The Association for Free Software

Minutes of Committee Meeting

Meeting was held in Tamworth on 1 July 2023

Present: Richard Smedley, MJ Ray (for latter half, delayed by traffic; first half of meeting summarised), Brian Gough, Ian Lynch, Kevin Donnelly

Apologies: Adam Bower, Alex Hudson

  1. Approval of past minutes.

    These were unanimously approved.

  2. Committee roles.

    • RS was elected Chairman.
    • AH was proposed as Vice-chairman, with special brief for the South, subject to his agreement.
    • KD was elected Secretary (and has made a poor initial impression due to the delay in these minutes!).
    • MJR was re-elected as Treasurer.
    • IL agreed to take on the special brief of Membership Secretary (provided that this was not too time-consuming), working in liaison with MJR.

    Roles were further discussed here, and at 7(b), using BG's breakdown.

  3. Meeting rules.

    The paper "Guidance for the Conduct of Meetings" by MJR was agreed unanimously.

  4. Constitution loose ends. This issue is not urgent, and was therefore postponed.

  5. Financial report.

    The AFFS account was £2669 in credit, including £1,000 from subscriptions and £1,000 from UKFSN. There was discussion of whether a second account would be appropriate, but it was concluded that the amounts and administration requirements on the existing account were not sufficient to justify this.

  6. Publication of minutes to members.

    It was agreed that this should happen by default.

  7. Publicity/campaigning.

    • website and other Internet resources for members

      BG felt that AFFS needed a more professional image, and the discussion ranged over the points below.

      The website needed to be kept up-to-date, and simplified in some respects, so that (for instance) prospective members could join with just one click. It was agreed that BG and RS should work on revising the website along these lines. Updating might be facilitated if it were possible to open out administrative access to the website a bit more, perhaps by using a web frontend. It was agreed that AH should be asked about how far this is possible with the current webserver.

      It was agreed that AFFS should move to its own mailing-list. Within that, separate threads should be marked up (eg [grants] [events]) to allow easy access to required information.

      It was agreed that a formal issue-tracking system should be implemented. On BG's recommendation, it was agreed to trial Logical Progression's MailManager for this purpose. This could then be used as the basis for a (possibly monthly) email newsletter to members.

      It was agreed that the website needed to address two separate audiences: "geeks" already knew what free software was, and wanted to support it, and a less technically aware group (eg the public, legislators, companies) who may have heard of free software, but wanted a bit more information on it. To address this latter constituency, it was agreed that a set of links with appropriate background information should be developed. This might be something like a mirror of the WWW Virtual Library, or a list of links (sorted into areas) which members could be invited to contribute, but which would be vetted and contextualised by BG/RS before posting.

    • involving the wider membership

      There was discussion of trying to open up "jobs" to the wider membership. At the minute there is no simple way for someone who wants to contribute a "little" or effort to do this, and this then places all the onus on the Committee members. It was agreed that consideration should be given to segmenting projects in such a way that 2 or 3 ordinary members can be brought in on an ad hoc basis to help with portions of the project, depending on their time commitments.

  8. FSFE-UK

    AFFS is a democratic membership organisation, which leaves FSF-E short of a directly controlled UK-based branch. FSFE-UK would work with AFFS on a number of issues, but needs to be created as a separate entity. RS and AH to follow up with Georg Greve of FSF-E.

  9. Software Freedom Day

    This was set for the last Saturday in August. It was agreed that the next newsletter should feature a section about this.

  10. Grants

    It was agreed that this would be taken forward immediately. KD should draft an announcement to members (to give them first bite), with a press release for print/web media to follow later. The scope of the call for applications would be fairly wide at this stage - basically, people would be asked to send in a proposal, and the Committee would then come to a quick decision on what should be supported. Preference would be given to those projects which would attract match-funding. All unsuccessful proposals would be kept on file, in the hope that it might be possible to work down the list in the future.

  11. Projects

    It was agreed that the overruling of the European Parliament's decision by the European Commission revealed shortcomings in the EU's democratic process. It was agreed that £250 should be donated to the FFII, provided that this money could be linked to a specific program, with formal feedback from the FFII (eg a summary report for the newsletter, a photo, etc).

    It was agreed that scheduling needed to begin for promotional activities over the next year. Events currently listed were: the Specialist Schools Exhibition, FLOSSIE, and the various Infopoints available as a result of Jono Bacon's initiative (a leaflet for these would need to be written at some point). IL noted that he had been offered the opportunity of doing a radio programme for the London area, and it was agreed that contributors/helpers should be sought via the mailing-list.

  12. Local group support.

    RS wished to explore the idea of local AFFS groups, similar to LUGS, but focussed on the idea of free software rather than Linux per se. It was agreed that he should explore this.

  13. Any Other Business.

    1. Travelling expenses

      After some discussion, it was agreed that AFFS would pay reasonable travelling expenses to Committee members for attendance at Committee meetings. MJR would circulate claim forms in due course.

    2. Activism training day

      It was agreed that AFFS should pay for some places on this course, being organised by Tom Chance. AB would contact Tom, and announce the day to members.

  14. Next Meeting.

    Noon, Tuesday 14 September 2004. South Cheshire. RS to arrange.

KD, 14 July 2023 (amended RS, 15 July 2023)

The Association For Free Software