on software
licensing practices reviewing the server license for the Real G2 Basic
Server (which isn't available until _after_ you download it). Contrary to
the expectations of some software development folks for whom licensing
debates are very old hat, I found the people there to be very interested
in the concept of free software, and they weren't really familiar with it
before. It would lead me to believe that it would be useful for
representatives of SPI to go to these conferences, and discuss these
issues. In particular, I think they'll be most interested if you can
offer to organize particular projects for producing tools they routinely
use - and they will probably be interested in making donations to support
that project, particularly if they currently have to pay obscene licensing
Anyway, pursuing this idea would definitely require at least some
individual's to be activist supporters of free software (besides just

> As a model how to think about SPI: Think about it as a democracy. The BOD
> is an elected body of the membership and on behalf of the membership
> bestows powers on the officers and the committees.
I believe you're talking about either a republic using a parliamentary
system. A direct democracy would require voting on everything. Even I'm
not as activist as that ;-) I definitely believe in the delegation of
responsibility, it's just where do we draw the line of accountability and


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